Library ambassadors: written by Megan Thomas

woman standing and smiling

Hi everyone! My name is Megan and I am in my 3rd year of Biomedical Science. As one of the Library Ambassadors for this term I will be discussing one of the many free and convenient services the library has to offer; Interlibrary Loans.

Have you ever been looking to loan a specific textbook or article but are saddened to find that it isn’t carried by any of our on-campus libraries? Look no further because Interlibrary Loans (ILL) are here to your academic rescue! This convenient service allows University of Waterloo students and staff to borrow materials from another library for free. With ILL you can search a wide array of Ontario University and worldwide Library Catalogues for the books and articles you need thanks to the ILL system, RACER (Rapid Access to Collections by Electronic Requesting).

Requesting and receiving an ILL is extremely simple. The steps are as follows:

  1. Login to the ILL system-
  • User ID à The 14-digit barcode number on your WatCard
  • Password àyour last name in lower case letters
  1. Search for the book/article you are looking for using the ISBN or Author and Title
  2. Select the book/article and click ‘Get It’
  3. You have the option to loan the entire book or have part of it photocopied for you.

(For articles select ‘copy’ as they will be sent via desk-top delivery as long as copyright permits.)

  1. Select a Pickup Location

You will receive an email when your request is ready for pickup at the Circulation Desk from the library you selected. The status of your order can always be tracked through the ILL system by clicking on ‘My Requests’.

If the material you are looking for does not show up in the search results, use the ‘Blank Request Form’ option in RACER. Here, you can enter the details of the book or article you are after and the library will obtain for a copy for you.

This is an amazing resource that students must take advantage of as most books arrive within two weeks and articles usually arrive within a few days (depending on where they come from). The length of the borrowing period for books is three or six weeks depending on the material requested and the lending library. Copies of articles are not a loan, they are delivered via email and are yours to keep! For copyright reasons some may be delivered as a hard copy. Be sure to return your material to the circulation desk before it is due to avoid paying the overdue fee of $1 per day. There are no renewals on six week items and there may be renewals on three week items with the lending libraries permission.

As a science student there are often times when I don’t have access to certain scientific journals or articles online when researching for lab reports. Instead of trying to find another one, it only takes a few minutes to fill out a request on RACER. It is extremely simple, useful and best of all free! I highly encourage everyone to give Interlibrary Loans a try. Gone are the days of calling individual libraries to see if they carry what you need or worse, giving up the search. ILL’s are great because they meet the informational needs of staff, faculty, and students when the libraries resources are limited. Global libraries come together and share their collections to supply books and materials to satisfy our academic needs.