Archives for the Month of March 2011 on Carl's ILLiad Blog

Requesting Entire Series through ILL

Sometimes in rare instances it becomes necessary for a researcher to consult the entire run of a journal, serial or large multi-volume book set (or large portions thereof), usually in the manner of an overview. Though we do indeed want to facilitate satisfying this need when it must be done through interlibrary loan channels, we do not recommend submitting a single ILLiad request transaction for borrowing an entire series all at once. We will present a number of helpful suggestions and caveats here to make fulfilling such a need much more manageable, for you as a user, and for library staff both here at Kelvin Smith Library and at the lender institution (or institutions) from which we will attempt to obtain these materials.

First of all, we prefer that you use the 'Other' (Misc. Loan) request form available from the Main Menu in your ILLiad login session. This form includes a 'Citation' field that can accommodate up to 1500 characters of text, so you have plenty of room to be specific about what you need to borrow. Other loan-type forms available do contain fields that can hold a reasonably large number of characters (where this is appropriate, e.g., for book or thesis titles), but entering an inordinately large amount of text will result in it being truncated at a certain point.

Secondly, it may be necessary for you to submit several individual ILL requests in sequence, rather than on a single transaction for all the required volumes, issues or parts at one time. We recommend that you consider ahead of time what you can use practically at once, and then break your total request down into several smaller groups. Limit each of these separate transactions to a more reasonable quantity, judiciously selecting those parts most urgently required for your research, if this is at all possible to determine.

Next, the question might we whether you should submit all your requests at approximately the same time, or instead maybe one or two of these at first and holding off subsequent request groups for a later time. It is not always the most prudent approach to simply attempt to request all the parts you need simultaneously, even when you have broken your total request down into a number of smaller requests. One issue to take into consideration is how many of the pieces ultimately needed for your research that you can practically use at a given time. Another consideration is how many potential lender libraries actually hold the series in question (as well as the exact parts required, since not all may have complete holdings for the title), as well as their policies on lending them. For example, some may not lend them all, and others may only agree to loan out just so many at one time (often imposing 'Library Use Only' restrictions as well).

We suggest that, after consulting cataloguing information about a series title (as from OCLC WorldCat) and taking note of the available library holdings, you decide how then to proceed. (Do not hesitate to contact ILL staff at 216-368-3517, 216-368-3463 or ahead of time for assistance.) The strategy we ordinarily recommend (and which frequently is in accordance with many potential lenders' own policies) is to request your first group at the start. Once these have been supplied by a prospective lender, and you have used and returned them, you may then submit a new request for the next group of required pieces. Please be aware that some lenders will wait for the first loaned group of volumes to physically arrive at their location before they will even consider accepting a new request for another group of parts.

However, it is not out of the question for us to put several ILL transactions into place at the same time, as it may even be possible to borrow different groups of parts of the series in question from different potential lender libraries simultaneously, if this approach is practicable. Of course, we must investigate in advance as to whether the requisite sources to be involved are amenable to this, in order to successfully employ such a strategy. If we are working with more than one lender library that exercises the above-mentioned policy, this approach can at least shorten the overall length of time required to obtain all the required parts.

Please keep in mind that lender libraries may choose to supply fewer parts than were originally specified on a submitted request, as a matter of policy or contingent upon actual availability. Unfortunately, this circumstance can result in an unanticipated delay to your total service, requiring additional submissions to supplement the lacking pieces, if at all possible. As you might not always end up receiving all that you expected in a particular instance, we would suggest that you consider paring down the number of volumes or parts you can actually make use of within a single request, for the sake of practicality. We do not necessarily suggest that you submit only one ILL request transaction for each individual volume or part, of course.

As you can surmise, the prospect of executing these types of weighty requests can become very complicated if they are to be properly and completely fulfilled. It may result in a process spanning over the course of several months, or possibly even longer. It is wise to consider this factor, especially if it can be coordinated advantageously with the time frame of your research. Ultimately your approach should be contingent upon the total quantity of pieces you actually require, the time span over which you expect to make use of them, and the amount of available sources from which we can access them. Kelvin Smith Library's ILL staff will do our best to help and advise you in this kind of endeavor.