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:

What happens if the library stops subscribing to a journal?

Sometimes this happens: budget cuts affect us all.  But fear not!

To know if Western or the affiliates subscribe to a journal, make sure to check the Shared Library Catalogue.  The issues and volumes that a library owns will appear in the record.

If a library doesn’t subscribe to a journal anymore, the record will look like the one below (click on the image to expand):

You’ll notice that the record has “//” in the “LIB HAS” line.  This means that Brescia no longer subscribes to this journal.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Scroll down to the bottom of the library record to see if the journal has changed names. This happens more often than you’d think.  In our above example, the journal did change names to Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal, which Brescia subscribes to. I put a box around the information you want to look for in the picture below.
  2. Check to see if another institution can provide you with full-text access through Interlibrary Loan.  You do this by using RACER, a big library catalogue that searches all the participating institutions’ own library catalogues.  You’ll have to set up a RACER account the first time you use this system, and be prepared that it will take a while for the item to arrive at Brescia. (To learn more about Interlibrary loan, visit Western Libraries’ ILL page!)
  3. If the library record has a link to online access, go ahead and click to see if you can find the full-text anyway.  If one of the online links sayS “Directory of Open Access Journals,” this option will likely be successful.

If these options don’t work, or if you have trouble with requesting an item through Interlibrary Loan (most people need help with this system the first time they use it), make sure to ask for help from a library staff person!

What if something I need isn’t available at Western? (try Interlibrary Loan!)

Eventually,  it happens to everyone: you come across the perfect journal article or book, check the Shared Library Catalogue, and discover that Western and the affiliate colleges don’t have it.  Never fear, friends!  We have a service called Interlibrary Loan (ILL).

This service provides access to the library collections of many libraries across Ontario, Canada, the United States, and even internationally.  The other universities will photocopy the article you need, or ship the book here to Brescia, usually free of charge.

To use Interlibrary Loan, you must create a RACER account.  RACER is the name of the big program we use to search the catalogues of the participating libraries in the ILL program. RACER has an online guide for using their product, available here:

To register with RACER, and to find out more information, visit the Western Libraries’ website.  You are, of course, welcome to see any staff member in the Beryl Ivey Library too!