Tuesday, 15 November 2011


Only in a library context could we talk about ILL without thinking about sickness!  That is just a quirky aside that has stuck me during my long library career!

After my post on Monday someone added a comment which read in part,  
 "... can the public place their own ILL requests? Will the loan period still be two weeks? Is there a limit on how many ILLs you can have at time? Even though there will be an increase in ILLs I think it will be a great improvement for our customers. Especially those with special needs who currently have a small collection to access."

I know that so many of us are keen to learn more about exactly how the consortium will impact on every aspect of our jobs.  And I am keen to provide that certainty to you.  However it will take some time for the whole network to go from establishing the broad principles to then articulating what this will mean for specific rules within the system.  The Transitional User Group is working on behalf of the network to set the broad parameters first, and then it will look at some of the specifics like loan periods & limits etc.  The group may recommend that some of these detailed rules be set at the local level, or they may recommend that these become standardised.

So at the moment I cannot tell you whether ILLs will have a 2 week loan period or whether there will be a limit to how many requests each customer can make.  This will be something to be considered by the User Group at some stage.  

However I can tell you that customers will be able to directly place their own ILL requests.  They will be able to do this both in the library and also remotely 24/7.

Yes - it is likely that there will be a significant increase in ILLs, but the staff workload to satisfy each request will be significantly reduced.  Imagine - no more P2 requests and answering these requests.  No more adding short bib records to circulate the ILLs to customers. The process will be  part of normal daily work - retrieving items from the daily "pick list" and placing some on your local "holds" shelf while others go in the black boxes destined for customers in other libraries.  And when the black box arrives, items will be "wanded" onto the LMS which will trigger an SMS to the customer to say the item is available, with no further work by library staff such as creating short bib records to circulate the item etc.

Oh - and I wonder if these transfers will really be thought of as an ILL i.e. an Inter-Library Loan.  Or will they just be a "hold" or "reservation" of any copy within the system.  Many "holds" will be filled by stock within the local library's collection, with other requests going off to other libraries.  The customer wont mind where it comes from, but will be delighted to receive it.
So with these changes we wont need a specialised P2 ILL role, as customers will place their own "holds" - or any staff member can do this for customers.  And many staff can share the load of finding items on the shelves, sending them to requesting libraries, and putting them on the "holds" shelf ready for the customers.

I should also point out one piece of functionality that I know is in the "holds" area is the ability to put an end date on reservations.  i.e. if this hold cannot be satisfied by XX date please cancel the hold.  I think that this will be feature that we will need to heavily promote & it may cut down on many many unwanted items being shipped around the State.

And speaking of SMS alerts - as I was a few paras earlier, for those of you who are sending printed notifications of holds being available this will change both your business processes and your costs. A TXT message is instant, and alerts the customer who may be in the vicinity, rather than them having to wait for the post to arrive in a couple of days.  And TXTs cost less than 20c compared to a 50c stamp and then the stationery costs. 

The system also provides for email alerts too.  Each library can decide the method of notification for each individual customer whether the alert will be TXT, email or snail mail.

And yes - think of those with specific interests.  They will be able to search for, and access items in their area of interest from collections across the State. This may relate to a personal hobby, or searching for all the books written in Polish in the collection.

Instant customer access to over 4M items will be one of the changes which will both transform the customer experience and also ensure that libraries continue to be valuable and valued by the community. And then there is the instant access to online content through the LMS - but I will save this for another discussion!

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