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General Guidelines and Protocols

Things that should not be requested outside SCLS
Things that may be requested, but are difficult to obtain
Requesting Obituaries
Request tracking
Due dates and renewals
Returning materials
Recalled materials
Canceling requests
Limiting requests
Requesting Multiple Copies


  • The availability of interlibrary and outerlibrary loan does not relieve any library of the responsibility of developing its own collection.
  • Borrowing libraries should make every effort to exhaust the resources in their own collection or LINKcat before resorting to interlibrary loan.
  • In some cases, items requested should be considered for purchase.
  • Borrowing libraries may not pass on borrowing or postage charges to their patrons.

Things that should not be requested outside of SCLS

  • Items that are included in LINKcat (exceptions: items marked Lost, Trace, Damaged, or AV Repair for at least 4 weeks may be requested.)
  • Items that are less than 6 months old, as determined by the publication date on  Many libraries will not loan items newer than 6 months old.
  • Entire issues of magazines. Note: whole issues do not circulate and it is a violation of copyright to request that an entire issue be photocopied.
  • Reference items. You may request a photocopy of some part of the item with citation.
  • E-books and downloadable audiobooks: Note: most OverDrive-type dowloadable e-book and audiobook licenses do not allow for interlibrary loan sharing.
  • Computer games. Most libraries do not lend computer games.
  • Rosetta Stone software. Most libraries do not lend Rosetta Stone software and the license does not allow the software to be installed on more than one workstation. 
  • Vinyl LP recording

Things that may be requested, but are difficult to obtain

Many libraries have limits on what they will lend. Libraries will typically only lend an item if it is on the shelf. No reserves are placed for interlibrary loan requests. Things that may be difficult to obtain include:

  • Audiovisual materials
  • Small-town newspapers on microfilm
  • Theses
  • Complete musical scores
  • Multi-volume sets
  • Genealogical materials. Note: actual materials rarely circulate. You may request a photocopy of information if you know a specific resource, and complete names, dates, towns, etc.
  • Articles from electronic journals

Requesting Obituaries

A) Obituaries from Wisconsin Newspapers

You may be able to find the obituary for the patron right away!

  • Check LINKcat online index - for obituaries that appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal and a few other Wisconsin newspapers
    • Newspapers included in the index
    • The index only lists the date the obituary appeared. It does not include the full obituary, however, it is a great way to verify dates.
    • Change the default search from "Library Catalog" to "Subject" and enter your search terms
  • Search Archive of Wisconsin Newspapers which includes Wisconsin newspapers from 2005 to present with a 60-day embargo

B) Not found in above sources?

  • Find the newspaper in FirstSearch and submit an OLL request (in the same way you submit an article/photocopy request)
    • Many requests are for the Wisconsin State Journal. To make it easier to find in FirstSearch, the OCLC accession number for the WSJ is 5025315
  • In article title field enter "Obituary request for [name of deceased]". In article author field enter "NA"
  • Include everything you can about the obituary in the notes field:
    • Dates (please indicate "date of death" or "date of obit")
    • Name of spouse and/or maiden name if available
    • Place of death or last place of residence
    • Any other information patron can provide
  • If we are not able to narrow the death date to a one-week period, we will most likely ask for the microfilm and have it sent to your library for the patron to search. Most libraries will not search more than a one week period

C) None of the above is possible?

Request Tracking

Follow the instructions for "Checking Request Status" in the "Using OuterLibrary Loan and WorldCat" document.

Due Dates and Renewals

Loan periods are set by the lending library. Please let your patrons know that the loan period for an item from another library may be shorter than the loan period they normally get at your own library and encourage them to use the item in the time given.

Please note that the due date on an interlibrary or outerlibrary loan item is the date the item is due back at your library, not the lending library.

Some libraries will not renew items they have loaned. Most libraries already give extended loan periods for materials to allow for delivery time. Often "No Renewals" is stamped on the paperwork that comes with an item. If so, make the patron aware of this restriction.

