Parenthetically, isn't it interesting that we always refer to the service as interlibrary lending not borrowing? My philosophy is that we lend our materials to other libraries so that we can borrow material for our users. Getting stuff that our users want is the real core service here
One of the services I heard about that our users, at least the ones who spoke to me, thought needed improving is ILL. I heard about it at my interview and I heard about it as soon as I arrived on campus. I have learnt that when this happens, you listen. One of the big issues most liberal arts college libraries face is that their collections are too small to satisfy their active faculty and student users. ILL can be one of the most effective ways to alleviate this pressure.
Here are some of the things we should be thinking about:
- Our policies regarding fees to users, limitations on the number or type of requests, how they place requests, and what we loan to other libraries. We need to think about whether what we do now best serves our users and if it does not can we change it.
- Are we making the best use of technology in ILL and in connection with ILL? Some of the things we have to think about here are an ILL management system (currently we use Clio) that will enable our users to request materials they find in a database without having to retype the bibliographic information (.i.e an Open URL compliant ILL system like Clio Advanced or Illiad. To implement that we would also need a Link Resolver that would enable our users to find licensed fulltext anywhere in our system. Take a look at Article Linker for an example. We need to consider ways of increasing borrowing turnaround like RapidILL We also need to think about ways to enable our users to track their own requests online, again take a look at Clio Advanced or Illiad to examples. We also need to maximize our use of Ariel so that we are not printing out articles for our users but posting them to a web server where our users can get them when they want them and sending our users a notifying e-mail. Finally, we need to think about ways we can maximize our use of the OCLC ILL subsystem with systems like custom holdings, direct borrowing etc.
- We need to think about why we lend twice as much as we borrow. We have a small collection and a smart student body and actively researching faculty. Why do we lend more than we borrow? My intuition tells me there are a number of answers to that question that include borrowing service level in ILL, direct cost of borrowing from Rollins for partner libraries, quality if not quantity of our collection, etc.
- Improving our resource sharing relationship with UCF. At the moment they are an active ILL partner and our users travel to UCF to borrow. We should think about a shared patron initiated borrowing service in which our users can borrow from the partner library quickly and easily without having to travel.
- Over the long term, the next decade, I want Rollins to be linked into statewide borrowing systems that rival OhioLINK and I-Share.
- The most important thing we need to think about is our customer service. We have to look at this from our users perspective. Are we giving them the service they want? LibQual will help answer some of this, we will also have to find other ways to answer this question.
ILL is an important part of the array of library services. Just remember: what do our users want? Our goal should be to get it for them, with no hassles.