Association of Rhode Island Health Sciences Libraries

ARIHSL Interlibrary Loan Code and Guidelines


The 2002 Revision of the ILL Code and Guidelines reflect significant changes in the actual ILL process. New technologies continue to advance, streamlining procedures and making information far more accessible than ever before. Trends in resource sharing are changing the face of ILL and affording end-users the ability to request needed materials in a more direct fashion, without as much library intervention. It should be noted, however, that libraries are still the guiding force behind this process. It should still be the intent of the institutions participating in this agreement to cooperate with each other in compliance with this Code and Guidelines in an effort to make it as easy and efficient as possible for our users to obtain the information they require.


Institutional member libraries of the Association of Rhode Island Health Sciences Librarians (ARIHSL) continue to derive substantial benefits from the Association’s resource-sharing network. Since 1988, when the last CODE and GUIDELINES were written, the combined forces of an economic recession, the reshaping of health care delivery, declining payment for medical services, and dramatic advances in information technology have resulted in some significant changes in these libraries.

Statistics do not tell the whole story. Our joint venture, the UNION LIST OF MEDICAL JOURNALS OF RHODE ISLAND (now in its 14th edition), contains the holdings of 28 libraries. This reflects the closure of one hospital’s library and the effects of a merger on another. Several libraries are staffed fewer hours per week and/or by fewer people than they were four years ago. Many libraries have significantly reduced their journal subscriptions and book purchases.

In this climate, access to the current holdings of each other’s libraries supported by "just-in-time" delivery of those materials to our patrons becomes a service of increasing importance and measurable value. Participating members in ARIHSL’s Interlibrary Loan agreement now have access to 4,762 journals within the state, representing over a half-million dollars worth of journals! The modest commitment of staff, time and money required of each library in order to participate in this venture yields a commendable return-on-investment that justifies membership.

This CODE and its accompanying GUIDELINES revise the earlier resource-sharing agreement between those Rhode Island libraries whose parent organization provides health care services, education or research. It updates some procedural aspects of the interlibrary loan process that are specific to health library setting, and is consistent with progress in current library practice.

Each library’s institutional representative is required to sign this document on an annual basis. It remains in effect from January-December of each year. By this mechanism, institutions indicate their understanding of the requirements and benefits of the CODE and its GUIDELINES, and formally states their willingness and intention to comply with said provisions.


The libraries represented in the membership of the Association of Rhode Island Health Sciences Librarians (ARIHSL) have enjoyed an enduring history of cooperation. During 35 years of resource-sharing, the membership has provided the primary mechanism through which health care related information is distributed. Annually through the network, 15,000-20,000 items are provided to patrons throughout Rhode Island and surrounding communities.

ARIHSL represents over 30 institutions, predominantly hospitals, but including sites of higher education and others with a vested interest in health care. Its vital publication, the UNION LIST OF MEDICAL JOURNALS IN RHODE ISLAND, now in its twelfth edition, has served as the vehicle through which local interlibrary sharing of resources is made possible.

However, to continue to provide effective interlibrary loan services in an era of multiple affiliations and increasing technological sophistication, it has become necessary to more formally state our resource-sharing agreement. This CODE and accompanying GUIDELINES have been developed in response to a charge to the ARIHSL Interlibrary Loan Committee to compose a document that addresses common areas of concern and facilitates operational aspects of the interlibrary loan process.

Each library is asked to designate a representative whose signature on this document shall indicate the library’s agreement to abide by the provisions of the CODE and its GUIDELINES.

Submitted by the
Interlibrary Loan Committee

Jo-Anne Aspri (KCM), Chair
Raynna Bowlby (BRN)
Rachel Carpenter (JPA)
Ann LeClaire (MIR)
Grace Varghese (GHB)
Linda Walton (BTH)
July 1988


I. Introduction

The sharing of resources among libraries to economically expand access to information for each patron is a venture that is mutually beneficial and should be encouraged. The ARIHSL resource-sharing network now embodies the definition set forth by the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science/Special Libraries Association Task Force: "A resource-sharing network is a formal arrangement whereby several libraries or other organizations participate in exchange of information, materials, services or all three for some functional purpose." The goal of this interlibrary loan agreement is to ensure equitable distribution of requests such that a library’s borrowing from the ARIHSL network reasonably approximates its lending to the ARIHSL network. Sharing resources via interlibrary loan serves as an adjunct to, not a substitute for, development of a library’s own collection to meet its recurring needs.

