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How to determine availability and lendability in WISCAT, and why you don't need to!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Instant availability checking is a feature of using WISCAT for interlibrary loan, but the benefit is greatest in how the WISCAT platform uses that information behind the scenes. It sounds odd, but library staff and patrons can often safely ignore availability when placing requests.

This is because when you place a request on a bibliographic record in WISCAT, you aren’t requesting that specific item from that specific lender -- you’re requesting an item that matches the record you’re placing the request on. Once the request is placed, WISCAT is able to figure out automatically which libraries own that title, whether they will lend that title (as indicated in the ILL Lender? column), and whether or not it is available at those libraries (as indicated in the Status column). In the example below, the first record is lendable and available. The second is not lendable and not available, and the third is lendable but not available.

Screenshot of availability/lendability on a WISCAT bibliographic record

Once a request is placed, a lender list is then created automatically, which may or may not include the library whose bibrecord you placed the request on. Due to cataloging differences, WISCAT doesn’t always find every possible lender the first time around. If the request isn’t filled after going through the lender list, it then defaults to your primary default lender, which for most libraries is either staff on DPI’s Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning team, or your library system’s ILL staff. They will then manually add any possible additional lenders to the list and send it along for another try. This workflow has enabled WISCAT to have a fill rate of 90% or higher for the past 5 years, with an all-time high of 94% in 2016 and 2017.

In the upcoming WISCAT Version 6 update slated to roll out in August, libraries will have the option to hide the Status column from their patrons and/or staff. If you tend to focus on availability when placing requests, or if you think that column might be distracting or confusing for your patrons, you might consider hiding the Status column so that availability isn’t visible.

In short, if you find a bibliographic record in WISCAT that represents what your patron is looking for, go ahead and request it -- even if it shows as not available or lendable. WISCAT does the work of finding available titles from participating lenders so you don’t have to!

Written by Gail Murray, Resources for Libraries & Lifelong Learning



Postponed WISCAT and BadgerLink Outage -- New Date August 9-12

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Due to server issues identified by the WISCAT and BadgerLink platform vendor, Auto-Graphics, the migration to Version 6 has been postponed. The migration has been rescheduled for the weekend of August 9-12. WISCAT and BadgerLink are now slated to go offline at 7pm on Friday, August 9th, and be back online at 7am on Monday morning, August 12th.

The WISCAT platform will see significant changes as part of this upgrade to Version 6. Training and documentation are being developed, and will be shared out during the May 14th WISCAT User Group Meeting. Library staff who work with the WISCAT platform should join the WISCAT/ILL listserv to be kept up to date with WISCAT changes and training by sending a blank email to

All library-specific WISCAT URLs and authenticated BadgerLink resource links will be updated with new URLs as part of this migration. Auto-Graphics will provide a redirect of the previous URLs for up to 6 months.

Any library or school that places direct links to BadgerLink resources on a website, within a proxy, or another SSO application such as OpenAthens, will need to edit the URLs no later than early February 2020 in order to continue providing users access outside of the BadgerLink website. The new BadgerLink resource URLs are listed in the BadgerLink Resource URLs spreadsheet.

For reference the current BadgerLink authenticated URL structure is as follows:

The new BadgerLink URL structure will be formatted as:

The current WISCAT library-specific URL structure is as follows, where XXXX = your library’s WISCAT code:

The new WISCAT library-specific URLs will be formatted as:

This upgrade will not affect functionality of any BadgerLink resources, however the WISCAT platform, which is also used for Super Search, will see new features and more modern styling. Additional details on these upgrades will be posted in the coming weeks.

To stay up to date with BadgerLink changes subscribe to the Badger Bulletin, and for additional help, contact BadgerLink or WISCAT staff.

Written by Elizabeth Neuman, Resources for Libraries & Lifelong Learning


For questions about this information, contact Elizabeth Neuman (608) 224-5389

WISCAT and BadgerLink Outage May 31 - June 3 for Migration to Version 6

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The BadgerLink and WISCAT outage originally scheduled for May 31-June 3 has been postponed till August 9-12. Please see the Wisconsin Libraries for Everyone post, Postponed WISCAT and BadgerLink Outage -- New Date August 9-12 for details.

