National Library Week: Using RaiderLoan and MeLCat

By Lisa M. Rabey
Systems & Web Librarian

Anyone who uses GRPL or KDL might be familiar with obtaining materials from other libraries if they are unavailable at their home library. For example, I’ve recently started reading a series of cozy mysteries by M.C. Beaton and my home library, GRPL Main, does not have the entire series. Not a problem, I can search other local libraries within GRPL’s catalog to see if they have it and if they do, have it sent to GRPL Main for me to pick up with arrival usually in less than a week. Once the book arrives, GRPL sends me an email and I go pick up the book at my convenience. And this service? It is completely free!

Sounds great, right? I don’t even have to leave the comfort of my house to make the request nor make last minute trips to discover that the book has already been checked out!

Libraries refer to this process of obtaining materials from other libraries as an interlibrary loan. In my view, this is probably one of the least used services that libraries have to offer but one we should be advocating more. Why? It broadens the patron’s access to materials by at least a ten fold, it facilitates return use to the library, and it also enables discovery of other materials to name but a few reasons.

While GRPL has eight branches to search from and KDL has 18 branches, GRCC is but one library. So if we don’t have what you’re looking for, how do we get the materials to you?

There are a couple of ways, via GRCC, to get materials to you. The first one is RaiderLoan, the worldwide accessible interlibrary loan service. RaiderLoan allows you to make requests for materials that GRCC may not have (or is checked out) and this can include magazine articles as well as books and other materials. There are a few things to consider when using the service:

  • While interlibrary loan within a local library system like GRPL or KDL can take about a week to get to you, there is no rule of thumb for delivery via RaiderLoan. If you’re requesting an item and the nearest location is in Europe, for example, it can take weeks if not months before the item arrives. Thus, if you’re looking for materials to finish a paper due in a few weeks, RaiderLoan may not be for you.
  • In order to use RaiderLoan, you will need to know as much information about the book (title, author, publisher, date) as humanly possible. The more information you provide, the better the chance of getting your item to you.

While RaiderLoan is awesome, it’s super useful for materials that may border a bit on the unknown or obscure or hard to find. But let’s say what you’re looking for is neither obscure or hard to find, rather, it’s just been checked out here at GRCC and is not available via GRPL or KDL, then what?

This is where MeLCat comes in!

MeLCat is the catalog of the Michigan Electronic Library, which is run by Library of Michigan and in partnership with participating libraries around Michigan. Where as searching the catalog at GRPL or KDL searches all participating libraries in those library systems (narrow search), searching MeLCat searches ALL the participating libraries in the state of Michigan, which numbers in the hundreds (wide search). The list of participating libraries is not just public libraries but also includes special and academic libraries.

And just like using interlibrary loan via GRPL or via RaiderLoan, using MeLCat has similar setup with a few exceptions:

  • Like using RaiderLoan or doing an interlibrary loan via GRPL, the cost to use the services is free.
  • The typical length of time from request of an item to delivery is about a week.
  • You can have the materials sent to whatever library service you participate with, thus you can have your materials sent to GRCC (pick up at the periodicals desk on the 2nd floor) or if for example you live in Cascade, have them sent to the Cascade branch of KDL.
  • You just need to have the library card for that participating library to pick up the materials (in the case of GRCC, your RaiderCard or for Cascade branch of KDL, a KDL card.)
  • This also means that if you find a book that is currently located in Ferndale, you do NOT have to drive to Ferndale to pick it up, it will get sent directly to you!
  • You can search the catalog and make the requests from home.
  • You do the renewals directly through MeL’s website
  • Just as you picked up your title from your home library of choice, you return the materials back to your home library of choice, which will then be shipped back to the library the item came from.

Here’s the best part: If you take your RaiderCard to the circulation desk on the first floor of the library, ask them for a Michisticker. A Michisticker is sticker placed on your RaiderCard that will give you privileges at hundreds of libraries around Michigan. So let’s say you were in Charlevoix and you wanted to check out materials at the Charlevoix Public Library but you don’t have a library card through them, then what? By presenting your RaiderCard with the Michisticker attached, that gives you privileges not only at Charlevoix but at nearly 400 participating libraries around the state of Michigan.

Near or far, online or in print, GRCC Library has access to millions of materials for you to access and enjoy, all with a click of a button!

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