Looking at interlibrary loan, 2016 edition

Christa ILL titles

Everyone likes reading about lists and trends. I guess it’s part of our natural curiosity to wonder who’s in the top ten and to analyze what direction our culture or profession appears to be headed.

In the case of interlibrary loan (ILL), it’s also a lot of fun! To bibliophiles like me, it’s interesting to look at who’s reading what and which books are the most popular based on our ILL transactions.

The ILL community enjoys the data as well. Last year, the most popular post in the Next blog—based on page views and unique visitors—was the one on ILL trends to watch. And in December, a person on Twitter posted about how orologi replica siti affidabili eager she was to see what new trends might be revealed in this year’s look at ILL statistics.

Well, here are the latest themes in the interlibrary loan world based on our data. Comparing it with last year, it’s more of the same with one new finding.

The top 10 ILL’d titles for 2016

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

Hillbilly ElegymebeforeyoucoverwhenbreathbecomesairamancalledoveGirl on the train

nightengaleBetween the world and meAll the lightamerica2020crackingthecode

ILL reflects the political events of the tumultuous 2016 election season

If you recall from last year’s post, we looked at six years’ worth of data, from 2010 to 2015, and identified four trends. Adding 2016 to the mix didn’t change anything very much, except for one notable observation. Not surprisingly, the top 2016 ILL theme was how closely aligned ILL was with current events. Two of the top ten books requested were political books that reflected what was taking place in the news and popular culture—the US presidential race.* Hillbilly Elegy was published in June 2016 and by the end of July, it had rocketed to the 12th most-requested monograph on the OCLC ILL system. By August, it was firmly entrenched in first place and remains there to this day. America 2020: The Survival Blueprint debuted among top ten titles in May and remained there until after the November election.

The top 2016 ILL theme was closely aligned with current events. Click To Tweet

Other than that, here is what we observed.

  • Repeats from 2015. Three books from the 2015 most-borrowed list found their way onto the 2016 list—The Girl on the Train, Between the World and Me and All the Light We Cannot See. What titles will repeat in 2017?
  • More movie tie-ins. There were three movie tie-ins in the 2016 list, which seems to be a recurring trend every year. In fact, the movie based on The Girl on the Train, which made the list for the second year in a row, was released in October. What movie tie-ins will be there next year?
  • No self-published titles. There were two in 2015 but no self-published titles in 2016. Will this continue?
  • No YA titles. This was a surprise, since at least two young adult titles had been on the list for several years. Last year we wondered if more adults were requesting YA titles or if younger people were discovering ILL. Is this the start of a new, downward trend for YA titles?
  • Same fiction/nonfiction mix. Six fiction and four nonfiction titles were on the 2016 list, just the same as 2015.

This year, we also looked at the top ILL titles by library type. What we found is what you might expect. Medical and law libraries borrowed medical and law-related books, while corporate, government and theological libraries borrowed business, governing and religious materials. Below are the top ILL titles by library type.

More interesting numbers for you to ponder

Is your ILL statistic appetite still wanting? Well, here are few more numbers to satisfy your fix!

  • More than 10,000 libraries subscribe to OCLC resource sharing services.
  • Every 18 seconds, a library fills an interlibrary loan request.
  • More than 7,300 libraries requested at least one item using ILL, and 7,500 libraries loaned at least one item in 2016.
  • More than 1 million articles were shared online using OCLC’s Article Exchange.

What interesting numbers and trends in ILL do you see? Let us know on Twitter with #OCLCnext.

Top Three ILL titles by library type


  1. A Man Called Ove: A Novel
  2. The Nightingale
  3. America 2020: The Survival Blueprint


  1. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
  2. When Breath Becomes Air
  3. Me Before You

Academic Research

  1. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
  2. When Breath Becomes Air
  3. Me Before You

Community or Junior College

  1. A Man Called Ove: A Novel
  2. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
  3. The Nightingale

Schools Below College Level

  1. I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World
  2. The Girl on the Train
  3. Maus: A Survivor’s Tale


  1. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
  2. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
  3. Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right


  1. Report on Medical School Faculty Salaries
  2. Family Nurse Practitioner Certification Intensive Review: Fast Facts and Practice
  3. Understanding Voice Problems: A Physiological Perspective for Diagnosis and Treatment


  1. Online Technical Meeting Papers
  2. Science of Synthesis: Houben-Weyl Methods of Molecular Transformations
  3. European Pharmacopoeia


  1. Choosing the Good: Christian Ethics in a Complex World
  2. Trauma and Traumatization in Individual and Collective Dimensions: Insights from Biblical Studies and Beyond
  3. Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible


  1. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
  2. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t
  3. The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals       

* 98% of the libraries and 93% of the total borrows are from US libraries.