This CODE sets forth rights and obligations in interlibrary lending and borrowing between these libraries. Basic elements included embrace those outlined in the ALA’s NATIONAL INTERLIBRARY LOAN CODE (2002) and MODEL INTERLIBRARY LOAN CODE FOR REGIONAL, STATE, LOCAL OR OTHER SPECIAL GROUPS OF LIBRARIES (?), and reflect other relevant policies and codes such as NN/LM (National Network of Libraries of Medicine) , BHSL (Basic Health Sciences Library) Network and LORI (Library of Rhode Island) etc. when appropriate.

II. Definitions

  1. A library is an "entity that provides all of the following:
    1. An organized collection of printed or other library materials or a combination thereof.
    2. A staff trained to provide and interpret such materials as required to meet the informational ... or educational needs of a clientele.
    3. An established schedule in which services of the staff are available to clientele.
    4. The physical facilities necessary to support such a collection, staff and schedule."

    (American National Standards for Library and Information Sciences and Related Publishing Practices-Library Statistics. ANSI Z39.7-1995. New York City: American National Standards Institute, 1983, (Revised – 1995), p.4.

  2. An interlibrary loan (ILL) is a transaction in which library material or a copy of the material is made available by one library to another upon request.
  3. A borrowing library is a library which initiates a request for materials.
  4. The lending library is the owner of the material sent to a borrowing library.

III. Purpose

The purpose of interlibrary loan as defined by this code is to obtain, upon request of a library user, material not available in the user’s local library.

IV. Scope

Under the terms of this agreement, it is permissible to request, through interlibrary loan, any type of library material. The lending library has the privilege of deciding if the request shall be honored and whether the original or a copy shall be sent.

V. Responsibilities of Borrowing Libraries

  1. Each library should provide the resources to meet the ordinary needs and interests of its primary clientele. Materials requested from another library under this CODE should be limited to those items that do not conform to the library’s collection development policy or for which there is not recurring demand.
  2. Borrowing libraries agree to follow guidelines as agreed upon by ARIHSL institutional members (see GUIDELINES).
  3. It is the responsibility of the borrowing library to, first, address any problems, recurring or otherwise, with a given lending library and to try to agree upon a suitable solution. For unresolved problems, see Section IX – Violation of Code.
  4. Borrowing libraries shall report quarterly statistics using the online statistics form on the ARIHSL Website. (see GUIDELINES).
  5. Borrowing libraries are responsible for complying with Federal Copyright Laws (Title 7, U.S. Code) or CONTU Guidelines. An indication of compliance shall be provided with each copy request.
  6. The borrowing library shall comply with the conditions of loan established by the lending library, and is responsible for returning borrowed materials promptly and in good condition.
  7. The safety of borrowed materials is the responsibility of the borrowing library from the time the material leaves the lending library until it is received by the lending library. The borrowing library is responsible for packaging the material so as to ensure its return in good condition. If damage or loss occurs, the borrowing library must meet all costs of repairs or replacement, in accordance with the preferences of the lending library.

VI. Responsibilities of Lending Libraries

  1. A lending library will practice as liberal a policy as possible regarding interlibrary loans with due consideration to the interests of its primary clientele.
  2. Lending libraries agree to follow guidelines as agreed upon by ARIHSL members (see GUIDELINES).
  3. It is the responsibility of the lending library to, first, address any problems, recurring or otherwise, with a given borrowing library and to try to arrive upon a suitable solution. For unresolved problems, see Section IX – Violation of Code.
  4. Lending libraries shall report quarterly statistics using the online statistics form on the ARIHSL Website (see GUIDELINES).
  5. Lending libraries may refuse to fill a request that they feel is in violation of the Copyright Law or CONTU Guidelines.
  6. Lending libraries filling a loan request shall do so within three (3) working days.
  7. Lending libraries unable to fill a request shall respond within one (1) working day, and shall indicate the reason(s) why.

