ILL Committee Liaison Report--Library of Congress

Library of Congress Liaison Report
RUSA MOUSS Interlibrary Loan Committee
ALA Midwinter 2002 - New Orleans

Best Year Ever for ILL (almost)

Last year the Library of Congress received 56,000 interlibrary loan requests from US libraries - more ILL requests than ever before in history. Unfortunately, that statistic is somewhat inflated because it includes a large number of unanswered and duplicate requests. In July we changed our OCLC protocols to accept requests directed to "DLC" in addition to the less public Loan Division symbol of "LCL." Immediately we had a flood of requests from new borrowers who didn't know we had an "enter my symbol five times" policy, and so a lot of requests bounced back and forth before this got sorted out. In the end, we lent 33,000 volumes, which is right in line with demand in recent years. The good news is that more libraries are aware that LC (aka DLC) is a lender.

Mail Delays

On the less cheerful side, the Library of Congress has not received mail via the US Postal Service since October 17. The Library's mail, along with all Congressional mail, is being sent to Lima, Ohio, to be held for treatment as a precaution against anthrax. Letters and flat envelopes are being irradiated, but boxed materials and jiffy bags cannot be irradiated because the process creates extreme heat and also causes physical damage to microfilm, CDs and tapes. Therefore, all boxed materials, including returning ILL books and microfilm, will be stockpiled and delivered to an as-yet-unbuilt processing facility near Washington where they will be x-rayed, opened, and vacuumed to ascertain no anthrax spores are present I the packages.

This is a long story to explain that if you returned a book through the US Postal Service, it is still sitting in Ohio and isn't likely be cleared from your account until at least the end of January. Books returned via UPS, FEDEX and other express services are being received regularly and are clearing without problem. If you receive a message that your account is suspended because of a book you returned via the Postal Service, please e-mail or call 202-707-5441.

Digital Delivery

We have now "delivered" more than 100 non-circulating pamphlets and fragile books requested on interlibrary loan by scanning these items and making them available over the Internet. Once scanned, the digital images of these books and can be found either by linking from the items' cataloging in the LC web OPAC or by selecting the title from the Loan Division's ILL website ( The goal of this pilot program is to explore the workflow requirements for on-demand scanning and the creation of permanent archival files in response to access requests for non-circulating material.

Due Dates and Warning Notices

The Library of Congress has a 60-day loan period. At the end of this time, if the book has not been checked in at LC, your circulation account is suspended until it is. For years we've sent out a warning notice at the end of 30 days explaining the drop-dead meaning of the 60-day due date, but we've learned that most borrowers found these notices an irritant because often the book had only recently arrived. We've now changed the notice schedule so the warning is sent 14 days before the book is due. We hope this reduces unwanted messages.

"In-Library-Use Only"

Earlier this year we reviewed our policy of "in-library-use only" in response to several inquiries. We decided it was a good policy, based on comments both internal and external, and restated it on our ILL web page. For those who may have missed this discussion and the message on ILL-L, the policy as found on the website is as follows:

The Library of Congress lends books to other libraries on the premise that they be used only within the borrowing library. This is consistent with LC's own policy which prohibits readers from removing books from the LC reading rooms (except for Congressional use). The policy is also intended to protect borrowing libraries from the negligence of one patron, since one overdue book can suspend all loans to a particular institution.

Organizational Change at LC

Later this year the Loan Division, which has performed the Library's circulation and lending services since 1944, will merge with the Collections Management Division, which manages the Library's book collections. The intention is to provide a single organizational entity which will handle all requests for items in the collection, whether the request is from a member of congress, an interlibrary loan client, a reading room patron, or an LC staffer. We believe these changes will produce a more efficient workflow and capture the spirit of "best practices" that evolved from the ARL-sponsored North American Interlibrary Loan & Document Delivery project. The new division will be led by Steve Herman, now chief of the Collections Management Division. The person with direct responsibility for ILL has yet to be named.Chris Wright, chief of the Loan Division, is leaving ILL after 20 years to take a new assignment with the Library's foreign language divisions as assistant to the Director for Area Studies.

-- Chris Wright, December 2001

January 3, 2001
Kenneth Niles
Head, Collection Access Section
National Library of Medicine
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20894
(301) 496-5511

Summary Highlights of Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery at the National Library of Medicine for FY 2001


DOCLINE, NLM's automated interlibrary loan request and referral system has enjoyed a successful year. The web-based system, first released in July, 2000, was enhanced by two releases in 2001, each with a wide range of highly requested new features including:

  • Completion of all SERHOLD reports and union lists
  • "Contact NLM and Contact Your RML" forms to send messages and problem reports directly to NLM or to the Regional Medical Libraries (RML)
  • The ability to resubmit retired requests without reentering data
  • "Web" as a delivery method for requests
  • Compliance with the Priority 1 Section 508 standards of the Rehabilitation act of 1998.

NLM has, however, received many additional suggestions for improvements to the DOCLINE system. The DOCLINE Interface Review Team was formed for the purpose of reviewing the GUI and changing some design features of the system. The Team is comprised of four representatives from the RMLs and members of NLM's DOCLINE group. Ultimately, the efforts of this Team should improve the usability of DOCLINE, and improve the organization of DOCUSER data. Enhancements to the DOCUSERUpdate module will be the first to be implemented. Users can expect to see some improvements across the system in late Spring of this year.

