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The interlibrary loan

In Ontario, both the University of Toronto and Western University libraries are open to the public. Both these facilities also offer the opportunity to borrow print material for a prescribed period of time, with the purchase of a university library card.

However, not all dentists have the opportunity to visit either library personally. You can still borrow a textbook or acquire a journal article through an interlibrary loan.

Interlibrary loans allow materials like textbooks to be borrowed, or journal articles to be purchased, through contact with a local public library. A list of public libraries in Ontario, maintained by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, is available here.

A valid public library card is needed to access the interlibrary loan system. You can register for this card by visiting your local library.

Once registered, it may not be necessary to visit the library to request resources. Depending on the library, you may have the option of making your request through a local public library’s website, or by phone or e-mail. As a borrower, you will be asked for your library card, name and the branch where you want to pick up the material.

Once a request for a textbook is made, it is possible that the most current edition will be unavailable. Many current edition dental texts, typically accessed from an academic library, are on a course reserve list. This means that they are retained for short-term loan, primarily for required course reading.

They can only be signed out from the academic library by those with an active university library card.

If the current text is unavailable, either an older edition will be offered or a search will be conducted for an alternate library which may be able to provide the desired edition. Although most of the requested texts will originate from an academic library, if a public library happens to have the particular book, and is closer than one of the university libraries, it will be sent from there.

When a journal article is required, it may be offered in either electronic or print format. There will be a fee charged for accessing any of the resources. These charges are collected by the lending library as a method of cost recovery, and are related to the lending and/or copying of the requested material.

It may take up to two to four weeks for the local library to receive the requested information. The length of time that the material will be available on loan may vary, depending on its source. Loan renewals may be possible for those who wish to retain the resources over a longer period of time.

In addition to interlibrary loans, specific journal articles or entire journal issues may often be purchased directly from the publisher at a very reasonable cost. Further information is available on the publisher’s website.

Both the interlibrary loan and direct purchases from a publisher may be viable options for those who live and/or practise in an area where access to an academic library is not possible or convenient.