VII. Charges

ARIHSL institutional member libraries shall provide free interlibrary loan services to each other.

VIII. Duration of Loan

  1. The duration of loan is the period of time that an item may remain with the borrowing library and is determined by the lender.
  2. The borrowing library shall request a renewal only in unusual circumstances, and the request should be received at the lending library prior to the original due date.
  3. All material on loan is subject to recall after seven (7) days and the borrowing library shall make every effort to comply.
  4. Interlibrary loan material should be returned promptly and in good condition.

IX. Violation of Code

  1. The Interlibrary Loan Committee shall serve as an advisory panel for interlibrary loan issues.
    1. The Committee’s chair shall attempt to resolve problems with individual libraries within a defined time-frame.
    2. Problems unresolved after this time will be referred to the Committee for action within a time-frame defined by the committee.
    3. The committee may recommend that sanctions be imposed on a library unwilling to resolve complaints lodged against it.
  2. Failure to report statistics for two consecutive years disqualifies a library from participating in this agreement for the following year.


X. Term of Agreement

  1. An Agreement, signed by the institutional representatives of a member library will be submitted annually to the ARIHSL Treasurer and will be kept on file by the ILL Committee Chair. Said agreement serves as an institution’s commitment to follow the terms of this CODE and GUIDELINES.
  2. Once signed, this agreement shall remain in effect for a period of one year, from January 1 through December 31.
  3. Renewals of this agreement are included with ARIHSL Membership Renewal Forms and will be solicited annually in December for the coming year.


I. Introduction

An effective interlibrary loan network derives its strength from members who strive to be as cooperative as possible. While every institution has a unique procedure for handling interlibrary loans, these GUIDELINES encourage uniformity in the content and placement of requests and, when followed, provide for the equitable distribution of interlibrary loan requests among the institutional members of ARIHSL.

Since the development of the first GUIDELINES, DOCLINE, including the Loansome Doc component, has emerged as the primary vehicle for the transmission of interlibrary loan requests by libraries whose parent organizations provide health care services, education, or research. Because of its affordability, (there is no direct charge to use DOCLINE) and simple procedures (outlined in the DOCLINE Manual, National Library of Medicine, March 1989 et seq.), DOCLINE has earned its place as the standard of interlibrary loan practice in this setting.

II. Verification of citations

To insure that a lending library is not burdened with receiving ILL requests for items that either do not exist – (bibliographic verification) or that it does not own – (location verification), borrowing libraries shall make a reasonable effort to confirm both of these facts. It should be noted that the entire verification process has changed significantly within the past few years. This is largely due to new versions of DOCLINE and other automated ILL systems, enhancements too many automated bibliographic databases such as SERHOLD and LOCATORPlus and the increase in use and availability of a multitude of local automated holdings lists. The results of these changes have made verification more automatic and a lot easier to accomplish. Therefore, there should be very few requests transmitted with inaccurate or incomplete information or sent to unverified locations. However, in the event that this does occur, the lending library has the right to reject such requests.

  1. Bibliographic verification - The borrowing library should verify that the requested item is described completely and accurately. A full bibliographic citation should be provided. Sources for bibliographic verification are listed below.

1. For monographs and audiovisual material - Unique identifying or standard numbers such as an ISBN, OCLC Accession Number or call numbers should be provided whenever possible. Sources for verification of bibliographic data include:

    1. LOCATORPlus
    3. Local automated holdings lists ( ie. – HELIN, CLAN, individual hospital’s holdings)
  1. For journal articles – The majority of requests are generated from PubMed searches which can automatically be requested through DOCLINE with no further verification needed. All other journal articles should be verified in indexes and databases such as, but not limited to:
  2. LOCATORPlus
  3. Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health – (CINAHL)

3. If the item requested cannot be verified, the terms "UTV" or "unable to verify" shall be noted in the request.

  1. Such terms as "unpublished report", "private paper", "verbal comment", etc., are not statements of verification.

B. Location verification – The borrowing library should make every attempt to insure that an ILL request will be submitted to libraries which hold the requested material. Serial and monograph holdings should be made electronically available to all member libraries via serial or book union listing.

