Archives for the Month of May 2012 on Carl's ILLiad Blog

Some Brief Comments about ILL Turnaround Times

Just wanted to provide some basic information on what you can normally expect as far as the usual time required to receive materials through interlibrary loan. This applies only to transactions submitted through your ILLiad account, and does not refer to OhioLINK or SearchOhio requests.

In the case of articles (from journals or newspapers, but also including book chapters, conference papers, and any other reproduced materials), we almost invariably provide these to you via electronic delivery. Whenever possible, electronic documents come to you as direct deliveries from the selected lender libraries, after ILL staff perform initial processing. We make use preferably of suppliers previously designated by us as 'trusted senders' when we have the opportunity, wherein the document transmissions occur unmediated from them to you the user. Otherwise, direct transmissions from lenders not in this category take place upon initial inspection and further delivery processing by ILL staff. Finally, in cases where printed copies are received by mail of fax, or scans are sent to us by indirect electronic means, the documents require appropriate conversion in order to be properly delivered through your ILLiad account.

This all, of course, affects the overall period required from the moment your article request is submitted up to the final delivery time. In about half the cases, however, turnaround occurs within 48 hours, although many of these arrive to you same-day. In roughly 2 out of 3 cases, they can usually be expected to arrive in under 5 business days. There will always be occasional requests that require a considerable amount of additional attention, and thus take somewhat longer than usual to fill.

In the case of loaned items (i.e., any materials supplied to you on a temporary basis, with a specified due date and possible usage restrictions), we make similar efforts to minimize the time required to borrow them on your behalf. In a similar way as described above, we attempt whenever possible to select potential lenders that have a reputation for lending us materials promptly and at minimal cost. For example, we can often ascertain beforehand which institutions are likely to provide special material types, such as audio-visual or microfilm. For the most part, you can expect loans to arrive in less than 10 or 11 days, but most come within 5 to 7 days (and sometimes even sooner).

As always, extenuating circumstances may arise that affect the total amount of time required to obtain materials through interlibrary loan, for both articles and loans equally. More common materials are easier to get in short order, while rare or esoteric items can be more challenging to locate. The quality of the original citation information provided when you submit your request can lead to delays if inadequate, incomplete or incorrect data has been entered in critical form fields. Keep in mind also that if you submit your requests immediately prior to or during weekends or holidays, it may increase turnaround time as they will not receive attention until the morning of the next business day.

We try to handle interlibrary loan transactions as much as possible through OCLC WorldCat's ILL resource sharing subsystem, which is by far the most expeditious electronic method readily available to us for intermediary processing. However, if circumstances dictate that we use another method, such as e-mail or lenders' individual ILL online request sites, processing may take longer. We try at all costs to avoid having to send out requests through fax or by regular mail. In some cases, additional procedural requirements may come into play, such as special forms to obtain usage clearance for certain materials (such as theses). The occasional physical or electronic delivery mishaps that can come about, and then of course need requisite remedying, can also lead to unfortunate delays.

Considering all these possible factors that can create a protracted length of time involved in acquiring ILL materials, we are still pleased to be able to provide your articles and loans to you in a relatively quick timeframe.