“What Does Electronic ILL Mean to You?”
Prepared by Marie Bloechle
Electronic Acquisitions Librarian
University of North Texas Libraries
The Publisher-Vendor-Library Relations Interest Group (PVLR IG) forum panel discussion was sponsored by the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS) and took place at ALA Midwinter on Monday (23 January 2012) from 8 to 10 AM in room D168 of the Dallas Convention Center. The topic was, “What Does Electronic ILL Mean to You?”, and was well attended with between 60 and 100 attendees present.
Our panel of 4 experts included 2 librarians and 2 industry representatives. They were:
Assistant Head of Information & Access Services
University of Houston
Acting Head of Central Access Services
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Portfolio Director – Delivery Services
OCLC (UK) Ltd
Product Manager, MyiLibrary
Ingram Library Services
Kim Steinle, the PVLR co-chair, moderated the discussion and introduced the speakers.
Presentations were given in this order: Nora Dethloff, Cherié Weible, Katie Birch, and Trina Wilson.
Nora started off with a simple rubric that her ILL team uses to determine how to handle an interlibrary loan request. They ask themselves: 1) do we own it, 2) can we lend it, and 3) where is it. Once these answers are determined, they print, scan, and send. The M.D. Anderson Library handles 20,000 ILL borrowing requests per year, which works out to more than 50 per day. They judge how well they are doing by their fill rate and their turn-around time. Because of this, they want to handle requests as quickly and as cheaply as possible; this means the less they handle a request, the better their stats are.
They track licenses using an Excel spreadsheet. It can be onerous determining ownership and license compliance for ILL, particularly on e-journal content. Licensing language is often convoluted and difficult to understand, so her ILL team will opt sometimes to avoid using e-journal content because it is more complicated than an “ordinary” print request. They basically consider there to be no ILL for e-books; even if it’s allowed (like with Springer), they don’t do it because of all the high-profile legal cases in the news involving academic libraries and copying, there’s a chilling effect on doing any ILL that isn’t the norm. She briefly mentioned Odyssey and the trusted sender in the ILLiad system.
Effectively, electronic ILL for Nora’s team is non-existent. They are still working in a print world. Even if they own an e-journal article, they have to print it, then scan it into an image, and then send that image as a PDF to their requestor. We as ILL librarians want an easier workflow and we wonder why we signed away those rights for electronic content.
Nora shared a list of her eILL wishes: 1) let’s figure out how to share e-books; 2) let’s transmit electronic content electronically; 3) publishers should respect our rights to copy content we own; 4) don’t make librarians jump through hoops; and 5) let’s have the same rules apply to everything, everywhere.
Cherié stated that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a net lender, with 65,954 lending and 25,723 borrowing requests. High volume is what’s important to her team, since they are handling so many requests. When they retrieve an OCLC ILL request, they print the article, scan it, and deliver it via Odyssey to the borrowing library. There are too many limitations on loaning e-content, whether it’s e-journal articles or portions of e-books. There are too many different types of e-reading devices, so lending any e-book content is problematic. Their current workflow is quite cumbersome, because of all the restrictions and decision trees. Cherié mentioned many of the same concerns that Nora brought up.
In regard to academic library users and ILL, they have different needs than public library patrons. They need longer loan periods than those provided for with the OverDrive system (only 3 weeks); they need the ability to renew the check-out easily; the purchase option for e-books should be expanded after the initial loan; they need the ability to export notes and marginalia, and not have it tied to a specific e-book; they prefer that e-books be in PDF format; and they need to be able to search and discover the e-content via their local library catalog and the Internet.
Katie talked about the WorldCat; there are 7,000 member libraries worldwide and they handle 10 million requests per year. We would all like to get the user what they want in a timely way; in minutes and hours rather than days and weeks. She used an analogy with Cinderella; even though ILL is hidden away, everyone finds it much more attractive than Cinderella’s ugly sisters. Katie also mentioned that the interlibrary loan system was first conceived of in 1550 by several Italian libraries that wanted to loan materials to one another.
Electronic ILL to her means being able to really lend electronic content electronically without resorting to clunky systems of printing, scanning, and sending as an image. True e-ILL would allow for short-term access to e-resources and just-in-time purchasing, so that librarians can make quick decisions “on the hoof”.
OCLC’s Article Exchange provides a cloud-based document delivery tool. Large files can be uploaded to a dropbox in the cloud for lenders and users to access via URL and password. Once a file has been picked up for the first time, it will remain available on this site for 5 days. After 5 days, the file is removed. A file can be picked up a maximum of 5 times for each URL/password combination. Files that are never picked up are removed after 30 days. This allows for an easy, 1-2-3 step enhanced sharing of articles with built-in rights management. The license management tool provides clearly defined decision trees to indicate which collections and titles are licensed for ILL, and any instructions/restrictions for lending licensed content. Workflows for articles held electronically by a lending library are simplified.
Katie showed a slide with several milestones for OCLC’s Marketplace. Libraries will be able to make just in time, buy it decisions rather than placing an ILL with a lending library. By February 2012, staff will have the option to buy an item rather than place an ILL. By May 2012, they will be able to modify their ILL workflows to support buy-it. By August 2012, the ability to define the buy-it profile will be added to the service config. By November 2012, the buy-it profile will be implemented. By February/May 2013, buy-it will be added from the WMS ACQ module. In the future, Marketplace plans to also provide a workflow for an ebook ILL between Marketplace partners.
Trina talked about the MyiLibrary system. They have over 55K titles available for loan today and more publishers are joining. MyiLibrary provides: the e-book to loan to the patron, an easy-to-use interface for the library, and compensation to publishers for the ILL usage. Publishers see ILL as a lost sale, but don’t seem to realize it’s an upsell opportunity. Publishers are concerned about the “breaking” of the licensing model. The issue is complex.