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Monday, 11th May 2009

Key Findings: Profiles of Best Practices in Academic Library Interlibrary Loan

From the Summary of a Full Text Report (fee-based) by the Primary Research Group.

Primary Research Group has published Profiles of Best Practices in Academic Library Interlibrary Loan. The study profiles the interlibrary loan efforts of nine leading American colleges: the University o Texas at Arlington, Tulane University, the University of Minnesota, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Brigham Young University, the University of Tennessee, Colorado State University, Oberlin College and Stony Brook University. The report was edited and supervised by Paul Kelsey, MLS, University of Texas, Austin.

The libraries interviewed shared their thoughts on a broad range of topics including but not restricted to: workflow management, productivity measures, departmental organization, budgets and spending trends, service to distance learning students, copyright and licensing issues, measures for special
collections, automation and software use, use of institutional repositories and open access publications, shipping costs and procedures, and many other facets of academic interlibrary loan management.

The purpose of the report is to define and diffuse best practices by profiling measures taken by nine leading institutions of higher education. Although the report contains much useful quantitative information, especially relating to budgets and employment, the focus in this report is on a journalistic narrative explaining departmental goals, procedures and practices and evaluating results.

Just a few of the reportís main findings are that:

+ Surprisingly, institutional repositories (IR) and open access (OA) materials have not substantially impacted interlibrary loan services, at least not for the libraries surveyed. Most of the participants report the same or an increased volume of business, and most of the departments do not have a system for tracking these materials.

+ Perhaps as a result of the advantages of participation in consortiums all of the departments reported relatively low use of commercial document delivery services. Some of the commercial suppliers used were: Ingenta, the British Library, Harvard Business Publishing, CISTI, ASME, Sage, Informa, NTIS, Storming Media, InfoTrieve, and the National Library of Medicine.

+ All of the libraries report offering the same services (with some exceptions) to their constituents regardless of their status as students or faculty members. In general, the departments do not charge at all for services (some reported occasionally charging under special circumstances), and most do not impose limits on the amount of material patrons can order.

+ All of the departments offer the same ILL services to distance education students as to other constituents, with some minor differences. The distance education students sign up for ILLiad accounts and receive the majority of their articles electronically.

+ The majority of the libraries typically do not loan special collections items or lend out such items only under special circumstances.

+ Most of the reporting libraries use turnaround time and fill rate as the chief measures for evaluating service and productivity. Depending on the library, departments run ILLiad reports weekly, monthly, annually or on an as-needed basis, and several libraries report using customized Microsoft Access reports to analyze data.

Source: Primary Research Group


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