Document Delivery Sources: Science and Technical

or, “One Cannot Live by WorldCat Alone”

By Heather Duff with Grace Ju

Here is a list of resources and suggestions for getting copies of documents and verifying citations.  This post emphasizes science and technical sources, since the authors work(ed) at corporate libraries for an engineering firm and a resource company.


We recommend confirming your citation before ordering to minimize cost and turnaround time.  Here are some handy tools for verification.  However, if you plan to order a document from a library always check its own OPAC too in case there have been changes recently.  This is especially important for journal articles.

A. WorldCat: Yes you probably already knew this one, but it’s so handy that it bears repeating.  Individual article titles are sometimes listed as well as item titles.  WorldCat helps figure out incomplete citations, since it has entries for every different way member libraries have come up with to describe the item.  Beware that some Canadian libraries don’t upload their records to WorldCat but they do upload them to Amicus.

B. AMICUS: This service of Library and Archives Canada is a union catalogue of Canadian libraries.  It offers more limited search options and pool of records than WorldCat, but it’s well worth checking if you’re having trouble finding Canadian sources.  Also the ILL info for each library is handy (though sometimes outdated).

C. Outlook Online: This union catalogue of BC libraries is less comprehensive and current than WorldCat, but it does cover some libraries that don’t upload to AMICUS and WorldCat.

D. NEOS: Union catalogue of Alberta universities, colleges, government, and hospital libraries.  Includes online ordering forms for documents and ILL.

E. TAL Online: Union catalogue of Alberta public and post-secondary libraries.

F. OCUL RACER: Union catalogue of Ontario universities.  Includes online ordering for documents and ILL.

G. BIBCAT: Union catalogue of Ontario colleges.


We have commonly ordered documents from these organizations.  Choice of supplier depends on the document type, budget, urgency, and customer service experience.

1. University and public libraries: Many university libraries offer document delivery services, as well as community borrower cards with access to their databases (on-campus only).  Heather’s library uses a corporate card at Vancouver Public Library to remotely access  databases like EBSCO’s Academic Search Elite.  VPL also has a good collection of standards.  Older standards are often not in their catalogue, so call and ask.

2. Document delivery services: When Grace’s former library was short of staff they often used a document delivery company with low fees.  This company was efficient and worked over the weekends.  Unfortunately she cannot reveal the name due to her former employer’s confidentiality requirements.  Grace especially recommends this type of company for corporate libraries with few staff.  Heather’s library has used Reprints Desk and Infotrieve in the past (see also #4 below).  There is also Documents Delivered and Information Express; has anyone used them?

3. Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering and Technology: This non-profit, privately-funded independent library in the US offers good service and deep collection.  Sadly they don’t give exact price quotes before delivery, but if the price goes above your preset max cost they’ll contact you before proceeding.

4. NRC-CISTI/Infotrieve: CISTI’s (Canadian Institute for Science and Technical Information) document delivery service was contracted out to Infotrieve in 2010.  Then prices promptly soared and service slowed.  There has been some improvement, but we both consistently found their prices too high to use.  Infotrieve does make things easier by indexing many article titles, especially for newer items, and it offers price quotes before ordering (Note: “TBD” means “expensive”).  Also, Infotrieve will contact you before proceeding if a document would go over your preset max cost.  You can find an item in the CISTI OPAC and click on the Get It button to find that item in Infotrieve, or you can search Infotrieve directly, which includes CISTI holdings.

5. British Library: Their collection covers a vast range of subjects and time, plus delivery time has improved over the last few years.  Heather suggests ordering right from the main catalogue.  Unfortunately one has to request a credit card receipt every time; otherwise BL customer service has been pretty good despite the time zone difference.

6. GetInfo is a service of the German National Library of Science and Technology at Leibniz Universität Hannover (AKA TIB Hannover).  It has a good science collection, especially for proceedings from small European conferences.  GetInfo also has an excellent English-language catalogue and customer service.  For-profit non-European customers cannot receive papers by email due to copyright, so one can order online then receive papers by fax.

7. Theses and dissertations are getting much easier to find, especially theses published recently.


For more on document delivery check out the ShareILL wiki, successor to ILLWeb.  As of this writing it was last updated in April 2012 but does have lots of good sources, especially for international items.

Please comment below about your experience with these sources and/or suggest sources of your own.  By the way, if you’d like to write a post on document delivery for other types of library it would be welcome; contact Blog Coordinator.


One thought on “Document Delivery Sources: Science and Technical

  1. Hi Heather,
    Thank you for including Documents Delivered in your list of services. I figured some additional info about our service would be helpful. We’re a pay per use service that retrieves scientific, medical, technical and legal journal articles, book chapters and conference proceedings. I’m happy to answer any questions, and can be reached at

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