DOCLINE Network Use

There are now 3,269 libraries using the DOCLINE system. Libraries input a total of 2.92 million requests in FY2001, a 2.3% decrease from the 2.99 million input in FY2000. This continues the decline that started in FY2000, the first seen since the DOCLINE system was first implemented in 1985. As was noted last year, this likely reflects the growing availability of journals electronically. Loansome Doc requests, however, showed a 2.3% increase over FY 2000 with a total of 854,728 requests for the year.

On September 28, 2001, Internet Grateful Med was retired. Since April 1996, IGM has provided a user-friendly, Web-based interface to many of NLM's information resources. Most of the unique data previously available in the specialized databases via IGM has been transitioned to PubMed, Locatorplus, or the NLM Gateway meeting abstracts database.

ISO/Interlibrary Loan Protocol

NLM has been beta testing the ILL protocol with a select group of vendors including RLG's ILL Manager, Clio, Fretwell Downing and OCLC. When fully operational the "Protocol" will allow DOCLINE libraries using other protocol compliant ILL systems like those from EPIXTECH, OCLC, RLG and VDX to access DOCLINE from any one of those systems. DOCLINE will conform to the Protocol in all major aspects, but will not support the RETURNED message or any of the following messages: Recall, Checked-In, Overdue, renew, Renew answer, Lost, Damaged and Message. NLM will, however, complete the programming to send the appropriate Status or Error Report message in each of these instances.

Interlibrary Loan

This fiscal year NLM responded to 338,627 interlibrary loan requests. This represents a 13.6% decline from FY 2000. However, in the last quarter the number of requests increased 8.5% over the same period in FY 2000.

This year there was a 16% increased demand for electronic delivery of articles. NLM delivered 52% of articles by email, Ariel or fax in FY 2001. The remaining requests were delivered by mail, except for 3% by pick-up.


The National Library of Medicine will support a pilot project with the University of Connecticut to implement an electronic billing system. The system will be based on the Electronic Fund Transfer System (EFTS), developed by the University of Connecticut. EFTS is an electronic billing payment system between health sciences libraries for interlibrary loan transactions.

The pilot project will be supported by an NLM contract with the Lyman Maynard Stowe Library at the University of Connecticut beginning in January 2002. If the project proves viable, it is anticipated to be fully self-supporting within three years. This electronic payment system will be an Internet-based program and its services will be fully available in all eight regions of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine and in all fifty states. Potential participating libraries will be surveyed for their requirements and expectations.

EFTS is already used in the several regions in the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. It operates similar to a credit card system. Each transaction is handled individually and separately. Billings and credits appear just as multiple transactions would appear on a credit card statement. A basic principle behind EFTS operations is that the reciprocal of a loan is a borrow. Consequently, only net loaning libraries send to UCHC a floppy disk or an FTP file of their monthly transactions to EFTS. All participating libraries receive a monthly statement based on the data submitted by net loaning libraries. Currently there are 600 participating libraries in EFTS. Of this number, less than 10% submit monthly update files.

Prospective participants enroll in EFTS by placing funds on account to cover the cost of their transactions for at least 90 days. Borrowers' accounts are debited; loaners' accounts are credited. Net loaners receive payment equal to their quarterly net balance. As envisioned, NLM will provide funding to support development of EFTS as a billing system for health sciences libraries nationwide, reducing or eliminating billing as a barrier in library resource sharing.

Document Delivery for Electronic Journals

While NLM has made a great deal of progress with delivery of articles in electronic format to patrons onsite at the Library, there has been little change in the process for delivery of these items for interlibrary loan. For patrons onsite, NLM currently provides access to over 1,000 items available electronically, including over 800 journals. For interlibrary loan, NLM continues to fill requests for items in electronic format from the print equivalent, where it is easy to determine the exact citation. Otherwise, these articles as well as articles that exist only in electronic format are printed off and processed for mail delivery. NLM continues to investigate a system to automate the process of linking citations to the e-journals and delivering articles electronically.

Reference and Customer Service

Reference and Customer Service responded to over 137,000 requests in FY2001. Onsite requests totaled 51,287, with no significant change over FY2000. Remote requests totaled 85,844, with an increase of 36% over FY2000. Staff completed five Current Bibliographies in Medicine and made them available on the NLM website. Internet users requested over 800,000 CBM pages in FY2001.

Because of the increase in e-mail borne viruses in the fourth quarter, "junk mail" became the top offsite inquiry category with 33% of the 31,000 e-mails and phone calls in FY2001, followed by Reference Questions (17%), PubMed (8%), Document Delivery/ILL (6%), Database Quality Control (5%) and Loansome Doc (4%).

International Libraries

Libraries in Norway and Denmark have been given DOCLINE access to support users of PubMed: The Danish National Library of Science and Medicine, Copenhagen University, and the University of Oslo Library of Medicine and Sciences. This brings to 40 the number of libraries using DOCLINE and/or Loansome Doc outside of the US and Canada. There are now 288 libraries in Canada using DOCLINE. Discussions are underway with the Centro de Información para Decisiones en Salud (CENIDS), NLM's International MEDLARS Center in Mexico, concerning the possibility of their coordinating use of DOCLINE by major medical libraries in Mexico. Border libraries in Region 5 have expressed their desire to include selected medical libraries in Mexico with whom they currently do interlibrary loan. As a first step, CENIDS has agreed to become a Loansome Doc providing library to partner libraries in Mexico. Expansion will continue to enable libraries throughout the world to efficiently obtain articles cited in MEDLINE.

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