Interlibrary Loan Keeps Brandeis Community Connected to Materials from Around the World

Interlibrary Loan is a challenging—and exciting—department to be part of even in normal circumstances, but in the current situation, it has been more challenging and more rewarding than ever.

Libraries around the world are currently closed, or only minimally staffed, leaving print collections almost entirely inaccessible. But the show must go on somehow, and since mid-March, the Brandeis Library Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery department has filled more than 1,800 borrowing requests, almost 600 Document Delivery requests, and almost 1,400 Lending requests—all while working remotely from home!

How has this been possible? The resource sharing community has gone out of its way to try to provide access to needed materials; we all recognize that our services are more important than ever right now, as patrons are unable to access materials physically in the currently-closed libraries. ILL has always been about sharing as much as possible, and our colleagues have really extended themselves in order to provide to us the materials Brandeis patrons need to complete their coursework and continue their research, and we have done the same in supplying our materials to patrons at other libraries. Non-U.S. libraries are among those providing articles and book chapters, showing that ILL truly is a worldwide community.

Since loans of entire print books are not possible with so many libraries remaining closed, ILL departments have worked together to create lists of which libraries can lend from e-resources, which libraries can still access print items for scanning, and which libraries are just entirely closed, so we do not waste time going down dead ends as we try to fill requests.

Various vendors also have expanded their access, allowing us to borrow and lend from ebooks and ejournals that previously had ILL restrictions, and libraries have been generous in supplying as much as possible from such materials. Sites such as the HathiTrust have expanded access to in-copyright materials to members who own the now-inaccessible print, allowing our patrons to “check-out” materials and read full-texts entirely online. In addition, many authors have opened up free online access to their books and articles.

We have been chasing down every possible source to try to get you the resources you request, and we have been overwhelmingly successful at this, much to our delight. Some libraries are starting to slowly reopen, so getting scans from print materials is becoming a little more feasible.

So, please, keep the requests coming—and don't worry about where or who might have the material or in what form, even if the materials are ones you know we own ourselves. We’re here to figure that out for you and to try to find a way to get the material you need!