How long does RACER take?

As you would expect, this depends on where your item is coming from and what type of resource you’re requesting: Western’s answer is 1 to 4 weeks for book, and 1 week for a photocopied journal article.

The path that an interlibrary loan request takes is as follows (roughly):

  1. You fill in your request
  2. Your request is received by the Western Libraries’ Interlibrary Loan (ILL) department
  3. They review whether ILL is absolutely necessary (we might have the item here at Western, hiding somewhere)
  4. They send your request to the other university’s ILL department
  5. This ILL department then sends your request to their holding library
  6. That library receives the request
  7. The library staff process your request and send the item back to their own ILL department
  8. Your item is shipped here to Weldon
  9. Weldon ships the item to Brescia
  10. We email you

That’s many steps.  Things that can delay this process include: holidays, weekends, libraries that are far away. So, make sure to use RACER when you still have lots of time before your essay is due.  Here is Western Libraries’ answer to this question:

How long will it take for my request to arrive?

  • Your request may come from anywhere in Canada, the United States or off continent.
  • Staff find the best source and arrange for the material to be delivered to campus.
  • If your request has a deadline, please note this in “special instructions” on the RACER form.
  • Photocopies are normally available within a week.
  • Loans usually take 1 to 4 weeks to arrive.


For more information on requesting Interlibrary Loan material, see RACER’s online guide:

How do you find full-text articles?

We’ve all had this happen to us: we’ll come across a really great article, but getting the full-text is next to impossible.  We can find the citation and the abstract, and we’ll even try the “Get it @ Western” button, but nothing seems to work.

While there are many explanations as to why this problem occurs, it usually comes down to money: while a journal may be indexed (or its contents are listed) in a variety of databases, Western may only pay for one database to provide full-text access.  OR we may have access through the journal’s website.  Rather than wasting time by guessing, there are a few simple steps you can follow to find full-text articles quickly.

  1. Head to the library catalogue:
  2. Change the search option to “Journal Title”
  3. Enter the exact name of the journal (including “of” or “the”).
  4. Check to see if you can get online access to the journal
  5. Check to see if you can get online access to the volume you need. This is done by looking at the date range to the right of the database name.
  6. Click the link to visit the website or database for full text access
  7. Browse to the volume/issue of your article
  8. Find the PDF/Full text version of your article

Things that can happen that will screw this process up:

  1. When you visit the database or journal, the list of past issues isn’t right there on the screen.  Look for a link that says “archive” or “past issues.”
  2. Western may not have online access to the journal (as determined by steps 4 or 5 above).  If this happens, scroll down in the catalogue to see if we carry the journal in print.  Record the name of the library that carries the journal, and the call number.  Then you get to go on a field trip to find your journal article!
  3. Western may not subscribe to the journal at all.  If this happens, see a library staff person about what to do next.  We have a service called Interlibrary loan that will allow you to borrow items (including journal articles) from other universities: the library staff will help you determine if this is an appropriate option for you.