Borrowing Books Through Interlibrary Loan

By Rhonda R. McClure Premium

One method for getting access to books not available at your library is through interlibrary loan. For an interlibrary loan your library requests a book, newspaper or other resource from another library, often out of state. That library then sends the requested item to your local library, and you’re allowed to view the item there.

Libraries around the country participate in this program, including the Library of Congress, which Librarian of Congress Herbert Putnam referred to as the “nation’s library of last resort” when he began lending books from the library’s collection in 1902.

Interlibrary loan must be done through your local library. Do not mistake your Family History Center for a library. Family History Centers are branches of the Family History Library, but they cannot do interlibrary loan with other libraries. In a few instances you will find that the local public library is a Family History Center, but this is uncommon.

Find information for the item in question, complete with ISBN and Library of Congress number, to facilitate the search and request of the book. In some instances, the library you are aware of won’t be able to lend the volume, so your librarian needs this information to find it through another repository.

Interlibrary loan is one more way to help you accomplish your research from home, or at least from your hometown. Searching for the desired resources can be done through online library catalogs at any time of the day or night. Armed with printouts from the catalogs, you should find that you can get many of these resources via interlibrary loan.