Category Archives: Interlibrary Loans

PDFs for ILLs

In the past, you wrote about allowing InterLibrary Loan (ILL) documents to be delivered electronically.

As of today, Colombo will allow for electronic delivery of most articles and parts of works, requested through Interlibrary Loans, via email. This change comes thanks to an upgrade in the Colombo system and changes to the Canadian Copyright Act.

Some things to know about the new service:

  • ILL users will receive an email that their article is ready for viewing. The email will contain an access link/URL which will lead to a webpage with a copyright statement. The statement will ask to confirm that the requester has understood the legal uses of the material requested before proceeding to it.
  • The article, or part of a work, will be available for downloading and printing via the access link/URL for 5 working days following viewing the document for the first time.
  • The Interlibrary Loans FAQ and How to Use COLOMBO webpages now contain information about this service. Please note that both of these webpages have been updated recently, and the “How to Use COLOMBO” page now contains more detailed information on how to place, monitor and pickup a request.

Andréa Harland, Head of InterLibrary Loans

Course reserve titles no longer available via ILL

You wrote:

The Colombo Interlibrary new policy will extremely affect our studies, I study most of the time, and when i  have to search, reserve and return books for every 3 hours, that is insane. This new policy is very bad.

Thank you for your message.   Just to clarify for everyone else, as of September 3, InterLibrary Loans (ILL) no longer accepts requests for material that can be found in the Course Reserves Collection. In the past, some students requested their textbooks via Interlibrary Loans.  Some students even made multiple requests so that they could have a free textbook for the semester.  

The Libraries now have the CSU-supported textbook collection in Reserves.  We feel that this collection  meets the need for ready access to most students’ materials.  The primary goal of ILL is to obtain research material Concordia Libraries does not own.

ILL will be monitoring these types of requests and we are planning to set up a system so that multiple requests for a specific textbook might be satisfied by the purchase of an additional copy for Reserves. You may fill out the  Suggest a Purchase form to recommend  additional copies of a textbook for your course.

P.S.  With a CREPUQ card, you may also borrow a textbook in person from another university library.

Electronic InterLibrary Loans

You wrote:


I would like to suggest (not for the first time) that Concordia  begin to adopt a more forward-thinking approach with regards to document  delivery. For the
library to print out paper copies of articles requested  as interlibrary loans is a waste of paper and of the library user’s time.   Many of us work off campus, and should not have to physically go to the library in order to pick up an article.

When I inquired of a librarian today why ILLs are only available for physical pickup as paper copies, I was told that this was a necessity due to copyright law.  At this time, as you must be aware, most journal articles are accessed through the internet in pdf form. To download such an article is not a breach of copyright. There is no reason that an ILL should be treated any differently. …..

In addition, my own personal library (and this would appear to be common among my colleagues) of articles is kept in pdf form – so any article that I am
forced to pick up as paper, I must then scan in order to keep with other files of the same type – thus frustrating Concordia’s effort to maintain a paper-only system.  Concordia library cannot control the medium of these articles after pickup. This policy only forces users to work more slowly; it has no effect on the wider accessibility of the articles. If we wanted to share them (which frankly we don’t), we certainly have the technology to do so.

Moving to pdfs for ILLs would seem to be an inevitability – when can we expect this change at Concordia?

Andréa Harland, Head, Interlibrary Loans & Media Services, Webster Library replied:

Thank you for your email. Your sentiments are shared by many if not by most of Concordia Libraries Interlibrary Loans (ILL) users and library staff. We are currently looking into employing a system that would provide articles electronically via ILL, and hopefully it might be possible to have it in place by the beginning of the coming year.

Copyright is unfortunately not an easy topic to navigate. Mixed in with it are questions about database licensing (many of the articles you get online are only available to you because Concordia Libraries pays for a subscription to a database; some databases have licenses that put restrictions on how their digital contents can be disseminated). Here in Quebec we have been tentative about testing the law, but I am very aware this is not the case elsewhere. Quebec university libraries are part of the CREPUQ consortia (  and we share the system that makes ILL possible, i.e. Colombo. Just recently has a method for providing articles electronically via Colombo been available to us. In the province of Quebec only one university now provides article requests via ILL electronically (Université de Sherbrooke), and only as of this summer. With the new Copyright Act providing more favourable provisions for providing ILL electronically I think that many in Quebec will soon follow.

Your letter and others I have received show the need for this change and it is in part due to your input that we are considering moving forward with providing articles electronically via ILL. But as it is a matter that has legal ramifications we want to make sure we get it right the first time.

Thank you again for your feedback.


InterLibrary Loans notices not in MyCLUES

You wrote: 

Hi –

It’s been brought to my attention (in a rather expensive way) that Inter-Library Loan items do not appear in the MyClues list of items I have checked out. I log into MyClues frequently every day so it was a bit of a shock to get an email from InterLibrary Loans saying I have an item that is “very overdue.” My fault for forgetting, yes, but it could have been avoided by including InterLibrary Loans items in MyClues alongside my other checked out items. That seems entirely sensible, does it not?


Thank you for your email.  Our InterLibrary Loans (ILL) system, Colombo, does not run on CLUES.  It runs on another system that is shared with our sister institutions across  Quebec. Because of the nature of the InterLibrary Loans service, it makes sense that we should be able to communicate seamlessly with other libraries.  However, this means that Colombo is not connected to CLUES.  InterLibrary Loans staff email users with overdue ILL items.  They keep track of unreturned items and re-send overdue notices, as needed.  Although users are blocked from InterLibrary Loans as well as from borrowing from our collection until the item is returned, there are no overdue fines for InterLibrary Loans items.

COLOMBO in Colour

You wrote:

I order lots of papers from COLOMBO and have problems receiving the papers without any colours.  The colourful details of pictures are very important for engineering works. Please consider to have colour prints.

Joanna Duy,  Head, Interlibrary Loans and Media Services, replied:

Thanks very much for your question regarding the library’s COLOMBO Interlibrary Loan service. We can’t guarantee that we’ll always be able to get an article in colour, and it may take longer for us to receive it as it may be sent through the mail, but for articles that you would like in colour, please indicate that in the COLOMBO Interlibrary Loans form when you are filling it out, under Special Instructions (put something like “need colour version”). We will do our best to get it for you.

Just a reminder too that COLOMBO will be unavailable, due to a system upgrade, from Friday May 21 until Tuesday May 25.  If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to write again. Have a great day!

Interlibrary Loans (COLOMBO)

You wrote:

Just wanted to let you know how very much I appreciate the ILL service. I have used it alot in the past few years as I am working on my PhD. Most of the time the books come very quickly. The staff have been very helpful when there is the occasional glitch. I also teach part time and am so pleased that undergrads can make use of this service for free. THANK YOU!!

Thanks for letting us know that you appreciate our Interlibrary Loans service. We’re very glad it has been so helpful for you as you work towards your PhD! Thanks for your comments.