Interlibrary Loan & Cooperative Borrowing

SCATLA Interlibrary Loan Policy

This policy statement defines the privileges and responsibilities of those who participate in the voluntary, cooperative interlibrary loan program of SCATLA (Southern California Theological Library Association). This lending policy seeks to provide improved access to the aggregate collections of member libraries, timely and efficient delivery of needed materials, and strives to eliminate common barriers to information such as transaction costs.

  1. Interlibrary loan requests are communicated to member libraries with standardized forms and procedures, either through OCLC's interlibrary loan subsystem, or ALA forms.
  2. Member libraries will endeavor to supply interlibrary loan requests to SCATLA institutions as effectively and efficiently as possible, without charges being assessed or payment expected.
  3. The lending library shall inform the borrowing library of copying costs in excess of $5.00 for any one request. Then, with agreement, at the time the material is transmitted, simple billing notation can be affixed and the borrowing institution, without further prompting, should remit total copying charges.
  4. In the case of urgent requests, the lending library may exercise discretion in how the request should be handled. For example, if the urgent request is communicated by telephone, the lending library may suggest that the patron pick up the ILL request at the lending institution, or that the patron borrow this item through the SCATLA borrowing agreement, or that a paper trail be established through OCLC or ALA conventions.
  5. Participating institutions should keep careful but minimal statistics that measure interlibrary loan activity among SCATLA institutions.
  6. The Association shall address equity issues, in the event that one or more lending libraries become heavily and or unfairly strained. In such an event, plans for remuneration should be made, before future imbalances cause a breakdown in this agreement.

The Association may review or modify this agreement as needed.

SCATLA Cooperative Borrowing Policy


The following proposals for cooperation among the SCATLA membership are designed to:

  • foster a climate of openness and sharing of our respective library resources and services with the students and faculty of our member institutions;
  • to do so responsibly, first of all, in deference to the prime claim of our own respective constituencies,
  • with a minimum of bureaucratic paperwork, record-keeping, and labor intensive procedures;
  • and, consequently, avoiding as much as possible the necessity of fiscal agreements, accounting procedures, and/or the exchange of money between our cooperative institutions.

As there are varied ways and different degrees in which cooperation may be possible, so it is recognized that some institutions may find it possible to participate in one or two ways and not in others. (Obviously, the entire SCATLA community must keep currently informed as to the specific points of cooperation which are possible, or are not possible, with specific institutions).

In the spirit of openness and enthusiasm, it is to be hoped that all SCATLA institutions will willingly enter into as many of these cooperative modules as their staff and resources will allow.

Surely, a specific trial period of not less than one full academic year should be undertaken, as all-inclusively as possible, after which, at or near the end of such a trial period, there can be rigorous evaluation, adjustment, and/or renewed commitment.

Examples of possible cooperative projects among SCATLA libraries may include, but are not limited to:

  • Direct borrowing by individuals
  • Interlibrary loans
  • Document delivery via FAX, courier, etc.
  • Acquisition agreements
  • Development of union lists
  • Computer networking
  • Staff training and exchange
  • Other ways

Cooperative Borrowing Program Overview

This policy statement defines the privileges and responsibilities of those who participate in the voluntary, cooperative borrowing program of SCATLA (Southern California Theological Library Association). This lending policy seeks to provide improved access to the aggregate collections of member libraries, while at the same time preserving the integrity of these collections, and recognizing the priorities that must be accorded to the primary constituencies served by each library.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of this program is that it is not a full-scale provision of mutual borrowing privileges. Instead, this is a referral service that permits, on a case by case basis, screened clients at one library to use the collections at another library during the course of a defined research project.

This program must not be interpreted as a library service program which will relieve a member library of the responsibility of functioning as the primary library for their own students and faculty, and must not be interpreted as a written contract designed to satisfy the requirements of accrediting associations.

The Association acknowledges the existence and importance of other mutual borrowing relationships and contracts that pre-date this program, or function independently. Indeed, some SCATLA members have pre-existing borrowing agreements with other members of the Association. SCATLA members are encouraged to explore a variety of cooperative programs and options to supplement and extend their local resources.

There are four essential parties to this agreement. Home libraries screen borrowers, refer them to appropriate libraries, and assume ultimate responsibility for delinquency. Host libraries receive referred clients and offer them, at their discretion, a level of service consistent with their resources and constraints. SCATLA borrowers are guests at host libraries, abiding by the policies and instructions of their hosts. SCATLA, as an association, oversees this broad policy statement, and evaluates the use and effectiveness of this program.

The use of libraries is a privilege, not a right or entitlement: a privilege can be granted, denied, modified, or restricted at the discretion of any host library.

