Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A New Way to Request Materials

On March 17, the GMILCS consortium introduced a new way to request materials from other libraries. Variously called "universal requests," "expanded requests," "direct requests," or "patron-initiated requests," this new procedure allows you to place your own interlibrary loan requests directly within the GMILCS system and have them delivered to the GMILCS library of your choice.

To do this, you must search in the GMILCS catalog, not the Merrimack Public Library catalog. You can go there two ways: from Merrimack's catalog, you can select the All GMILCS Libraries tab to go into the consortium catalog. Or you can go to the URL http://catalog.gmilcs.org/. Once there, search for the title you want, click on the Request Item button, enter your barcode and PIN, and click on login. The request screen will appear with a pull-down menu for you to select the pickup location. If you have logged in with a Merrimack card, the default pickup location will be Merrimack, but you can choose any convenient GMILCS library instead. Your request will be directed there and you will be called when your item is ready for pickup.

What's so great about this, anyway? For one thing, it may deliver your item faster. Rather than having to wait for something that is out in Merrimack, you may find your request filled with an available copy from, say, Derry, in much less time. You can also place requests even when the library is closed. You don't have to wait to talk to a Reference Librarian--although we will still be available to assist you and to place certain kinds of requests (more about that in a moment.) You will also be able to renew your own GMILCS interlibrary loans online without contacting the reference desk. And from the librarians' point of view, it will reduce the amount of paperwork associated with GMILCS interlibrary loan and free us up for other business.

Which brings me to the "certain kinds of requests" that require help from the Reference staff. Most requests for new books, DVDs, and magazines fall into this category. Why? Individual libraries have excepted some parts of their collections from "universal requests" so that they can be sure that their residents get priority, but they will make exceptions, and the librarians can ask for them. If you try to request something and get a message to contact your library, that's what you'll need to do. Also, any items that are not available through GMILCS can be requested from other locations by the Reference Librarians. Believe me, we will still have plenty to do, but this new system will make the delivery of this all-important service much more efficient.

If you have questions about interlibrary loan service, you can call us at 424-5021 or email.

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