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Interlibrary Loan UX Study

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Research Question

  • What are users' experiences and expectations of interlibrary loan (ILL)* services?
    • *For the purpose of this study, ILL is used as a broad term to refer to any of the processes and systems involved in allowing a user to borrow from another library, including RACER, TUG, Automated Fulfilment Network (AFN), Omni, and Resource Sharing.


  • We interviewed 10 users: 4 undergraduates, 3 graduate students, 1 University staff member who is enrolled in a graduate program, and 2 library staff members, one of whom is also enrolled in a graduate program. These users were selected because their patron record showed they had borrowed multiple items from the AFN over the past several months.

Findings & Recommendations

  • The most important finding from this study is that users expect to have their borrowing requests filled by library staff. We strongly recommend that instead of delegating failed requests to users to re-request through RACER, library staff should assume the work of filling these requests. 
  • There are other aspects of interlibrary loan that are minor inconveniences to users, such as the different loan periods, policies, and pickup location for RACER books. However, we don’t think changes to these aspects of ILL will make much of an impact, and we are not recommending changes at this time. The focus of our recommendations is getting users the items they have requested and minimizing failed user requests. We know that this is doable, as other Omni partner libraries are successfully and seamlessly fulfilling failed user requests. 

Year of Study


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