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Resource Sharing @ South Central Regional Library Council: The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Best Practices

Resource Sharing services and opportunities from SCRLC

IFLA Guidelines for Best Practice in ILL and Document Delivery

These are brief guidelines for use within your own interlibrary loan department and are standards to strive for. We are aware that not all libraries will be able to implement all the recommendations, but we would nevertheless encourage libraries to use these guidelines as a basis for their current service and to influence future development. 

For a link to the full document, click here.

General Recommendations

  • Streamline the process within your own library:
    • Create performance indicators for service levels and turnaround time. Monitor your performance against them.
    • Evaluate your own routines and change as the need arises.
    • Reduce the number of hands through which the requests are passing.
  • If possible, all requests should be handled in one electronic system, preferably with the ability to interoperate with other ILL/Document Delivery systems.
  • Keep statistics to suit national monitoring schemes and local needs.
  • Make holdings available on Union Catalogues and keep them up-to-date, with an indication of availability for resource sharing.
  • Explore reciprocal arrangements.


  • Use the expertise of skilled staff members.
  • Staff members should be continuously be able to develop competencies and be trained in using new tools and resources.
  • Encourage the exchange of experience at the local, national, and international level.


  • Hardware and software must be up-to-date.
  • Encourage users to submit requests electronically (when possible).
  • Give the end users the ability to check the status of requests online.
  • Handle all communication about requests electronically.


  • Focus on the needs and preferences of the end user: e.g. searchable PDFs.
  • Perform user surveys on a regular basis (when possible) to improve service.

Recommendations for the Requesting Library

  • ILL/Resource Sharing should be an integrated part of the library's service to users.
  • Introduce new technology in all processes.
  • Do not limit unreasonably the number of requests from users.
  • Involve the end user as much as possible in requesting items.
  • Process requests from end users promptly/as soon as possible.
  • Use your expertise to select supplying libraries according to the speed of service and cost.
  • Adhere to conditions of suppliers and treat material with care.
  • Offer vouchers as payments.
  • Deliver the materials as fast as possible to the end user:
    • Send copies electronically if at all possible.
    • Check speed of supply on a regular basis.

Recommendations for the Supplying Library

  • Use experienced staff to collect requested material from your collections in order to minimize mistakes.
  • Use the fastest delivery methods possible.
  • Try to satisfy requests in the best way possible, incorporating inclusive practices such as searchable PDFs.
  • Be sure your license agreements for your e-resources will allow ILL/Document Delivery.
  • Create online order forms and/or interoperate with other ILL/Document Delivery systems.
  • Make your library's lending policies available on your website and in policy directories.
  • Accept vouchers.
This project is administered by the South Central Regional Library Council with funding from the Institue for Museum and Library Services.