Interlibrary Loan Policy


This policy addresses the service standards of the Supreme Court of Canada Library's interlibrary loan service and responsibilities of the requesting libraries participating in interlibrary loan with the Library. It is based on the principles articulated in the CLA/Asted Interlibrary Loan Code revised in 1995 by the Resource Sharing Committee of the Canadian Library Association.


Interlibrary Loan is a cooperative exchange of items between libraries to fulfill the information needs of the organization. The Supreme Court of Canada Library offers this service to our clients to supplement the Library's collection in order to fully meet our clients' research needs. By partnering with other libraries, clients are able to access material outside the scope of the Library's in-house collection.


For the purposes of Interlibrary Loan, the Supreme Court of Canada has two client groups: internal clients and external clients. Internal clients are Supreme Court of Canada staff who need to borrow materials from other libraries for work purposes. External clients are other libraries, including our Resource sharing partners, acting on behalf of their clients. Individual researchers must make their request for an interlibrary loan from the Supreme Court through an affiliated library.


Borrowing materials

We must respect the limitations placed on materials by copyright laws, licensing restrictions and the internal policies of the lending libraries. Within those limits, we will attempt to borrow all types of materials requested by our clients provided that those materials are not available in the Supreme Court's collection.When we are not able to obtain the material requested, we will explain the reason for this and offer alternative sources for the information, if they exist.

Lending materials

The Library strives to make its interlibrary loan lending practices as open as possible. As a result, most of our print collection and selective material in other formats are available for loan. The following materials will not be loaned out:

  • Looseleaf editions.
  • Materials from our Rare Books collection and anything printed before 1900.
  • New library titles and current journal volumes featured in our Table of Contents service temporarily located in our Reserve section and other materials from our Research and Reserve collection.
  • Materials from our electronic collection that are restricted to staff use based on licensing agreements with publishers.
  • Any other item in the collection, if in the opinion of the staff, such loan would result in adverse service to the Court.

The format selected for lending materials will be determined by a variety of factors including expediency, availability, practicality, and user preference. However, because copyright laws and licensing agreements will always be adhered to when selecting format, user preferences cannot always be accommodated.

There is no limit to the number of items that can be borrowed from our library but priority is given to our internal clients and not all items may be available at the time of the request.


Interlibrary loan requests should be made using the interlibrary request form. External clients will need a user account and a system password which can be obtained by contacting the Reference Desk at Interlibrary loan requests can also be made by telephone at 613-996-8120, fax at 613-952-2832 or in person.

To ensure that the correct material is supplied as quickly as possible, clients are encouraged to provide as much information as possible. When necessary, the Library will contact the requester for clarification.

Urgent requests should indicate when the material is required and will be processed as quickly as possible. Every effort will be made to ensure that the material gets to the requester in the time needed.

Turn-Around Times

Requests for interlibrary loans are processed within 24 hours of receipt. Urgent requests will be given high priority. The Supreme Court Library strives to get material to our clients in the timeline requested; however, some requests may take considerably longer, depending on the complexity of the request and the availability of the material. Although the time taken for another library to respond to a request is beyond our control, in general the requested material is received within one week.


The Library makes every effort to deliver materials in the format and method preferred by our clients; but, due to a variety of factors including copyright laws, licensing agreements, and staff resources, not all preferences can be accommodated.

Delivery of print and audio-visual materials

When delivering print and audio-visual materials, the Supreme Court Library will use suitable methods of delivery based on client preference, including: NCR express, courier, Canada Post, and pick up by the client at the Library circulation desk. If the client chooses to have the material delivered by courier, the client must cover the costs and make all arrangements with the courier. If the client chooses to have the materials delivered by Canada Post, the Court will use the Library Book Rate to ship the materials.

Delivery of photocopied or scanned documents from our print collection

The Library will provide delivery of a photocopied or scanned portion of material in our print collection when requested, provided that the request does not require us to violate copyright laws, and we have the staff resources available to fulfill the request. As a rule, the Library will not copy more than five per cent of a volume. Requests for more than five per cent will be referred to the manager of interlibrary loans and may ultimately be refused. When print documents not in the public domain are scanned and supplied in electronic format, Digital Rights Management (DRM) software may be used when required to ensure our compliance with the Copyright Act. In the absence of Digital Rights Management software, it is the responsibility of the borrowing library to print a copy for delivery and destroy the electronic copy.

More detailed information regarding the photocopying and scanning practices of the Library staff can be found in the Copying and Scanning Guidelines for Staff document that is used by staff in conjunction with this policy.

Delivery of electronic documents

The Supreme Court Library will deliver electronic documents when it is preferred by the requesting library, practical, and does not violate copyright laws or licensing restrictions. Digital Rights Management (DRM) software may be used when required to ensure our compliance with the Copyright Act. In the absence of Digital Rights Management software, it is the responsibility of the borrowing library to print a copy for delivery and destroy the electronic copy. In the instances when the Library is not able to provide our clients with an electronic document, we will provide you with an explanation as to why it is not possible.

Loan Periods

Borrowing materials

The loan periods of borrowed materials will be determined by the lending libraries. The Library will make every effort to ensure that our clients have the material for the amount of time requested. Renewals will also be determined by the lending libraries.

Lending materials

The loan periods for the Supreme Court Library materials are as follows:

  • One week:
    • Legislation
    • Law reports
    • Audio-visual materials
    • Journal issues
  • Two weeks:
    • Books

Renewals are possible but subject to recall if a member of the Supreme Court staff requests an item.

Lost Item Policy

Internal clients are responsible for any lost items in their possession. The penalty for losing an item will be determined by the lending library. If an external client loses an item from the Supreme Court Library's collection, they will be asked to supply the Library with a replacement copy or reimburse the library for the cost of the item and the associated administrative costs. The exact cost will be determined based on the cost of the material in question.

Copyright Laws and Licensing Agreements

Library staff observes copyright laws and regulations and will return requests that appear to violate the law. Additionally, many electronic resources available in the library intended for use by the staff of the Supreme Court may come with licensing restrictions that the Library must respect. If a request is made for material that is restricted by licensing agreements, the Library will offer an alternative source for the material if one exists.

Suspension of Borrowing Privileges

Any client who shows continuous disregard for the policies listed above may have their borrowing privileges suspended for a period of time determined by the Library.

Further Information

For further information regarding our interlibrary loan policies and procedures, please contact the Supreme Court of Canada Library Reference Desk.

Adopted by the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada and approved by the Library Advisory Committee, June 15th, 2010.