We are very sorry for any inconvenience that this shift will cause. Please reach out if you have any questions!

Written by Elizabeth Neuman, Resources for Libraries & Lifelong Learning


For questions about this information, contact Elizabeth Neuman (608) 224-5389

Tips for borrowing from UW-Madison

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Last week we shared UW-Madison’s new loan policy. Borrowers will now be given a 12-week loan period with no renewals. We thought this was also a good time for reminders on some best practices. These will help to get your requests filled faster and avoid Conditional status.

  • Mills Music Library – books and scores will circulate; CDs & LPs will not
  • Genealogical materials do not circulate; instead of a loan, ask for a scan of the index, TOC or particular names
    • Check the UW catalog to find the microfilm reel numbers needed and include them in the borrower’s notes field.
    • Numbers beginning with “P” are positive and can be loaned right away. Numbers beginning with “N” are negative and can be made positive, but will take 3-4 weeks.
    • Enter title of the newspaper, (city, state) and dates/month(s)/year(s) in the title field
    • A max of 6 reels will be loaned per title per request.
  • Multi-volume sets – a max of 5 volumes will be loaned per request.
  • Very old books – if in acceptable condition, a book less than 100 years old may be loaned.

If you have questions about any of this information please contact us at

Written by:  Christine Barth, Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning


For questions about this information, contact Christine Barth (608) 224-6171

Guest Post: Meet Recollection Wisconsin's New Search!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Guest post written by Emily Pfotenhauer of WiLS

Recollection Wisconsin recently launched a new and improved central search interface for their digital collections. Through this new search, you can find state and local history resources as well as materials from across the country and around the world, all from the collections of dozens of Wisconsin libraries, archives, historical societies and museums.

This new interface was created for Recollection Wisconsin as a benefit of their partnership with the Digital Public Library of America. In fact, Wisconsin is the first DPLA member in the country to launch a “DPLA Local” site. The search portal uses the same code DPLA developed for their own portal, which means Recollection Wisconsin users can benefit from handy features like auto-generated citations and the option to save custom lists.

Screenshot of search results page in DPLA Local interface.

The new search also uncovers resources about Wisconsin from other DPLA contributors around the country. For example, did you know that the New York Public Library has a great collection of stereographs of the Wisconsin Dells, photographed by H. H. Bennett? Or that the National Archives holds thousands of photos of Wisconsin landscapes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture?

The DPLA Local interface replaces the search portal created for Recollection Wisconsin in 2005 by UW-Madison Libraries. Recollection Wisconsin is grateful to UW-Madison for their many years of support to centralize access to Wisconsin’s digital collections and for their continued quarterly metadata harvests to update and refresh the data in the new system.

Screenshot of item record in new interface.

Give the new search a try and let Recollection Wisconsin staff know what you think!

Recollection Wisconsin is a consortium administered by WiLS and managed by seven Governing Partners: WiLS, Wisconsin Historical Society, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Milwaukee Public Library and Marquette University. Primary support for Recollection Wisconsin is provided by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, which administers Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds distributed by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).


Z39.50: What is it, and how does it work?

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Among other features and options, WISCAT offers a way to search the catalogs of many libraries in Wisconsin and beyond. Those catalogs are searchable through WISCAT in one of two ways. The first is through the Union Catalog, a small collection of static bibliographic records that once made up the bulk of holdings searchable through WISCAT. These records and their corresponding holdings must be manually updated by libraries in order to be accurate, and since they are static records, they do not indicate whether or not an item is currently available on a library's shelf. 

