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Reaching Out For You: Interlibrary Loan Services at the Pollak Library

Posted in Borrowing, Faculty, General News, Interlibrary Loan, Library Services, and Students

At the Cal State Fullerton Pollak Library, we wish we could buy every book a student or faculty member would ever need for their research. The same thing is true for articles, DVDs, and all the other resources that our users need from time to time. Since we can’t buy it all, we need a way to get it for you when you need it. That is the purpose of our Interlibrary Loan Services.

Do we value Interlibrary Loan here at Cal State Fullerton? You bet! Among all the 23 campuses of the CSU, we dedicate more money to interlibrary loan services than any other CSU campus.* For many years, we have worked hard to make interlibrary loan ordering quick, easy, and seamless. Now we find that our budget has been greatly reduced, and we must look very closely at our operations. Careful examination of our interlibrary loan statistics has given us some logical places to make some changes.

  • We noticed, for example, that many interlibrary loan requests were for books that we owned but were checked out to another Fullerton user. Now if you order a checked-out book from interlibrary loan, we will ask you to recall the book instead. We will get it back for you, and let you know by your campus email when it is ready to pick up.
  • Another category of requests that we looked at was for books that had been recently published within the last year. The problem here is that it is very difficult to find a library that will lend us a brand new book, so those requests were often unfilled; therefore we have restricted those requests as well.
  • Over 50% of all the interlibrary loan books not picked up, around 1,600 books last year, were ordered by undergraduates. We believe that students fully intended to pick up all their ILL books, but probably overestimated how many books they could use effectively at one time. Undergrads are now restricted to 10 active ILL requests at one time, a change we hope will encourage better planning. Students should remember to download and then delete their articles from ILLiad because, if the pdf files are sitting in their ILLiad account, those items will count toward their 10-item active limit.
  • Graduate students and faculty also have new restrictions on the number of simultaneous active requests, namely 15 and 20 respectively. We have found in practice that the average number of total requests per user per year is 15, so this change should have a limited impact.

In September, 2009, we had to cancel around 750 interlibrary loan requests out of a total of almost 3500 requests that we received that month. Most of those cancellations (around 64%) were due to the fact that the item was already available at the Pollak Library. The remaining cancellations were mostly either due to customer cancellation, duplicate request, our inability to find a library to lend the item, or because the book was published recently.

During the past year, we are proud that we have secured over 40,000 books, articles, or other items for our CSUF students, staff and faculty that they could not get by visiting our electronic or paper collections. We look forward to serving you with excellent interlibrary services again this year.

* CSU Annual Library statistics:


  1. Jennifer Kuehn
    Jennifer Kuehn

    Interesting information on ILL borrowing issues at your school and changes you are making. How are you restricting requests for current year imprints? Are you cancelling them or referring for purchase? Thanks for sharing—-

    October 9, 2009
  2. Ron Rodriguez, Access Services Unit Head, Pollak Library
    Ron Rodriguez, Access Services Unit Head, Pollak Library

    ILL requests for current year materials are processed manually via ILLiad by ILL staff. These requests are canceled because our experience indicates that current year imprints are most often high demand books and are currently being used by the lending libraries or are otherwise unavailable from the lending providers. Librarians at the Reference Desk refer users to earlier usable editions or alternative materials that meet the information need. We do maintain the information on book requests that are canceled for the purpose of potential purchase consideration.

    October 15, 2009

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