Reinforcing each other: strategies to advance international interlibrary loan

Hilary H. Thompson*, Kurt Munson, James B. Harper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to share the results of the 2019 international interlending survey conducted by the American Library Association, Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), Sharing and Transforming Access to Resources Section (STARS) International Interlibrary Loan (ILL) Committee, the fourth such survey conducted by this group since 2007. Design/methodology/approach: Committee members developed the survey instrument and collected data in Qualtrics. Questions from the 2015 and 2011 instruments were reused to support longitudinal data analysis, and new questions related to improving the sharing of resources across borders were added. The survey was distributed to libraries worldwide via multiple methods, and translations in six of the seven official International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions languages were provided. Findings: Results reveal challenges to engaging in global resource sharing in the areas of discovery and request methods, policies and service models, copyright and licensing, delivery and payment. Strategies to overcome these challenges, as informed by both the survey results and recent literature, are shared. Reinforcing each other, these independently and organically developed solutions illustrate ways to further advance ILL. Practical implications: The findings can aid ILL practitioners and the organizations to which they belong in improving the sharing of resources across borders. By optimizing this service, libraries can better support researchers in a globalized environment. Originality/value: The 2019 RUSA STARS survey is the first survey on the topic of international ILL to offer multiple translations complimenting global distribution. It contributes to the literature by offering a broad and updated perspective on current international ILL practices, challenges impeding the sharing of library materials abroad and possible solutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-44
Number of pages9
JournalInformation Discovery and Delivery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 18 2021


  • Interlending
  • International interlibrary loan
  • Libraries
  • Resource sharing
  • Surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Library and Information Sciences


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