The other way that WISCAT is able to search for and present holdings is by using the Z39.50 protocol to make live connections to catalogs. This standard protocol enables WISCAT to remotely search catalogs and pull back bibliographic records as they read in real time, allowing us to see live shelf status, and to use indicators in the bibliographic record to determine whether an item is lendable based on location or collection information in addition to status. These catalog connections are commonly referred to as Z targets, or simply targets, as the catalogs are the targets of the protocol queries. 

OK, but what does that mean for the average WISCAT library on a day-to-day basis? If you've been periodically loading your catalog records into the Union Catalog, you may wish to work with WISCAT staff to set up a Z39.50 connection to your catalog instead. The configuration process can vary based on your library's ILS vendor and your bibliographic record structure, but more often than not the process is quick and straightforward. It requires no updating of your bibliographic records in WISCAT, and the configuration would only need to be updated when details about your ILS change, or when you add new locations, collections, or statuses. 

You may have noticed that WISCAT sometimes takes a while to show all search results. This is due to the system searching many different catalogs via Z39.50. Your search speed is dependent upon how quickly each of the Z39.50 target catalogs respond, so a slow catalog will result in a slow response time from WISCAT. If you're looking to increase the speed of your search results, you can always modify which Z39.50 targets you're searching in a given search by clicking on the stacked canister icon to the left of the search bar in WISCAT and selecting/deselecting the targets or catalogs you'd like to search. To make changes to your default selections, click on your username in the upper right hand corner when logged in to WISCAT, and click on Your Favorite Resources to adjust your selections (shown in screenshot below).

Screenshot of Your Favorite Resources screen in WISCAT

Have questions about WISCAT or want to switch from the Union Catalog to a Z target? Please Contact Us!

Written by Gail Murray, Resources for Libraries & Lifelong Learning


Three cures for the "Humdrum ILL Blues"

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Guest Post Written by: Robyn Clark-Bridges

This post originally appeared on the OCLC Next blog

Word:  motivation

A few years ago, two colleagues and I co-led the popular workshop, “Keep the ILL Motivational Fires Burning!” at the Midwest ILL Conference. The point was to openly acknowledge that—like many jobs—resource sharing librarianship can become routine and draining. We tried to answer the question: how can you do a job with many necessary, detailed, repetitious job functions while still maintaining energy, enthusiasm, and drive?

While everyone’s answer is going to be slightly different, I think we uncovered a few ways that might help you maintain your LOVE for a job that many of us got into in the first place because of a passion for helping library users.

Details drive enthusiasm

To stay passionate, I need to do more than simply post inspirational quotes. I need to find ways to reconnect to my job in satisfying ways. In my case, I found three ways to improve my attitude to keep doing what I needed to do.

  1. Insert joy. I love to learn … ILL regularly brings an eclectic grouping of articles and books across my path that I enjoy skimming. I get a natural high by filling a quirky ILL request whose citation was incorrect. (I fulfilled 100+ such requests last year!) When I fill a request near the end of a lending string, I celebrate by inserting an arrow, a smiley face, and an exclamation mark above our UIW symbol.
  1. Remember the “why.” Being an ILL librarian isn’t just a job, it’s a calling. We do what we do for a reason. Adding reminders of that fact to my work area helps keep me inspired. For example, framing my work space with thank-you notes from other libraries reminds me that my job is appreciated. My ‘warm fuzzy’ e-file (and separate physical folder) house affirming interactions from others, which I review on ‘cold prickly’ days. Even the reflective process of creating a curriculum vitae was an empowering self-affirmation of my life’s journey.
  1. Personalize the process. I am happier with color in my work life, so I intentionally write with a variety of colored pens and use colored scratch paper for ILL book band expanders. I delight in holding a three-year record of sharing more ILL items than any other Iowa private college/university. I am a visual person who smiles every time I glimpse a family picture collage hanging by my work desk. After completing the final ILL request of a work shift, I enjoy an imaginary vision of myself as Rocky reaching the championship round to a roaring, applauding crowd.

