Using Interlibrary Loan Services to Support ELL Populations


A few years ago, I sat in on Dr. Cathi Fuhrman’s session at PSLA on providing ELL students with materials written in their native language.  Here is a link to Dr. Fuhrman’s presentation

The important points that I took away were:

  • reading in a native (primary) language promotes reading achievement in multiple languages.
  • it is vital that libraries are welcoming and proactively support students who have a primary language (which is not English) by purchasing and/or accessing books for the students written in their primary language.
  • ideally the librarian may seek out special funding or grants (or set aside their own budget money) in order to develop a collection that addresses varied interests, genres, and reading levels.
  • This brings about the limitations, specifically budget limitations (especially for a population which may be ever changing and evolving)

I came back and purchased some titles in Spanish and then we had a new student from a non-Spanish and non-English speaking country and suddenly I had nothing…

This leads me to a very special day of training last spring on the new interlibrary loan platform in Pennsylvania. I was tinkering around in the “sandbox” (why do I hate that term?) and I became obsessed with the concept that we could now access books via interlibrary loan to support our native speakers of non-English languages.

So, here is how to do it using Access Pennsylvania’s new platform:

  1. Enter a specific title or a more broad keyword (i.e. fiction) – Your choice!
  2. Hit the enter key
  3. DON’T hit Advanced (unless you desire typing in your keyword, yet again)
  4. Instead, hit Modify Search
  5. Select the Languages tab
  6. Select the dropdown bar for languages
  7. Check the language(s) that you desire to access
  8. Hit Search
  9. Narrow by subject, as needed

Now, you are ready to request books written in multiple languages via Pennsylvania’s interlibrary loan database!  Remember that it is so important that each student or patron feels valued, welcomed, and understood.  You have the keys to help this very pivotal transition in your students’ or patrons’ lives.  Good luck!

image citation:

Brown, Elliot. “Selly Oak Park – sign – Shared paths – Please Slow Down & Keep Left.” Flickr. Yahoo, 13 June 2012. Web. 15 Dec. 2015.