OBTAINING GENEALOGICAL MATERIAL
THROUGH THE INTER-LIBRARY LOAN PROGRAM
By Dennis J Yancey dyancey@miami.edu

This page is rather dated - but I continue to use Interlibrary Loan to obtain copies of  hard to obtain materials.


Inter-Library Loan:

No single library will have all the books or material you need or request in your genealogical research. No one library has the resources to meet your every demand. BUT the Inter-Library Loan program is a service that greatly widens your access to published genealogical material throughout the world. Most Public Libraries and a good majority of Private Libraries are part of a program that allows one library to request a resource (book, video etc.) which it itself does not own, from another library that does own such a resource and is also a participating member of said program. Many things make this library loan service possible. The major thing that makes this possible and relatively easy - is a comprehensive database known as OCLC - containing the holdings of most libraries in the US and many around the world, and coupled with this, the software used by member libraries connected through a computer network that allows them to submit and receive loan requests to and from all participating libraries. There may be costs involved, but I think many would be surprised to know how much can be obtained on loan, for free!

 

Most Genealogical Collections are non-lending:

The one thing that genealogists, requesting resources through the Inter Library Loan Program, soon find out, though, is that at most libraries the genealogical collections (and the books that make them up) are under a non lending policy - meaning that they are not lent out through the Inter-Library Loan Program. After finding this out, many people give up on attempting to obtain genealogical resources, but the following are some procedures, tips and pointers that should help you obtain a great deal of the genealogical material you are requesting through the inter-library loan services:

 

How to request material:

To request material through the inter-library loan program. Go to your local library. Check to see if the resource you desire is held by the library or ANY of its sister branches. If not go to the Inter-Library Loan Department of your library and ask them how you go about obtaining and filling out a "Inter Library Loan Request" (in branch libraries there may not actually be an inter-library loan department - and you may be helped by a reference librarian or a circulation staff member). They will usually give you a form to fill out. In filling out the form give as much information as possible concerning the requested item: name, author, year of publication, and if you know a library who owns it. Be sure to ask about any charges (though you may be surprised what you can get for free). And the charges may be up to the lending library, not the requesting library. Keep in mind that the lending is done from one library to another - not from a library to you as an individual. Be sure to include your phone number on the form - so that they can contact you if they have any questions. After the form is submitted it may be a few weeks before you hear anything from the library, you may want to periodically call the library and ask about the status of the request.


Some Tips to help you get what you need through the Inter-Library Loan Service:

1) Ask for photocopies when possible. Many people don't know that as part of the Inter-Library Loan program you can request photocopies of portions of the desired source, instead of the actual book or material. You will find that if you do this in the right way you can often get copies of just what you want without actually obtaining, on loan, the actual book. Libraries will rarely xerox the entire source (due to copyright laws). Number of pages requested is usually kept under 20-30 pages. The following are some examples of notes that you can write on your requesting form to get xerox copies of what you want, in case the resource is not lending material.

"If non- lending material, Please xerox all entries of surname YANCEY"
"If non- lending material, Please xerox pages 25-35
"If non- lending material, Please xerox entries of surname YANCEY in index"
"If non- lending material, Please xerox entire index of book"
"If non- lending material, Please xerox Title Page and address of author or publisher"
"If non- lending material, Please xerox article about "John Yancey"
"If non- lending material, Please xerox first 20 pages

2) Find Out who Owns a copy of the resource. Even if you are unable to obtain the item requested or a copy of it through Inter-Library Loan. The people processing the request should be able to give you a list of libraries that own the item. Ask for the address & phone number of libraries that you may wish to contact. Contact the library and ask them about how you may go about accessing the item in question. Visit the library yourself, if this is possible - but make sure that the item is in the library and in its expected location before you make the trip - you may be able to place it on hold. If you cannot visit the library, you may want to see, if for a fee, they may be able to send you xerox copies or a fax of pages from the item. You also may want to ask them, if they know of people who do research at the library (usually for a fee) that they can refer you to. You may also want to check out the lists of libraries at the following Web Sites:
http://sjcpl.lib.in.us/homepage/PublicLibraries/PublicLibraryServers.html
http://www.lights.com/webcats/

3) Request from the libraries most apt to loan. As was stated most genealogical collections are under a non-lending policy - and you will not be able to obtain material on loan from these collections. You will find, however, that many libraries may hold certain biographies, local/county histories, historical reference material, National Archive material outside of such a genealogical collection and will be willing to loan such material (this is often more likely in Academic University Libraries than Public Libraries). You will even find that in some University libraries they have NO genealogical collection per se, and the limited genealogical books they do have are housed with the general collection and may very well be available through inter-library loan. Certain specific Major Libraries may be the best site for obtaining a certain type of material. The Center for Research Libraries (CRL) will lend US Federal Census Microfilms (and a lot of other hard to get material) to Libraries with which it has lending contracts. The Univeristy of ****** is another good library to request from, they have a large collection of genealogical material that they have microfiched - and often create microfiche to microfiche copies upon request, sometimes for free (you get to keep it).

4) Search On-Line Databases. You may be able to access the records in the WORLDCAT  / OCLC database of Library Holdings (which Inter-Library Loan offices use) yourself, through various on-line database search systems.

https://www.worldcat.org/

http://oclc.org/en-US/home.html?redirect=true


You will probably find out though, that they do not give access directly to an individual person, but have access contracts with specific libraries - and the patrons at that library may be able to do an on-line search (possibly for a fee). When you use this system to find books about a particular topic or name, you will be able to tell what libraries own the item. You should also record the Accession Number (OCLC Number) and place this number on your Inter-Library Loan Request - if you are requesting something that you found on First-Search.

5) How to reduce charges. Very few libraries charge for loans of the actual book. The charges usually come into play when photocopies are requested. Some libraries may charge a flat processing fee. Other libraries may not charge you anything, if the Lending Library does not charge anything (It is often the Lending Library that asseses the charges of photocopy requests). Various libraries have a policy that anything under a certain number of pages is free and anything above that they charge. If you see that you are paying a lot for photocopies, see if you know anyone who works at a University or a library (and are often given free inter-Library Loan photocopy privileges) who may be able to request the photocopies for you.

6) Direct your questions and requests to the right people. You will find that in many libraries the person you give the Inter-Library Loan Request form is not the same person, or even in the same department, as those who are actually processing the request through the on-line system. Your best bet in resolving questions and problems is to direct them to those people who are actually processing the request. In many public library systems the loan processing may be done at the Central library and not in the local branch libraries. Try to obtain the phone number of the "Inter-Library Loan Department" who processes the request and contact them directly with your questions.

7) Lists of Family Name Resources. Try to obtain lists of books and other resources that may have been compiled for a certain surname or research topic.


For a list of sources which have Yancey Family Genealogical Data see the folowing Web Site: Yancey Resources