MOUSS Interlibrary Loan Committee

Summary Highlights of Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery at the National Library of Medicine for the first half FY 2003

DOCLINE Milestones

“10 Million Transactions and Counting” was the subject of a message distributed to the DOCLINE-L listserv. DOCLINE reached this significant milestone on March 19 by processing the 10 millionth request since the web version was first released on July 17, 2000.

Included in the message were some overall statistics for a 40-day period in DOCLINE:

Final Action of DOCLINE Requests:

  • 91.24% were filled
  • 3.12% retired as Beyond Routing Map (not held by any library where it routed)
  • 2.91% were Not Filled (Cost, Incomplete citation, Copyright, or Canceled)
  • 2.46% were Canceled by the borrower
  • 0.28% Expired

Delivery Methods of Filled DOCLINE Requests:

Delivery Method
by Network
by NLM
Ariel 19.75 % 40.83%
Email (PDF) 4.52% 23.19%
Email (TIFF) 0.44% 1.81%
Fax 10.64% 4.73%
Mail 64.03% 28.64%
Web (PDF) 0.40% 0.77%
Web (TIFF) 0.00% 0.02%

Since the July 2000 implementation of web DOCLINE, 7,944,336 requests have been completed.

  • The fill rate is 91.5%.
  • The average number of libraries to which a request routes before it is completed is 1.22.
  • 83% of requests are completed on the first route.
  • 96% of requests are completed after routing to 2 libraries
  • 4% of requests routed to more than 2 libraries.
  • 3,046 libraries report owning 1,386,125 holdings.
  • There are 52,070 unique serial titles for which holdings are reported.

The numbers illustrate the success of DOCLINE and the reciprocal ILL arrangements among all DOCLINE libraries.

DOCLINE Redesign

The web application design and usability support for a redesign of DOCUSER, the library address and ILL information module of DOCLINE, is progressing. The final screen designs for DOCUSER along with the style guidelines were delivered to NLM on February 28.

The specific goals of the redesign include:

  • Improved usability overall
  • Adding requested enhancements received from user feedback
  • An improved HELP system. NLM has selected RoboHelp Office to produce a new Help system.

International Libraries

In early March, letters of invitation to join DOCLINE were sent to selected libraries in Mexico, following the 1.5 release of DOCLINE, which added Region 21 for Mexico. Ten libraries have joined and they will now be able to add holdings to SERHOLD, enabling them to share resources among themselves and border libraries in Texas and other U.S. libraries agreeing to reciprocal borrowing with Mexico.


NLM has successfully completed the SERHOLD to OCLC Batch Update pilot project, which tested the exporting of serial holdings data from DOCLINE and importing it into OCLC. The pilot project was conducted from November 2001 to April 2003 with 8 libraries who participate in both DOCLINE and OCLC. NLM plans to perform the first production data export over the July 4th weekend.

For DOCLINE Frequently Asked Questions on this topic, see or contact NLM Customer Service at

SERHOLD and LinkOut

In October, the ability to include SERHOLD data via the LinkOut feature was made available to all DOCLINE libraries. LinkOut is a feature of PubMed that is designed to provide users with links from PubMed and other Entrez databases to a wide variety of relevant web-accessible online resources, including full-text publications, biological databases, consumer health information, research tools, and more. The SERHOLD/LinkOut program loads SERHOLD journal holdings data into LinkOut enabling users to verify if their library owns the volume cited in a PubMed record. Patrons can now see their library’s SERHOLD print holdings information in PubMed while they are searching from the library, home, or at the office. LinkOut for Libraries allows for the display of both SERHOLD print holdings and electronic full-text links directly from a PubMed search. LinkOut is a free service provided by the National Center for Biotechnology Information at the National Library of Medicine.

For more information, visit the LinkOut homepage at:

Or view the documentation for libraries at:

Billing – The Electronic Funds Transfer System (EFTS)

The EFTS is used by health sciences libraries for payment of interlibrary loan transactions. It centralizes this activity by electronically billing system participants, thereby reducing the number of checks needed for invoice processing.

The National Library of Medicine is working with the University of Connecticut to implement the EFTS. NLM will begin sending its billing data to EFTS in July 2003 covering the April-June 2003 billing quarter. EFTS participants will see NLM’s billing transactions in their August 2003 statement. It is expected that, after implementation of EFTS is in place in the U.S., the Canadian health sciences library community will be invited to participate through CISTI.

If you wish to become an EFTS participant, please contact Colleen Giblin at the EFTS Office, 1-866-561-5045.

ISO/ILL Protocol

NLM has continued to experience problems when testing the Protocol. Additionally, other high priority enhancements to DOCLINE have taken priority over the testing with a variety of vendors, each of which has implemented the protocol with different requirements. In an effort to learn about which DOCLINE Libraries should benefit the most from the ISO/ILL Protocol, NLM will be working with the Regional Medical Libraries to survey resource libraries in the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) to determine the ILL systems that are being used, the number of libraries using these systems, and the volume of DOCLINE requests that they are processing. The input from Regional Medical Libraries will determine the priority order for implementing the ILL Protocol with selected vendors.

Electronic Delivery of ILL

Demand for electronic delivery continues to grow, with email rising from 14% in FY2002 to 24% in the 1st half of this year and Post-to-Web from 0% in FY2002 to 1% in the 1st half of this year. Overall, electronic delivery methods accounted for 70% of the requests filled, compared to 30% for mail and pick-up delivery. Requests delivered electronically break down as follows: 40% Ariel, 5% fax, 1% web, and 24% e-mail. Ariel requests in the 1st half-year experienced a slight decline of 2% percent compared to last the fiscal year.

Document Delivery for Electronic Journals

NLM continues to improve Interlibrary loan delivery of articles in electronic format. Later this summer, journal articles available free in NLM's PubMed Central database and other free e-journal sources will be flagged in DOCLINE, notifying a requestor that the item is available free and pointing the requester to the web address for that article. Currently, there are 125 journal titles in NLM's catalog, LocatorPlus, that include "Electronic link: see PubMedCentral", in the call number field, and there are 282 journal titles that include "Electronic link: free access", in the call number field. The flag for these items in DOCLINE will display either: "article is available free at " or "article is available free at". For NLM's onsite patrons, NLM provides access to over 1,160 items available electronically. Due to licensing restrictions, only 170 of these items are being used to fill interlibrary loans. NLM continues to fill requests for items in dual formats, electronic and print, from the print equivalent. NLM continues to investigate systems to automate the process of linking citations to the e-journals and delivering these articles electronically.

Reference and Customer Service

Total reference questions increased 16% when compared to the second quarter of 2002. Onsite use declined 9%, while remote reference increased 45% and total year-to-date use increased 11%, when compared to the same period in the previous year. One explanation for the increase in remote reference questions is the "Contact NLM" link recently placed at the point of need when users are unable to find the topic they search in MedlinePlus, the NLM consumer health database.

In February NLM implemented Native Minds, software for a virtual customer service representative, adding the automated customer service agent “Cosmo” on the "Contact NLM" Web page. This automated service, which is programmed by reference librarians, was able to answer about 50% of the natural language inquiries it has received.

The availability of information on the Internet and increased security measures at NIH may contribute to the decrease of onsite use at the Library.

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