    1. Serials: Each ARIHSL institutional member shall make its journal holdings known to the other libraries via SERHOLD. The DOCLINE system utilizes this serial holdings data to automatically direct ILL requests to holding libraries via the routing tables established by each individual Docline library. Routine prefixing – (directing a given request to a specific lender and bypassing the Docline cell configuration) is discouraged. Compliance with standard DOCLINE routing procedures should insure prompt service from institutional members.
    2. Monographs: Institutional members are strongly encouraged to share their monograph holdingsinformation through participation in a "book union list" project. As yet, there is no comprehensive verification source listing ARIHSL monograph or audiovisual holdings. Online catalogs are currently available at several area hospitals and most RI academic institutions. Borrowing libraries should consult those catalogs to verify the location of monograph or audiovisual materials.

III. Copyright

  1. When requesting an interlibrary loan that will be filled by a photocopy of the item, determination must be made as to whether the request complies with the Copyright Law or the CONTU Guidelines. This must then be noted on the interlibrary loan request form which is sent to a potential lending library.
  2. According to (?) a library must maintain copyright data on its requests for photocopied materials for a period of (?) years.

IV. Form of request

  1. Institutional members of ARIHSL shall use DOCLINE for transmitting ILL requests. Other means such as the telephone, telefax or electronic mail may be used as well but only when mutually agreed upon by the institutions involved.
  2. No library will lend or photocopy directly for an individual on an ILL basis except by pre-arrangement between the borrowing and lending libraries.

V. Transmitting interlibrary loan requests

Items transmitted via DOCLINE shall conform to policies and procedures as outlined in the DOCLINE Manual.

VI. Placement of requests (DOCLINE Routing Tables)

  1. Within ARIHSL, the recommended order of placement of requests is based upon a hierarchical ranking computed primarily from each library’s ILL statistics along with a variety of other factors.
    1. ARIHSL libraries are advised to direct their borrowing activities according to the ranking, moving from heaviest net borrowers (libraries that borrow more than they lend) to heaviest net lenders (libraries that lend more than they borrow).
    2. The ILL Committee recommends that this ranking be reflected in the DOCLINE cell configurations for each ARIHSL member library.
    3. It is recommended that DOCLINE cells be updated at least annually to reflect any changes in ARIHSL borrowing patterns.
  2. Generally, libraries choose to arrange their interlibrary loan activity with individual library or groups of libraries into a priority order. This order is likely to differ somewhat for each library. For libraries in ARIHSL, this order may be affected by:
    1. Unique arrangements, such as:
      1. Brown and its affiliated hospital libraries
      2. Hospital mergers or established networks such as Lifespan, Care New England or VA Libraries Network.
      3. Academics
      4. State institutions’ libraries
    2. Local consortium, such as ARIHSL
    3. Broader consortium, such as BHSL or FreeShare
    4. Individual reciprocal agreements with non-ARIHSL libraries
    5. RML hierarchy
      1. Resource libraries
      2. National Library of Medicine
    6. Other libraries known to own the desired item

VII. Statistics

  1. The ILL Committee reviews ILL statistics reported by members on the ARIHSL Website in order to:
    1. Measure the total and individual library volume of items loaned and borrowed; and
    2. Detect and monitor changes in ILL volume or patterns from year to year that may impact the ILL CODE and/or GUIDELINES.
  2. ARIHSL libraries shall report their ILL statistics on a quarterly basis at minimum in conjunction with the posting of DOCLINE statistics by the NLM.
    1. The master form for reporting statistics is posted on the ARIHSL Website.
  3. To those ARIHSL libraries who are also BHSL participants, the following applies:
    1. They will submit ILL Tally Sheets, upon request, in accordance with BHSL guidelines.



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Revision Draft – 10/22/02

ARIHSL ILL Committee