2019: Marking ten years of “Top 10” resource sharing request data

Top ILL titles banner 2019

Since 2016, when we first presented our list in Next, it’s become a highly anticipated announcement in the resource sharing community: What were the most requested titles on OCLC’s ILL systems?

This year has been no different, and I’ve had several colleagues ask me about when the list would be rolled out. So without further ado, I’m pleased to present the top 10 interlibrary loan requests made in 2019.

The top 10 ILL’d titles for 2019*

(Shown in order, 1-10. Click cover image to see the book in WorldCat)

01Crawdads_200Becoming_200Trick Mirror_200Nothing_200Earth_200Surveillance_200Atomic_200White_200Eleanor_200

Some observations

Our first blog post identifying the top ILL’d titles was 17 February 2016, Next’s inaugural year. We presented the top ten ILL’d titles for 2015, as well as lists for 2010–2014. We also presented four trends to watch in the coming year.

The top 10 ILL'd titles from 2019 Click To Tweet

I’m pleased to say that that story remains our most popular Next post of all time! In fact, all of our yearly “Top ILL” posts are among our 25 most popular. Which shows you the passion this topic excites within the library community.

Also of interest … this year’s list is almost all new compared to last year. Nine of the ten titles are appearing for the first time. The only “repeat” is Educated: A Memoir, which was #1 again. In the years we’ve been tracking this data, only one other title has been in the top spot for two straight years: Hillbilly Elegy, in 2016 and 2017.

Here are some other observations:

  • The top three titles on our list mirrored those on other bestseller lists: Amazon, Publishers Weekly, USA Today, and The New York Times.
  • There were more nonfiction than fiction books on the 2019 list, a trend we’ve seen for the past three years.
  • Eight of the ten authors are women.

Final thoughts

As you probably know, 2019 was the 40th anniversary of OCLC’s interlibrary loan system. The system processed 565,680 ILL transactions in its first year, compared to 6.7 million last year—about 13 requests per minute.

But after 40 years, the OCLC resource sharing community remains far from resting on its laurels. Today, we are working together to move even further into areas of automation and networked services to create a user-first, library on-demand. We are currently developing capabilities in several areas, including smart fulfillment of library materials that is seamless, automated, and transparent, and the creation of a universal inventory that provides the ability to access, borrow, or buy from a vast, authoritative source of library-enabled content.

The library on-demand will move users naturally from point-of-need to arrival of resource.

I wonder how that will impact our list of the most requested ILL titles going forward?

(*87% of the libraries and 96% of the total borrows are from US libraries.)

Top ILL titles for previous years


  1. Educated: A Memoir
  2. 12 Rules for Life
  3. Little Fires Everywhere
  4. Crazy Rich Asians
  5. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
  6. Before We Were Yours
  7. Girl, Wash Your Face
  8. A Gentleman in Moscow
  9. Licensed to Lie
  10. Maps of Meaning


  1. Hillbilly Elegy
  2. Deep Learning
  3. A Gentleman in Moscow
  4. A Man Called Ove
  5. Iris and Lily
  6. Margin of Safety
  7. Milk and Honey
  8. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
  9. Cracking the Coding Interview
  10. When Breath Becomes Air


  1. Hillbilly Elegy
  2. Me Before You
  3. When Breath Becomes Air
  4. A Man Called Ove
  5. The Girl on the Train
  6. The Nightingale
  7. Between the World and Me
  8. All the Light We Cannot See
  9. America 2020
  10. Cracking the Coding Interview


  1. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
  2. All the Light We Cannot See
  3. The Girl on the Train
  4. Between the World and Me
  5. Ghost Boy
  6. The Martian
  7. Storm Clouds Rolling in 1860 — 1861
  8. FE Civil Review Manual: rapid preparation for the Civil Fundamentals of Engineering Exam
  9. The Boys in the Boat
  10. The Rosie Project


  1. Dead Doctors Don’t Lie
  2. Capital in the Twenty-First Century
  3. Hardwired
  4. The Fault in Our Stars
  5. The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children
  6. Orphan Train: A Novel
  7. The Goldfinch
  8. Trim Healthy Mama
  9. Gone Girl: A Novel
  10. Allegiant


  1. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
  2. Gut and Psychology Syndrome
  3. Inferno: A Novel
  4. Game of Thrones, the Complete Second Season (DVD)
  5. House of Darkness House of Light: The True Story. Volume One
  6. Natural Solutions to Things that Bug You
  7. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth
  8. Gone Girl: A Novel
  9. The Fault in Our Stars
  10. The Cuckoo’s Calling


  1. Fifty Shades of Grey
  2. The Hunger Games
  3. Catching Fire
  4. Gone Girl: A Novel
  5. Mockingjay
  6. Cloud Atlas: A Novel
  7. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking
  8. The Harbinger
  9. Tales of a Rascal: What I Did for Love
  10. Gut and Psychology Syndrome


  1. Heaven is for Real
  2. The Help
  3. A Game of Thrones
  4. The Hunger Games
  5. Bossypants
  6. Catching Fire
  7. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
  8. Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses
  9. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
  10. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption


  1. Mockingjay
  2. Freedom
  3. The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo
  4. The Help
  5. Computer Networking: A Top-down Approach
  6. George Washington’s Sacred Fire
  7. Introduction to Algorithms
  8. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
  9. Room: A Novel
  10. APA Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology