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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




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