Interlibrary loan and serving graduate students
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When undergraduate students become graduate students, their library needs change. In order to meet these different needs, some academic libraries stratify their resources, services, and programming to provide for various user groups. For many graduate students, interlibrary loan (ILL) serves as an essential service for completing graduate work and for researching their theses and dissertations, but, fundamentally, the service functions largely the same for every user regardless of status. Libraries implement policies and procedures, and even customize their ILL management systems to tailor the service for different user groups. Depending on a library’s service philosophy or its financial resources, ILL service at one institution can be quite different from another institution. Libraries must also consider graduate students’ previous experiences (or lack thereof) with ILL. As undergraduates, they may have had little reason or opportunity to use ILL and may not be familiar with the service. Graduate students returning to school after a long break, perhaps even after establishing a career or family, may think of ILL as a last-resort option for obtaining research materials. Other students, fully enmeshed in the age of instant gratification, may view (sometimes accurately) that ILL service is too slow. Despite blatant copyright and terms of service violations, crowdsourcing through social media is a serious competitor for ILL, and libraries cannot deny its appeal to students. International students may have other hesitancies to using ILL because it may have functioned differently in their home countries. For these reasons, talking strategically to graduate students about ILL services can serve as a bridge to other important conversations. This chapter offers strategies for starting these conversations.