Participating Institutions

Participation in this cooperative borrowing network is limited to institutions that are Full Members in SCATLA. Though participation is voluntary, Full Members are strongly encouraged to take part i n this program which improves access to religious resources in Southern California.

Eligible Borrowers

The SCATLA borrowing card is ordinarily issued to faculty and students at the graduate level. In cases where an institution has multiple schools or graduate programs, the borrowers are ordinarily limited to those in the institution's religion or theology programs. The home library is responsible for verifying that its student is currently enrolled and in good standing.

The SCATLA Borrowing Card

The key element of this cooperative module is a standardized card, designed by SCATLA. This card functions as a letter of reference or introduction, and implies that the bearer of the card has been verified and authorized by the home (or sending) institution and has exhausted the resources of the home institution, and is therefore being formally referred to the host (or receiving) institution for additional resources.

Basic principles in the use of the SCATLA card:

  • The home library issues the SCATLA card; the host library does not issue these cards to its visitors.
  • A separate SCATLA card is required for each library a borrower wishes to use; a single card cannot be used by multiple borrowers, or for multiple institutions.
  • The host library determines access privileges and circulation privileges.
  • Depending upon the institution, the SCATLA card is not necessarily the library card; a local library card may be issued by the host library.
  • The home library is responsible for renewing the SCATLA card.
  • New SCATLA cards are sent to member libraries upon request.

Recommended Protocols

  • Applicant screening. The librarians of home libraries will screen each of their applicants, verifying their current status and good standing with their institution.

  • Applicant interviews. The home library will also interview each of their applicants, to review their research needs, their use of their own library collections for their current project, and make a determination as to the usefulness and appropriateness of a referral to another library.

  • Additional documentation. As local practices vary, visitors should be prepared and documented for each visit to host institutions. In addition to the SCATLA card, students should be prepared to display photo ID and student identification upon request.

  • Appropriate visiting hours. Any visit to a host library involving business transactions (e.g., the initial application for ibrary privileges, the resolution of any problems or disputes, requests for substantial research assistance, etc.) should occur during daytime office hours on weekdays. Special circumstances may require the presence of additional staff, or telephone calls to the home institution in order to resolve any questions that may arise. Host libraries should not be expected to provide evening or weekend assistance to SCATLA visitors beyond the level of routine transactions.

  • Avoid blind referrals. The home library should avoid the practice of blind referrals (i.e., sending students to library "X" because it is bigger or conveniently located). The home library should have gathered evidence that the host is prepared to meet the special need of the client being referred.

  • Anticipate and negotiate exceptions. Home libraries should make every effort to negotiate special needs or exceptions with the host library well in advance of an anticipated visit. The host library should not be expected to grant exceptions or to "give the benefit of the doubt" to visitors whose credentials or needs fall outside the norm.

Responsibilities of the Home Library

The home library is responsible for:

  • Meeting the primary bibliographic and research needs of its students and faculty; the host library may supplement the resources of the home library during the course of a specific research project, but must not be utilized or viewed as the primary library by the home institution or its students.
  • Verifying the eligibility and good standing of each of its applicants
  • Interviewing each applicant to verify that he or she has exhausted the holdings of the home library before referrals to other libraries are approved
  • Avoiding blind referrals; the home library should make every effort to match the research needs of its client with the appropriate resources of a member library.
  • Signing
  • and filling out each SCATLA card completely
  • Maintaining careful records and statistics of each referral, and the libraries to which clients were referred.
  • Compensating the host library, when other efforts have failed, for any unpaid fines or replacement costs incurred by its clients

Responsibilities of the Host Library

The host library is responsible for:
  • Providing SCATLA with current information, and timely updates, which describe its library hours, location, collection profile, contact information, driving directions, URLs, and a summary of its access and circulation policies. At the very minimum, this information should be summarized on the SCATLA Web site, and published in detail on the host library's Web site.
  • Advising SCATLA visitors of any in-house policies or requirements (e.g., demand additional information from the applicant, stipulate a different expiration date in accordance with its calendar, or indicate additional rrowing restrictions)
  • Maintaining an accurate database with appropriate formation on each SCATLA borrower..
  • Issuing a unique borrowing card to qualified SCATLA visitors, or affixing a barcode to the SCATLA card.
  • Levying any fines or fines for overdue and lost books
  • Informing the home library of any substantial or significant delinquency, and, as a last resort, billing the home institution for unpaid charges that are ninety days old.
  • Maintaining statistics that will help evaluate the use of its collections by SCATLA members (e.g., the number of SCATLA cards honored, which home institutions sent clients to this library, the number of items loaned to SCATLA patrons, etc).