You may request renewals for some materials. If a renewal becomes necessary, log into your OuterLibrary Loan Account, and pull up the item you want to renew (either by searching in the "search box" in the upper right corner of the screen, or by choosing "Checked Out Items" from the menu bar at the left.) Click on the transaction number of the item, then click on the "Request Renewal" button, if available, in the upper left of the table. If the "Request Renewal" button does not appear, it cannot be renewed. If the renewal request is denied, return the item by the original due date. If the renewal request is approved, you will find information about the new due date in the notes area of the request.

IMPORTANT: Do NOT request renewals for any items that are indicated as "No Renewals" by the lending library. Return them by the due date indicated.

Returning Materials

  • Borrowing libraries are responsible for returning materials promptly, in good condition, and in the same manner in which they were received. If it came to you in delivery, you can return it in delivery. If it came to you in the mail, you need to return in the mail and you will have to pay postage. This also means packing the item in the same type of material it was sent in; do not return AV items in jiffy bags.
  • Retain any paperwork that comes with an item and return it with the item.
  • In the case of loss or damage, you must reimburse the lending library or provide replacement, whichever they require.
  • You are responsible for requested items from the time they leave the lending library until they are returned. If an item is lost in the mail before you receive it, or after you return it, your library is held responsible.
  • Be respectful of other libraries. The relationships developed between libraries on OCLC are very important and our reputation as a good borrower is necessary if we want to be able to continue to borrow.
  • For specifics on how to return items using delivery, see "Returning ILL Items" at

Recalled Materials

If the owning library recalls an item, contact the patron and return the item to the owning library immediately.  (Fortunately, this does not happen very often.)

Canceling Requests

You may cancel a request by logging into your OuterLibrary Loan account, and searching for the item in the search box in the upper right corner, or finding the item in the "Outstanding Requests" table and then clicking on the transaction number. You will see a "Cancel" option in the upper left of the Detailed View table. 

You should cancel requests in the following instances:

  • Your patron no longer wants the item.
  • You've accidentally submitted a duplicate request.

Depending on where in the process the item is, you may still receive the item and be responsible for returning it.

Limiting Requests

We will limit to 100 the number of items a patron can request system wide per year. Each library may set their own limits based on local staffing and resources. (For example, Madison Public Library will keep their local limit of five requests per day per patron, and a total of 50 requests per calendar year per patron.) 

We recommend a daily request limit for patrons for several reasons:

  • It helps patrons understand that ILL materials are different from our system materials (they have shorter check-out periods and often cannot be renewed).
  • It prevents patrons from receiving more ILL items than they can use by the due date.
  • It ensures that we can provide the highest quality, most equitable service possible with a finite staff.

Requesting Multiple Copies

Sometimes libraries want to request multiple copies of an item owned in LINKcat for a book club or for classroom use.

While this is permitted by the Wisconsin ILL Guidelines, those guidelines are driven, in part, by the needs of smaller libraries and smaller systems with access to fewer copies than SCLS generally has. Therefore, we discourage this practice.

However, sometimes an item is needed in a format that SCLS owns few copies of, such as large print. In cases like this, it is permissible to request through OLL, with the following caveats:

  • OLL should not be used to circumvent existing hold lists. OLL staff will evaluate these requests on a case-by-case basis, and reserves the right to cancel requests if there are holds on the requested item.
  • A large print item in demand in our system is unlikely to be available in quantity from other libraries.
  • The lending library is in charge of the due date, which may not correlate well with the patron's needs. Patrons should consider whether or not a shorter loan period is something they can live with before pursuing OLL as an option.


(Library users:  This information is for staff at SCLS member libraries.  If you have questions about your local library's limits, please contact that library directly.)


For information about placing OuterLibrary Loan requests for your patrons, contact Madison OuterLibrary Loan Office by email or at 608-266-6302.

For more information, contact: