MOUSS Interlibrary Loan Committee

June 2003 Update from BLDSC

Electronic Document Delivery

For some time we have been looking at the possible methods of electronic document delivery. To date we have been using fax and Ariel transmission. Fax is limited in many ways not least being the quality of the transmitted image. Although fax may always have a role for urgently required items, it is not suitable for everyday use. Ariel also has drawbacks: operationally it is very difficult for us to use. (We operate at least 10 Ariel workstations and they cannot be networked.) For the receiver it is necessary to use a dedicated Ariel workstation on which the article must either be printed or processed before forwarding to the requester. This processing is a cause for concern for some publishers who are not happy that Ariel files can be made available on unsecured web servers. In fact, we are experiencing difficulties on obtaining permission from some publishers for us to be able to transmit by Ariel. Furthermore, we are not able to use Ariel for files that we hold in electronic format. There can also be firewall problems if using FTP transfer and file size problems if sending as email attachments.

In order to ensure that we are ahead of the marketplace, and to ensure compliance, we have decided to implement a system of secure electronic delivery which overcomes all of the above difficulties. The system minimises work both for all parties involved and uses a system that all publishers feel far happier with. The system uses Adobe technology to place a DRM wrapper around PDF files. The PDF files can be either be as supplied by the publisher or created by scanning printed articles. The user must user the latest version of Adobe Reader (6.0) to read the files. The security varies depending upon the rights granted by the publisher but for all files it is possible to print a single copy of the article and it is not possible to copy or forward the electronic file. Some publishers will permit the article to be stored and viewed on the machine on which it was downloaded but others will not permit this.

Because the file must be viewed and printed on the machine it was downloaded we have implemented a system of making the requester download the article from our secure server. To achieve this once the requested article is ready for delivery we send an email message containing the address of the server from which the article can be downloaded. This message can be forwarded to the requester of the article and they can download it at a convenient time. For items that we hold in electronic format we anticipate that the email message will be sent within minutes of the request being received. Requests for articles that have to be scanned will be subject to the normal processing times (currently less than 24 hours for over 80% of requests) but without the delay imposed by postal delivery.

Unlike Ariel workstations, the scanners, which use the Relais system, can be networked and this will permit a much more efficient method of operation. We will also be scanning and printing on site items for postal despatch. We plan to fully implement the system sometime in the Fall of 2003. We shall continue to support Ariel transmission but we hope that you will try out the secure delivery method and that you will agree that it has significant benefits.


Due to cost efficiencies there will be no increase in standard service prices this year and we intend to hold the current price until at least August 2004.

Furthermore, for Inside customers there is a flat rate fee of $11.00, thus giving the benefit of immediate download at a lower price than the standard service.