Boston Public Library - Document Delivery
Libraries and individuals can now place requests through the BPL's ILLiad site:
Other Mass Resources (not run by MLS, except for MassCat)
CLAMS (Cape Libraries Automated Materials Sharing)
C/W MARS (Central/Western Massachusetts Automated Resource Sharing, Inc.)
C/W MARS OverDrive
FLO (Fenway Library Organization)
MBLN (Metro Boston Library Network)
MLN (Minuteman Library Network)
MVLC (Merrimack Valley Library Consortium)
NOBLE (North of Boston Library Exchange)
OCLN (Old Colony Library Network)
SAILS (Southeastern Automated Integrated Library Services)
There are over 328 million people in the United States. A recent American Community Survey found that over 350 languages are spoken by that population. In Massachusetts, residents report speaking 142 languages other than English. This section will be an on-going exploration of likely resources for various languages that are the most popular in MA:
Spanish (431,000 speakers): take a peek at an interesting blog post about collection development for Spanish language collections.
Archives of American Art (Smithsonian)
The Archives of American Art specializes in the visual arts of the United States, and its holdings include manuscripts, letters, diaries, scrapbooks, albums, films, oral histories, and more. They have discontinued lending microfilm reels over Interlibrary Loan, and have replaced the service with Digitization on Demand, a fee-based service. Requests for digitization can be placed by individual patrons, or by your library. More information on Digitization on Demand can be found here and AAA's updated ILL policy can be found here. MLS will no longer be able to act as an intermediary for requests for items held by the Archives of American Art.
Boston Public Library
The Boston Public Library's history and genealogy collections are unique and vast. Many of them are also uncataloged. If you are unable to find family or town histories on WorldCat.org, please let us know, and we can approach the BPL. They have items about nearly every place in Massachusetts, and much of New England, including "more than 30,000 wide-ranging materials from the 17th–21st centuries." There is more information here. Also take a peek at newspapers at the BPL.
Canadian Libraries $
Requesting from Canadian libraries takes a few steps, but it is not impossible. Remember that often ILL fees apply, and postage has recently gone up enormously (there have also been a number of Canadian postal strikes). One Canadian catalog is called Voilà; an older one is Amicus (log-in needed); and Libraries and Archives Canada's catalog is Aurora. We use the Scholars Portal RACER to place requests.
Chronicling America (newspapers; Library of Congress)
Chronicling America is a fascinating site that includes digitized newspapers from 1690 to today. Try the Advanced Search feature for better results, but beware - it's easy to lose yourself in the past as you search! The U.S. Newspaper Directory is also helpful, for there you can find which libraries own newspapers from specific years.
The Digital Commonwealth is an organization serving cultural institutions in Massachusetts, helping them digitize their collections and put them online. Here you can find documents, images, and sound recordings, mostly about Massachusetts.The advanced search page allows you to narrow your search by year, format, and institution - very helpful! Also see the Digitization page at the MBLC's website.
Digital Public Library of America (DPLA)
The Digital Public Library of America is a vast collection of free materials that have been digitized by cultural organizations across the United States. It's a wonderful resource for genealogists, researchers, and students. It's holdings include those of the Digital Commonwealth (see above). Other partners are listed here. DPLA has curated several very interesting exhibitions that help give patrons a taste of what they have to offer. Other digital collections in New England include: Connecticut Digital Archive; Digital Maine; Digital Vermont; and the New Hampshire State Library Digital Document Depository.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon church) is responsible for the enormous holdings found at Family Search. This is a free service - all you need to do is sign up for an account. MLS is no longer able to request microfilm reels from the Family History Library, but a great many reels have been digitized, and can be accessed at Family History Centers. Please note that the Family History Library does not circulate physical items such as books.
Don't forget to try Google itself to track down more information about ILL items. And Google Advanced Search often gives you even better results.. Google Books is also a great site, showing snippets of information from millions of items. Especially useful are citations and references, often found at the end of a digitized book, giving specific information necessary for ILL requests.
The HathiTrust Digital Library is a digital repository that works with Google Books and the Internet Archive. It provides full-text access to items in the public domain, and allows you to search materials that are still under copyright, allowing researches to ascertain whether an item is worth exploring further.
International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) / Petrucci Music Library
IMSLP has a large collection of public domain musical scores and recordings, searchable by composer name, genre, time period, etc. As of December 2023 they had over 740,000 scores in the collection.
The Internet Archive has the lofty goal of providing "universal access to all knowledge." Use their Wayback Machine to see earlier incarnations of websites, or scroll down to search their immense holdings. Full-text access to many items in the public domain (i.e., mainly items published before 1927). Good for: pre-1927 works of all kinds; some genealogical materials; music and audio; quite a few moving images / videos.
Lewiston Public Library (Maine)
If you're looking for novels in French, Lewiston Public Library up in Maine has an interesting collection. The MLS ILL Team can email the librarian in Lewiston to arrange a special loan.
Library of Congress - Collection "National Screening Room"
The LoC's National Screening Room is a collection of films (336 and counting), many of them of local or historical interest. A good resource for researchers, historians, genealogists, etc.
National Library of Medicine (NLM) $
The National Library of Medicine is a good source for health materials that prove unavailable through the usual routes. MLS has an ILL account with the NLM, and we are able to send requests, using a special form (see the NLM ILL site for more info, ILL Team; access their portal here). You can request not only books and reels of microfilm, but audio-visual items as well. There is a fee of $12 per item; invoices are sent quarterly.
Texas State Library and Archives Commission and Texas State Historical Association (some $)
Quite often we're asked for items held by the Texas State Library and Archives. They do lend, but only after we negotiate a tangle of different depositories and archives. If an item is held by the Library or Archives, we can use their request form (ILL Team - on the shared drive). Their Advanced Search page is here. They have also sent along a list of their depositories; these are especially useful if you wish to find who holds records for specific counties. Please visit the page, then search for the name of the desired county. Please note that many of these lenders charge for ILL (academic libraries).
DVDs are usually encoded as either NTSC (which stands for National Television Systems Committee) or PAL (Phase Altering Line). There is also SECAM (Système Electronique Couleur avec Mémoire).
IFM, and IFLA Vouchers
The easiest way to pay for ILL transactions is by using OCLC's Interlibrary Loan Fee Management (IFM) system. Please let us know the maximum cost (maxcost) you are willing to pay for a loan, and we'll enter the amount into the request before sending. If a lender does levy fees, they will charge MLS, and we will pay the invoice. We then ask you (or your patron) to reimburse us by check. If you wish to borrow from libraries abroad, we often need to use IFLA vouchers. Please contact us for more information about this option.