Responsibilities of Each SCATLA Borrower

Borrowers are responsible for:

  • Presenting a valid library card in order to borrow materials.
  • Keeping track of every item borrowed.
  • Knowing the due date of all borrowed materials.
  • Returning or renew materials on or before the due date; the borrower is responsible for the safe return of all borrowed material until the time of checkin.
  • Returning recalled items immediately.
  • Exercising care in handling library materials, returning books to the library without evidence of defacement, mutilation, degradation, or water damage.
  • Maintaining custody of library materials until their return on due date, not lending these books to others.
  • Avoiding letting others borrow books with their library cards.
  • Notifying the Library immediately of address changes, so that notices may be sent to the correct address.
  • Notifying the Library immediately regarding stolen or lost library cards.
  • Responding to library notices, and paying replacement costs for items not returned in a timely fashion.
  • Returning books to the library before moving from the area.

Access Privileges

Access policies and procedures are defined by the host institution, and may differ substantially from those in effect at the home library. It is the responsibility of the SCATLA visitor to ascertain and abide by these policies. Access policies include: operating hours of the host library, operating hours of specific departments and collections and services, policies on the use of facilities and collections and equipment, and policies on the use of study carrels, study areas, etc.

Borrowing Privileges

Borrowing privileges and regulations are defined by the host institution, and may differ substantially from those in effect at the home library. It is the responsibility of the SCATLA visitor to ascertain and abide by these policies.

Services Not Included in this Borrowing Code

SCATLA cardholders will ordinarily not have access to these privileges at host institutions:

  • Databases and other electronic resources that are governed by site licenses or contracts.
  • Interlibrary loan and document delivery services
  • Computer labs and other general campus computing resources and any services requiring student accounts and passwords.
  • Documents, resources, and services available on private Intranets and portals.
  • Extensive research and reference assistance.
  • Required readings and course reserves, whether in print or electronic formats.
  • Private study carrels, guaranteed study space, etc.

Local Practice and Discretion in Borrowing Privileges

Though the above provisions are shared and agreed upon by each participating library, each Full Member of SCATLA is free to determine its ability to participate in this program, as well as the nature and extent of privileges it may offer to the membership. Home institutions, and their potential borrowers, should be aware that there may be significant variation in local practice, and host libraries should make every effort to communicate these exceptions to the membership.

SCATLA institutions may exercise discretion in several areas of access and circulation privileges, including:

  • The decision to participate in the SCATLA Borrowing Code. Full SCATLA members are encouraged, but not required, to participate in this cooperative borrowing program. The decision not to participate may be temporary (due to building renovations, staff shortages, natural disasters, scarce resources, fiscal stress, etc.), or ongoing. Institutions that are reluctant to participate may wish to explore alternate methods of sharing resources, or an independent agreement with another institution, or a limited trial program with another library, in order to measure the impact and implications of such agreements. The Association should maintain and publish a list of current participants.

  • Information and documentation. The host library is free to require as much information from each borrower as it deems necessary for maintaining an accurate and effective borrower database.

  • Card expirations. The host library has discretion in setting or altering the expiration date on SCATLA cards, in order to conform to its own calendar or other internal needs.

  • Library cards. The host library may issue its own cards to SCATLA borrowers.

  • Restrictions to borrowing privileges. The host library has discretion in setting limits on the use of its collection by SCATLA borrowers. Such restrictions might include, but are not limited to:

    • Limiting the number of SCATLA institutions it will serve
    • Limiting the number of SCATLA borrowers served from a single institution
    • Putting a cap on the total number of SCATLA borrowers served
    • Limiting the number of books that can be checked out
    • Limiting the loan periods
    • Limiting the number of renewals permitted, or denying the privilege of renewal, to SCATLA borrowers
    • Limiting the privilege of holds or recalls, or denying these privileges to SCATLA borrowers.
    • Limiting or denying access to special collections (Rare Books, Reserve Collections, journals, electronic resources, etc.)
    • Limiting or blocking privileges of specific SCATLA borrowers who are delinquent
    • Limiting or blocking privileges of a specific SCATLA institution until outstanding delinquencies or charges are resolved
    • Limiting the category and number of academic programs served at a given institution. 
  • Setting fees and fines. The host library has the freedom to determine the amount of fees and fines it may charge to SCATLA borrowers. Such fees may include processing charges for special library cards, overdue fines, special fines for recalled books returned late, replacement fees for books lost or not returned, or fees for institutions that have developed a one-sided dependence upon the host library.

  • Other restrictions. The host library may set other restrictions on the resources made available to SCATLA users, including the amount of time and assistance offered by reference staff, as well as the amount of time allotted on public computers and equipment and seating space.

The Association may review and modify this agreement as needed.