How to Get Any Book Into Your Lap…Free!

Have you ever been in the situation of wanting to look up one item in a book, but the book is either expensive or obscure. Chances are you turn to your local library. Many people know about Interlibrary Loan (ILL) within their own library system, but what happens if your library system doesn’t carry a specific book?

In my last post I described how to get ahold of serious research in professional journals by accessing your library’s computer database. Today I want to describe how to get any book, from places all over the world, and have it delivered directly to your library branch?

The first time you do this it may seem tedious, but once you know how, it’s a breeze. I typically order about a dozen books a month this way. Your library system may vary, but here’s how my library does it:

  1. Bring up my library web site: Jefferson County Library
  2. Click on maroon-colored icon called “Research tools”
  3. This brings up:  “Subscription Databases A – Z” Click on this.
  4. In the Databases A to Z, click on “W” and choose “World Cat” or scroll down to “World Cat” Click link.
  5. Search for book. It is best to put several items in the search boxes. For instance, the book title and the author. Here I selected the title Seeking Peace and the author Mary Pipher. (I write about self-care and wanted to see how a bestselling author and psychotherapist burned out and subsequently learned to simplify her life.)
  6. When the world catalog finds your book, either print out the page, move it over to a dual monitor, or jot down the most important items: Publisher, year, and the OCLC number. (For Mary Pipher’s book the OCLC number is at the bottom of the page and is 233547957)
  7. Now go back to your library’s main screen. Choose the blue icon on the left side, “Find Library Books and More” – You will find a link called “Interlibrary Loan Request.” Double click. At the bottom of this page is a link called “ILL form for Books/AV Materials.” Click on that.
  8. Fill out the author, title of book, publisher/place/date, format (book, video, DVD), pick-up location (for me that is “Columbine Library”) and OCLC number.

*I don’t fill out the part about paying money for the request or the “cancel if not filled by date” information.

At the bottom of the page, I type my name and library card number.


Almost any title from across the miles will be delivered right to my library. It takes about a week. If you find this confusing, go into your library and ask how you can use the World Catalog and Interlibrary Loan. Chances are your librarian has a bookmark with instructions already printed on them.

I’m curious, did you know you could do this?  What research tips do you have to offer writers? 

12 Replies to “How to Get Any Book Into Your Lap…Free!”

  1. Aw, thanks Sue. I had doubts…what if everyone already knows this?

    My two posts have been “how-to’s” – I think my next one will be more reflective.

    I will be in training all day today and tomorrow, but I will try to check in on and off to respond.

  2. Awesome tip, Lucille. I tried it with my small local library and it works like a charm. No more being forced to buy a book I might not like before I get a chance to read it, plus the huge database I can access for any type of research.

    1. Oh, great! Glad it worked for you as well. The first few times it can seem cumbersome to remember all the steps, but it really is very simple.

  3. Wow, you’re the library expert! I must admit it’s a resource I haven’t used in years – literally. Hmmm…time to change that, me thinks. Thanks for this great information!

  4. No … I absolutely did not know this. You, my dear Water Cooler mate, are just a wealth of “I wish I’d known that” information. (And now I do!)

  5. Thanks very much for the great promotion of our interlibrary loan Service. It’s an incredibly valuable service and JCPL generally ranks number one among Colorado libraries for the number of items loaned and borrowed in a given year! One thing to note: While we can usually get books from other Colorado libraries within a week, it can take four to six weeks for other interlibrary loan titles. Don’t want to create unrealistic expectations….


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: