-Blog post by Bryan Nicholls, ILL Assistant/Evening Library Supervisor
Interlibrary loan is a game changer when it comes to research and earning your degree. Think about it, if there is a book that HPU Libraries doesn’t have, you are not out of luck because the library can borrow it from another library that does have it and get it to you. It’s the same thing with other materials too: journal articles, films and even dissertations can all be obtained through Interlibrary Loan (ILL). It is also free; you never need to pay a penny to borrow anything from a library.
While the service itself can be a lifesaver it does not come without any drawbacks, the main one being turnaround time. While articles arrive relatively quickly (1-3 days), books take a bit longer, around 1-3 weeks to be exact. Time is not always a luxury when it comes to research and sometimes we don’t always have time to wait for a book to get here. You may then find yourself asking “what now?” This discussion will attempt to help you answer that question. Knowing other places to look before submitting an ILL request can save you time and any unnecessary stress.
Search the Library Catalog
To begin, the library catalog is the best place to start your search when looking for specific materials:
Found at www.highpoint.edu/library, the library catalog is the portal to all of the materials owned by HPU Libraries. Simply search the name of the work you need and, if we have access to it, it will pop right up. Don’t be discouraged if the first 5 or 6 search results are not what you need; sometimes the materials you need might be a little further down in the search or your search might need to be refined slightly. Simple modifications like placing quotations around the title of what you are searching for can yield a drastically different result. Also make sure to remove any other punctuation and spell every word of the title correctly to increase your chances of success.
Check for Other Editions & Formats
Are you in search of a book that has several editions and it doesn’t matter which edition you use? No problem. Sometimes HPU Libraries may not have the most up to date edition of a book but we have an older edition that would work just as well, or we may even have an eBook which can be accessed immediately. You can check the different edition and format types by finding the book you need in the catalog and clicking “Explore Editions and Formats” under the picture of the book cover. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you can find.
Search for Article Titles in HPU’s Google Scholar Link
Another option to think about before you submit an ILL request is the “Google Scholar-HPU” link. This link can also be found on the library webpage.
This is a unique link because this version of Google Scholar links back to materials that we have in our catalog when you do a search. This gives you a more comprehensive search than you would normally get from a standard Google Scholar search. It also expands your access by pulling in academic materials found on the open web; for example, in another university’s institutional repository.
Please keep in mind that you must use the link on the library website to get to this version of Google Scholar. Google Scholar is a great option for checking for article access before requesting them through ILL. It does not have the same functionality for books, however. To get a print copy of book in your hands quickly, try looking for a TALA library that owns a copy.
Check for a Triad Academic Library Association (TALA) Copy
One other place to consider looking before you use ILL are the TALA schools. TALA (Triad Academic Library Association) is an agreement that we have with other schools close by that allows you to use your student ID to check out materials from those schools; this means that, instead of waiting 1-3 weeks for a book to arrive, you can drive to a nearby TALA school that has what you need and get it the very same day. TALA schools include UNC Greensboro, Guilford College, NC A&T, and more. You can see whether a TALA school has what you need finding the book in the catalog and clicking “Check Availability.”; the catalog will also show you whether a TALA school has what you need before you even click on the book record; just look under the synopsis of the book. For more information on TALA, click here.
Even though these are great places to look before you submit an ILL request, it is imperative to keep in mind that these options are not a guarantee that you will find everything you need every single time; neither the internet or all of the TALA libraries have everything that one might need. However, using one or more of these options may help you avoid an unnecessary wait if you are in a hurry to get materials. For more information on ILL, check out our ILL research guide or contact the ILL department at email@example.com.