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VIVA: VIVA Interlibrary Loan Guidelines

Virginia's Academic Library Consortium

This guide has variable layouts and houses the majority of the "sub" pages for VIVA's website.

VIVA Interlibrary Loan Guidelines

The following minimal guidelines apply to resource sharing between VIVA institutions. As guidelines, libraries should strive to adhere to or exceed these principles and procedures whenever possible. Interlibrary Loan (ILL) matters not specifically addressed by these guidelines are determined by individual libraries. The VIVA Resource Sharing Committee (RSC) will review these guidelines every two years.

(Approved March 31, 2023)

I. Principles

  1. VIVA members should extend borrowing privileges as broadly as possible.
  2. VIVA members should adhere to the principles of the ILL Code for the United States.
  3. VIVA members not charge each other for interlibrary loan services.
  4. Contract negotiators for VIVA libraries are encouraged to negotiate sharing rights for online library resources.

 II. Procedures

  1. All interlibrary loan staff members of VIVA institutions should subscribe to the VIVAILL-L listserv.
  2. VIVA institutions should send all ILL requests to one another via an ILL system (such as OCLC’s WorldShare ILL, RapidILL, or direct lending via a vendor’s library management system like Ex Libris’ Alma).
  3. Libraries should update their ILL systems to non-lending status when services are not available.
  4. Libraries should strive to maintain current and up-to-date holdings associated with the ILL systems they are using, such as OCLC and RapidILL.
  5. VIVA libraries should maintain current lending policies and contact information in the OCLC Policies Directory.
  6. VIVA libraries should maintain accurate OCLC Constant Data, including “VIVA” in the Affiliation field and, return shipping addresses, and contact email addresses.
  7. VIVA libraries should communicate via the ILL system whenever possible, utilizing system notes, special messages, and “Conditional” functionality.
  8. VIVA libraries should monitor ILL system alerts and respond in a timely fashion.
  9. To the extent possible, VIVA libraries should strive to ship outgoing mail and open incoming mail daily (on business days).
  10. VIVA libraries should strive to provide prompt service and shipping to other VIVA libraries, utilizing courier service with tracking whenever possible. Virginia statewide contracts for UPS and FedEx are available to the public institutions through eVA.
  11. VIVA libraries should send physical items in packaging that is appropriate for the type of item being shipped and that will protect the item from being damaged or lost.
  12. When experiencing significant disruptions in systems or staffing, VIVA libraries should  promptly notify other ILL partners via the VIVAILL-L listserv.

III.   Returnables (including books, bound journals, audio/ visual materials, microform, etc.)

  1. VIVA libraries should loan most returnables for a minimum of eight weeks, and renew generously if possible. VIVA Libraries are encouraged to loan items for sixteen weeks per the EAST Resource Sharing Best Practices. Some materials, such as A/V items and bound journals, may have shorter loan periods.
  2. All VIVA libraries are encouraged to be as generous and responsive as possible in lending “special” items, such as new books, bound journals, A/V materials, microforms, and Special Collections.
  3. Lending libraries should respond to all requests (filled and unfilled), questions, and conditionals within two business days (excluding weekends and holidays).
  4. Lending libraries should use “Conditional” or communicate with the borrowing library in the following situations:
    • More information needed.
    • Additional time to fill needed.
    • When changing requests from a loan to copy or vice-versa.
    • Before sending an item with restrictions, e.g. Library Use Only.
    • When you have discovered that a citation is incorrect. This is particularly true when you have identified the correct item, but do not actually own it; providing the correct citation information if possible.
  5. Borrowing libraries should not place requested items on reserves or exhibition without prior agreement from the lending institution.
  6. When returning items, borrowing libraries should label packages clearly, using the address provided by the lending institution.
  7. Lending libraries may recall materials at any time, and borrowing libraries should respond in a timely manner.

IV.   Non-Returnables (including digital and physical copies)

  1. Whenever possible, VIVA libraries should deliver non-returnables to other libraries using secure electronic document transmission (such as Article Exchange or Odyssey). However, the lending library may send materials the fastest and most cost-effective way possible depending on the circumstances.
  2. VIVA libraries are encouraged to supply accessible (i.e., OCR) documents whenever possible.
  3. VIVA libraries are encouraged to supply a native, digital PDF (preferably in color when appropriate) from an electronic journal when possible and to scan from print only when an electronic copy of the same item is either not available or not licensed for sharing via ILL.
  4. VIVA libraries are encouraged to scan using a minimum document quality of 300 dpi; to scan in color when requested or when it is appropriate (e.g. articles with images); and to include supplemental sections such as footnotes and plates when present. However, libraries should also be mindful of file sizes.

V.         Special Loans

  1. Requests for special items are considered on a case-by-case basis, rather than being rejected automatically.
  2. When lending special loans, VIVA libraries may place additional restrictions on those items. Restrictions may include "in-library use only" and shorter loan periods. Borrowers of special items must closely follow all restrictions placed by the lending library.
  3.  Special collections in VIVA libraries should fulfill requests only after attempts at borrowing the material from general circulating collections are exhausted.
  4. The Guidelines For Interlibrary And Exhibition Loan Of Special Collections Materials (2012) by the American Library Association and Association of College and Research Libraries, Rare Books and Manuscripts Section regulates the interlibrary loan of special collections materials. When possible, it is preferred to provide a digital surrogate of requested material in Special Collections in lieu of a physical loan. In determining the feasibility of digitization versus a physical loan, library staff will consider: the nature of the request (chapter or full book), local resources (e.g. staff availability and equipment), the characteristics of the content requested (e.g. value, scarcity, and subject), digital copies already available online in repositories (e.g. HathiTrust and Internet Archive), copyright status, physical condition, and the end user’s needs.
  5. While fulfilling requests in the resource sharing system is preferred, other arrangements may be necessary.
  6. The appropriate care, shipping, handling, storage, and usage of loaned materials are responsibilities shared by both the borrowing and lending libraries. Expectations and requirements are negotiated between the lending and borrowing libraries prior to fulfilling the request and may require documenting in a formal lending agreement.
  7. Both the lending and borrowing libraries may place limitations on the usage of special collections items. These may include, but are not limited to special collections reading room use only, and consulting the work under the supervision of someone trained in special collections public services.
  8. Photography or other reproduction of loaned materials may be permitted, unless the borrowing institution receives explicit instructions from the lending institution that the materials may not be reproduced.  


Last Revision: January 27, 2023

Approved by the VIVA Resource Sharing Committee: January 27, 2023

Approved by VIVA Steering Committee: March 31, 2023