Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Response time to Interlibrary Loan Services Continues to Improve

Students, faculty, and staff who place Interlibrary Loan requests at Ball State University Libraries continue to experience faster response times for delivery of their material. Since the installation of ILLiad software in September 2003, the workflow of processing interlibrary loan requests has continued to become more efficient.

“The implementation of ILLiad has really helped Interlibrary Loan Services to manage the significant increases in borrowing requests from the academic community,” enthuses Elaine S. Nelson, Interlibrary Loan Supervisor. “We are loaning more materials every year to other institutions, too.”

ILLiad software has undergone several upgrades since its implementation, each bettering the system and incorporating features that increase its efficiency and reduce overall response time for delivering requests. Most recently, the University Libraries began utilizing ILLiad’s Direct Request feature, which automatically submits the users’ requests to other libraries once certain criteria are met.

Direct Request itself is transparent as a feature to the library user; rather, it remains behind the scenes so that when a user submits his/her request, Direct Request automatically forwards it to the libraries that own the item. Our Interlibrary Loan staff does not handle the request until the item physically arrives at the University Libraries.

The University Libraries implemented Direct Request in February 2006. The impact of this technology has been substantial for Interlibrary Loan staff and library users. Because it automatically handles the routine requests, staff can devote time to resolving hard-to-find requests, a time savings that translates to faster response time for obtaining these items.

Similarly, library users’ response time has been improved further through another ILLiad component, Odyssey software. Using this technology, when the requested article is received at the University Libraries, the Odyssey software posts it automatically to a Web page that is accessible through the user’s personal ILLiad account, and the user is notified that the article has been received. The user must then authenticate with his/her ID and password to access the article for downloading or viewing for up to thirty days. Posting the article to a Web page keeps the transaction confidential and improves response time by more than one day for delivery to the user. This popular feature contributes greatly to ILLiad’s Odyssey being utilized by more and more libraries worldwide.

Over the past five years, the University Libraries have seen an average increase of 9.2% in the number of borrowing requests for materials from other libraries. ILLiad’s recent improvements from Direct Request and the Odyssey software have enabled the Interlibrary Loan Services staff to keep pace with the research needs and requests of our students and faculty. Swift delivery of resources is crucial for library users to meet their deadlines. ILLiad has helped Interlibrary loan staff meet the increasing numbers of requests and it has improved response time overall by 1.78 days.

In addition to borrowing items from other libraries for students and faculty, Interlibrary Loan Services also works closely with libraries worldwide to share Ball State Libraries’ resources for the benefit of their users. The accompanying chart shows the number of borrowing and loaning transactions University Libraries conducted last academic fiscal year, 2005-2006. These significant numbers demonstrate our commitment to obtaining and supplying resources to our users and to other libraries.

Interestingly, over the past five years, the number of items loaned to other libraries has remained relatively stable at an average of 30,925 transactions. A possible explanation may be the affordability and widespread availability in college and university libraries of full-text databases such as JSTOR and Project Muse, collections of e-journals with rich archives, and aggregator databases such as Academic Search Premier, Thomson Gale’s Literature Resource Center, and PsycINFO, among others.


At the University Libraries, for example, we provide access to 10,272 full-text e-journal titles and their archives, view www.bsu.edu/libraries/ejournals/PDF/eJournal10277FullText.pdf.

Through Interlibrary Loan Services, students and faculty
· Obtain videos, software, and music from other libraries
· Obtain materials listed as “Checked Out” in our online public catalog
· Obtain most requested materials in less than 10 days
· Access requested articles online anytime

For more information, contact Christy A. Groves, University Libraries' Head of Access Services, CGroves@bsu.edu or (765) 28503330.



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