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321 Wisconsin Ave.
Waukesha, WI   53186

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Monday - Thursday
9 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Summer Saturdays
9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

1 p.m. - 4 p.m.

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Interlibrary Loans FAQ

You want to borrow an item that isn't owned by any of the Waukesha County CAFE Libraries. What can you do? Try interlibrary loan!

Q: What is interlibrary loan?

A: Quite simply, interlibrary loan is a method of borrowing items that we don't own from another library. Libraries that participate include school libraries, public libraries, academic libraries, and historical societies. Interlibrary loan items can come from libraries in the county, the state, or across the United States. There is, however, no requirement that libraries participate. It is the decision of the owning library whether or not they will lend their materials.

Please note: if you want to borrow an item that is not owned by Waukesha Public Library, but it is owned by another CAFE library in our shared catalog, you may simply place a hold on the item. It will then be delivered here for you. This is not considered to be an interlibrary loan.

Q: Who is eligible?

A: Anyone with a Waukesha Public Library card in good standing is a candidate for interlibrary loan. Requests are accepted at the reference desk, both in person and on the telephone, and through our Ask a Librarian email service. There is a limit of five interlibrary loan requests in process at one time. Interlibrary loan requests should be made at your most convenient library. An item that is borrowed for you by Waukesha Public Library must be picked up and returned at Waukesha Public Library.

Q: What can be requested?

A: It is possible to borrow many different types of items through interlibrary loan; however, some are more likely to be loaned than others.

  • Audiocassettes may be requested.

  • Books may be requested, but recently published items may not be immediately available.

  • CDs may be requested, but due to their popularity, the waiting period may be lengthy.

  • Dissertations are very difficult to obtain.

  • DVDs may be requested, but due to their popularity, the waiting period may be lengthy.

  • Genealogical Materials generally do not circulate. It may be possible to get a photocopy of a particular page or chapter, so please be as specific as possible when you make your request.

  • Newspaper articles and microfilm from previous years may be requested. Out-of-state newspapers are not always available for loan.

  • Periodicals can be requested from local public libraries in Waukesha County. Photocopies of articles can often be obtained from libraries outside of the county, but you must provide specific issue and page number information.

  • Videocassettes may be requested.

Q: Does any library own the item that I want?

A: The Wisconsin State Catalog (WISCAT) contains the holdings of most of the libraries in Wisconsin. WISCAT can be searched from any computer with Internet access at www.wiscat.net. If you have any questions, or would like assistance with your search, our reference staff will be happy to assist you.

Q: Is there a cost?

A: There are overhead costs associated with interlibrary loan, but these are absorbed by the library. By law, public libraries cannot pass interlibrary loan fees along to customers; therefore, we cannot borrow items from libraries that charge a fee.

Q: How long does it take?

A: The length of time it takes to receive an interlibrary loan can vary greatly depending on the location and popularity of the item. In general, when an item is on the shelf at a library in Waukesha County, it should be available within a week. If the item is located outside of Waukesha County, it might take several weeks. For items that are very popular, your request may be added to a waiting list. In this case, the item may not arrive for many weeks, or even several months.

Q: Will I be notified when my item arrives?

A: Yes, you will receive a telephone call when your requested item arrives.

Q: Where do I pick up my item?

A: You will pick up your item at the Special Services Desk near the library's entrance.

Q: How long can I keep my interlibrary loan item?

A: The lending library determines when the item will be due, and the borrowing library is obliged to honor the lending library’s due date. A typical loan period averages two to three weeks, but they may be a little longer or a little shorter. Photocopied items are generally yours to keep.

Q: Can I renew an item?

A: Renewals are not possible on interlibrary loan items. Please plan to use the item within the borrowing limit imposed by the lending library. If you find that this doesn't work, and you need the item longer than you expected, you must return the item and re-request it later.

Q: What if I'm late returning an item?

A: There is a $1.00 per day late fee charged on overdue items, but please try to return your items on time. Interlibrary loan is a courtesy between libraries, which is made possible by every user's cooperation.

Q: Can I return my item to another library?

A: No. It must be returned directly to the library that borrowed it for you.

Q: Can I contact the owning library to try and expedite my request or ask for an extension?

A: No. Interlibrary loan is a transaction between libraries. It is not appropriate for you to contact the lending library directly, and doing so may slow down the processing of your request. Our staff will be happy to assist you with any interlibrary loan questions you may have.


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