Discovering your own three things

A lot of the research I did after our conference workshop centered around understanding personal motivators—that’s how I got to my three ideas shared above. You’ll need to do some of your own reading and searching to find what works for you. The good news is, there’s plenty of material to get you started, and our workshop takeaways are a great place to begin:

  • Find alternatives that free you up to proactively refocus vision and attitude.
  • Make a list of what energizes you and act on it regularly.
  • Change up your motivators to keep them fresh and actively working for you.

Remember: the very nature of ILL is that we are stronger together. Partner with someone else to share your ideas as you nurture your drive.

Written by:  Robyn Clark-Bridges, Evening Supervisor & Interlibrary Loan Associate, Mount Mercy University 


For questions about this information, contact Christine Barth (608) 224-6171

Resources for the visually impaired

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Here at Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning (RL&LL) we recently had several interlibrary loan requests for materials in braille.  If you have patrons who need audiobooks on CD, large print, or other resources because they are visually impaired, interlibrary loan can help.

Additional resources are also available at these libraries:

Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library (WTBBL)

The Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library provides books and magazines in two formats: braille and audio recorded books. The library also lends audio-described DVDs and equipment.

National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS)

These libraries serve the blind, as well as those with impaired vision, physical limitations, and reading disabilities.

Written by:  Christine Barth, Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning


For questions about this information, contact Christine Barth (608) 224-6171

Coming Soon to Your Library System: 2018 WISCAT Statistics

Monday, February 4, 2019

WISCAT staff are currently compiling WISCAT statistics and will soon be sharing them with library system staff. For most library systems, these statistics reports will provide numbers that can be included in the Items Loaned (Provided To) and Items Received (Received From) fields in the Annual Report. The reports will also include Unique Requests Sent, Fill Rate, Patron Initiated, and Staff Initiated counts on the borrowing end, and Requests Received and Fill Rate on the lending end. These additional figures are for system and library staff reference and are not required on the annual report.

You may wonder why these statistics are being generated several weeks after the year's end. Interlibrary loan statistics are essentially a snapshot of a moment in time, and the later statistics are run, the closer they will be to being accurate (and the higher the numbers will be). As an example, a library may have placed 10 requests on 12/31/2018. Until those requests are all marked as Shipped by lenders, they will be seen by the system as not yet filled. Activity & Request Reports in WISCAT are based on request origination date, so statistics pulled on 1/1/2019 for 12/31/2018 may have shown the fill rate for those 10 requests to be 0/10, while a later snapshot would show them closer to 10/10, depending on how many are ultimately filled.

Please see WISCAT Documentation for more details on statistics, and please Contact Us with your questions.

Written by Gail Murray, Resources for Libraries & Lifelong Learning


1923 is in the Public Domain

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

As of  January 1, 2019 works first published in the United States in 1923 have entered the public domain. It has been 21 years since the US has seen such a large volume of works enter the public domain and never before in the digital age. The 20th century is largely missing from the internet.

We can blame Mickey Mouse for this. In 1928, Disney would have lost copyright protection in 2004. A major push from corporations and individual entertainers urged congress to pass the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. This added 20 years onto the copyright term. Mickey now would be protected until 2024 and no copyrighted work would enter the public domain until 2019.  It's 2019!

According to Glenn Fleishman in the (“Smithsonian Magazine”, 2019):copyright and public domain

That deluge of works includes not just “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” Which appeared first in the New Republic in 1923, but hundreds of thousands of books, musical compositions, paintings, poems, photographs and films. After January 1, any record label can issue a dubstep version of the 1923 hit “Yes! We Have No Bananas,” any middle school can produce Theodore Pratt’s stage adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray and any historian can publish Winston Churchill’s The World Crisis with her own extensive annotations. Any artist can create and sell a feminist response to Marcel Duchamp’s seminal Dadaist piece, The Large Glass (The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even) and any filmmaker can remake Cecil B. DeMille’s original The Ten Commandments and post it on YouTube.

Not only does this open the door to more creative works, but widens access for all.

Written by:  Christine Barth, Resources for Libraries


For questions about this information, contact Christine Barth (608) 224-6171