Interlibrary loan

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The interlibrary loan is a service of libraries , not to get on locally available books or copies of articles from other libraries within the inter-library loan.


The first interlibrary loan forerunners existed as early as 1836 between the University Library of Giessen and the court library of the Grand Duchy of Hessen-Darmstadt . In 1893 Prussia issued the first lending regulations. It was only at the instigation of Fritz Milkau that interlibrary loan was regulated for the first time in Germany in 1924.

Today, 1581 libraries in Germany take part in supraregional lending (as of December 2016). Usually this service is chargeable. Some libraries offer this service to their users free of charge and bear the costs themselves, but many charge a flat fee per order, which, depending on the library, is between € 1.50 and € 6. The libraries differ

  • giving interlibrary loan (active interlibrary loan, AFL), whereby books are lent out from one's own library to other libraries, which in turn lend them to their own users, and
  • Interlibrary loan (passive interlibrary loan, PFL), whereby books are borrowed from third-party libraries for their own users.


IFLA International Order Form (date unknown)

The more detailed conditions for interlibrary loan are specified in various national and international regulations. For interlibrary loans within Germany , this is the Interlibrary Loan Regulations (LVO) of the Conference of Ministers of Education , for which in Austria the Austrian Interlibrary Loan Regulations ( ÖFLO) or the "Recommendation for the Processing of Interlibrary Loans and Document Delivery in Austria" of the Association of Austrian Librarians . The procedural guidelines of the international umbrella association IFLA are available for worldwide interlibrary loan . The regulations mentioned do not have the character of a law or regulation, but are recommendations that may be put into effect locally by administrative regulation.

It can e.g. B. not everything can be ordered via interlibrary loan; In the German interlibrary loan system, it is not possible to order novels, books that convey purely practical skills (handicraft instructions, cookbooks, etc.), travel guides, etc. The background to this is that the loan system is primarily used for academic training and further education and should therefore not be burdened by ordering literature that is normally available in the local public library.

Furthermore, the following are often excluded from interlibrary loan: Loose-leaf collections (it is very difficult to check afterwards whether the copy is still complete after the loan), AV materials such as language courses , DVDs, audio books , CDs, as well as old or very valuable books (risk of loss) or books of large format (e.g. large atlases or illustrated books: shipping problem). Usually also entire volumes of journal years, in which case only a copy of an article is possible.

To give up an interlibrary loan, the interested party must contact a library (e.g. public library or university library ) in their area. This library usually does the necessary research, forwards the order and makes the material available to the user upon receipt. In some associations, however, the interested party can initiate an online interlibrary loan via the union catalog after setting up an interlibrary loan account in their home library. However, the exact conditions of use (loan periods, loan outside the home or only in the library) are usually determined by the library to which the ordered material belongs.

The time it takes to fulfill an order varies widely and depends on several factors:

  • the number of owning libraries (these are usually automatically queried one after the other)
  • borrowing from the requested libraries
  • the workload at the giving libraries (large libraries receive dozens of orders for their media every day)

On average, media that have been ordered are available to users of a medium-sized public library after around 1.5 to 2 weeks.

Document delivery services (e.g. Subito ) offer a faster but more cost-intensive alternative to traditional interlibrary loan . These deliver directly to the end user, usually within a few days, sometimes even within 24 hours. However, this service is significantly more expensive than the classic interlibrary loan order (shipping an article costs at least 6.50 euros).

During the Covid 19 pandemic , interlibrary loan copies were exceptionally delivered in electronic form in Germany until May 31, 2020. The State and University Library Hamburg declared on May 29, 2020, that the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs said there was no need for this service "despite urgent requests from the libraries". Therefore, we need this convenient, contemporary form of delivery for our digital semester end with great regret and return to the 20th century, "lamented the library.

See also


  • Klaus Gantert and Rupert Hacker : Basic library knowledge , 8th, completely revised and expanded edition. Saur, Munich 2008, pp. 269-276.
  • Petra Hauke: Leihverkehr , in: Konrad Umlauf and Stefan Gradmann (eds.): Lexicon of Library and Information Science , Vol. 2, Hiersemann, Stuttgart 2014, p. 539.
  • Uwe Böhme and Silke Tesch: The sometimes difficult way to full text , Nachr. Chem. 62 (2014) 1058-1060,

Web links

Wiktionary: Interlibrary loan  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Berndt Dugall: From interlibrary loan to document delivery : structures and strategies . In: ABI technology . tape 17 , no. January 2 , 1997, ISSN  2191-4664 , pp. 130 , doi : 10.1515 / ABITECH.1997.17.2.129 ( [accessed on April 8, 2020]).
  2. Berndt Dugall: Interlibrary loan, document delivery and access to digital documents . In: ABI technology . tape 26 , no. 3 , January 1, 2006, ISSN  2191-4664 , p. 162 , doi : 10.1515 / ABITECH.2006.26.3.162 ( [accessed on April 8, 2020]).
  3. Kultusministerkonferenz (Ed.): The order of the interlibrary loan in the Federal Republic of Germany. Loan traffic regulations (LVO) . October 10, 2008 ( [PDF]).
  4. ^ Austrian interlibrary loan regulations (ÖFLO) 1996. Association of Austrian Librarians , 1996, accessed on April 8, 2020 .
  5. Recommendation for processing interlibrary loan and document delivery in Austria. Association of Austrian Librarians , accessed on April 8, 2020 .
  6. IFLA (Ed.): International Interlending and Document Delivery: Principles and Procedural Guidelines . 2009 ( [PDF]).