Interlibrary Loan Overview

NWLS is committed to services that provide member library patrons with valuable resources available through local and statewide resource sharing efforts.

Reference Services

Interlibrary loan reference and information services include access to subscription databases and special collections available through the Resource Library.

Reference Databases
Wisconsin residents with a library card have free access to business, education, health, literature, magazine and newspaper resources through BadgerLink.

Backup Reference Service
Superior Public Library is the NWLS Resource Library and receives funding to provide backup reference services for member libraries to ensure that the citizens of the NWLS service area are able to find the information they seek. If a library is unable to answer a reference question for their patron, they are encouraged to contact the Superior Public Library for assistance. Telephone: 715.394.8860 Website:

Local Interlibrary Loan

The resources of NWLS member libraries are readily available to all residents in northern Wisconsin through the Merlin shared online catalog. Through the Merlin Integrated Library System (ILS) Northern Waters facilitates resource sharing among participants and increases the efficiency and effectiveness of library services. Residents can request materials directly through the online catalog and receive an automated notice when the material is ready to pick up.

The Merlin catalog is the first source NWLS libraries check when filling requests for patrons.  Any materials that patrons request that are not available from Merlin libraries are searched and requested on WISCAT, a Wisconsin library catalog. 

Statewide Interlibrary Loan

Resource sharing is a primary objective of the Wisconsin Library Technology Strategic Plan and leads to a successful statewide library network. The Division for Libraries and Technology (DLTCL) facilitates the implementation of the statewide library network through the WISCAT project. WISCAT, a service project of Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning (RL&LL), is the statewide union catalog.   The WISCAT project encompasses two major goals:
1.    To create a resource sharing tool that could be used by Wisconsin libraries of all types and sizes to locate materials for interlibrary loan.
2.    To provide a cost effective method by which libraries could convert their collections to the MARC bibliographic standard for use as the basis of local automation projects.

Libraries are able to participate in the interlibrary loan system at a number of levels. They may fully participate by being both a borrower and a lender; they may choose to just request materials but have another library or agent monitor their incoming requests; or they may agree simply to lend materials to others on the system. Individual library patrons are able to monitor the status of their own requests.


To access Interlibrary Loan training and guidelines, please use the staff login and navigate to the Interlibrary Loan section. If you are already logged in, you can navigate to any of the following Interlibrary Loan training resources: