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Borrowing Tips

Duplicates (What to do when you receive duplicate copies of a requested item.)
Genealogical material from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
Items requested in WorldCat that never arrive
Lost Items in LINKcat
"Not Wanted After " dates
NonLINKcat libraries--Monitor your LINKcat account!
Requesting Reference items
Items that are Too New to Request
Trace Items in LINKcat
What if we receive items we didn't request?

What to do when you receive duplicate copies of a requested item

  • Contact the Madison OuterLibrary Loan office by email or phone (608-266-6302) for assistance.

Genealogical material from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

"The National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) is a very useful resource for patrons wanting genealogical materials and libraries that want to help their patrons obtain them. The following web sites provide just a few links to help patrons on their way to discovering the wonders found there. Patrons may use the National Archives themselves if the item they have requested through interlibrary loan is not available and happens to be owned there. There are charges for some services offered by the National Archives, but since patrons may access the site themselves their library does not have to be involved. Remember, public libraries may NOT charge their patrons for interlibrary loan.
The National Archives has published and is offering free of charge some finding aids for using their vast collections of materials.  You can view a list of these aids at Information about how to borrow NARA materials is found at Topics are listed alphabetically with separate headings including Census, Genealogy, Photocopying, and Fees.  For information about how to order frequently-requested family history records: .
For more information about NARA, go to their web site at .

--thanks to Terry Wilcox, Reference and Loan Library, for this tip.

Items requested in WorldCat that never arrive:

What to do if your requested item does not arrive and/or you do not receive an [UNFILLED] response:

  • If you have not received an ILL item within 8 weeks and have not received any information regarding it, email Madison OuterLibrary Loan Office.
  • In your email, include:
    • Request Transaction #
    • a short note specifying that the item has not arrived
    • the date the item was requested
    • if the Request Transaction number is not available, include title, author, format, patron name and ID and any special notes.

What to do when an item is indicated as Lost, Trace, Damaged, AV Repair, etc. in LINKcat

When you find the item in LINKcat, but the only copy (or all copies) in LINKcat displays the status of Lost, Trace, Damaged, AV repair, etc. check the date the status was set before placing a request in OCLC WorldCat. OLL practice is to wait four weeks after the status is set to request an item. Put a note in the Notes field, for example: "The only copy in LINKcat is Lost (trace, damaged, AV Repair, etc.) and status was set on (date)."

"Not Wanted After" dates:

Many library patrons (and sometimes library staff) think that when they request an item, if they say an item is not wanted after a certain date, it will somehow come sooner.  Please remember, and help your staff, colleagues, and patrons understand, that this is NOT the case. In fact, it can have just the opposite effect.

To determine if a patron truly has a "Not wanted after " date, and if so, what it is, you might try asking "What is the latest possible date this material will be useful to you?"

One more thing: If the "Not wanted after" date is TOO soon, you likely won't get it, no matter what date you enter! Anything with a "not wanted after" date of a week or less is too short. Two weeks may also be too short, but may be possible.

NonLINKcat libraries--Monitor your LINKcat account!

If you are a nonLINKcat library, you have a LINKcat patron account for your library, so that you may place holds for your patrons on items that your library doesn't own, that are in LINKcat.  See "Using LINKcat (for nonLINKcat libraries.)" [password required]

It is very important that you:

  • monitor your library's LINKcat account every day.
  • return items borrowed from LINKcat libraries by the due date.
  • renew items, if your patrons need them longer.
  • if items become overdue, retrieve them from your patron and return them.
  • reimburse owning libraries when items become lost.

It is very important that you contact the owning library, or Madison Public Library, at 608-266-6357, when:

  • an item is checked out to your library but you don't receive it.
  • you return an item, but it remains checked out to you.
  • you are unable to renew an item. 
  • you receive an item in Delivery that you have requested, but it is not checked out to you.

Requesting Reference items

Before requesting items cataloged as Reference that are owned by SCLS public libraries through OuterLibrary Loan, contact the owning SCLS library to see if they will photocopy a particular section for you or loan to you for in library use only. If you feel you have a special case and/or know of a library outside the system that circulates the item, send the request on WorldCat only if you have photocopy information (if patron doesn't know what they want, ask for a photocopy of table of contents or index). Please remember to tell your patron that 30 pages is the maximum that can be photocopied.

What items are too new to request?

Items that are less than 6 months old, as determined by the publication date on, are too new to request outside of SCLS.

What if we receive items that we did not request?

We make every attempt to get lending libraries to heed the "Ship To" addresses in our ILL requests. However that doesn't always happen.  If you receive an item that your library did not request please follow the steps below:

  1. Check the paperwork for 'Patron' information.  If an SCLS library's name is listed as the patron (e.g. Patron: Library, Sauk City) please forward the item in delivery directly to that library's OLL department.  If just a name is listed as the patron (e.g. Patron: Smith, Marie) forward item to Madison Public Library's OLL department.
  2. If no patron information is listed please call or email the OLL Clearinghouse - 608-266-6302.
  3. If you don't have time to contact the OLL office, send the item in delivery to to us (Attn:OLL) and we will route it to the correct library.

If you're continually receiving items from a library that you shouldn't, please let us know and we will contact that library.


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

For more information, contact: