ILL Committee Liaison Report--Center for Research Libraries National Library of Medicine

Summary Highlights of Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery at the National Library of Medicine for the first half FY 2002


For the past six months, a small team of Regional Medical Library (RML) and NLM staff has been working together on a project to conduct a systematic review of the DOCLINE interface. The initial focus is on changing DOCUSER, the institutional records part of the system, but during the course of the next year, we will be reviewing all modules.

The specific goals of the review include:

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

Expected outcomes include a simplified DOCUSER interface to speed data entry and to eliminate the need for redundant data entry in the Contacts and Address areas, enhanced searching capabilities of DOCUSER, overhaul of the ILL charges and loan policies section, a simplified method of updating Routing Tables, and a means to allow libraries to designate their display in the MEDLINEplus Consumer Health Libraries page.


Eight libraries participated in our SERHOLD to OCLC pilot project to add, modify or delete holdings automatically in OCLC based on changes in SERHOLD. SERHOLD is the journal holdings data portion of DOCLINE which is used to automatically route requests from borrowing libraries to libraries holding the items sought. By early July this year, NLM expects to offer all DOCLINE participants who also have holdings in OCLC the ability to load their holdings from SERHOLD to OCLC. Holdings modified in SERHOLD will be automatically updated in OCLC every three months, eliminating redundant keying of data.

SERHOLD and LinkOut

NLM has developed a new programming interface between PubMed's LinkOut and SERHOLD, currently in beta testing with 77 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.

Billing - The Electronic Funds Transfer System (EFTS)

NLM is working with the University of Connecticut Health Center to implement an electronic billing system on a national basis for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) member libraries. The system will be based on the Electronic Fund Transfer System (EFTS), developed by the University of Connecticut. EFTS is a ILL transaction based electronic billing payment system that operates between health sciences libraries.

EFTS has been operational since 1996 in New England and is now used in four other NN/LM regions. The plan includes expanding the system to include NLM billing data for DOCLINE libraries. EFTS provides monthly detailed transaction reports, the ability to handle differential charges such as additional rush or fax charges, the ability to vary charges to members of special groups, and the ability to handle non-DOCLINE transactions. NN/LM members of all types and sizes have found that it reduces the administrative costs associated with billing and paying for ILLs.

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.

More information about this can be found at this website:

ISO/Interlibrary Loan Protocol Interoperability Testing

During the past year, NLM has tested the ISO/ILL Protocol with three vendors:

  • RLG's ILL Manager
  • Fretwell-Downing's VDX system
  • In April 2002, NLM began testing the protocol with OCLC. NLM's implementation of the ILL protocol with OCLC will allow DOCLINE users who do not have an ISO/ILL compliant system to send unfilled requests to OCLC from DOCLINE. From that point, the user will manage the request from OCLC.

NLM continues, however, to experience communication problems when testing, which is a major factor in the delay in any planned release for the protocol.

Electronic Delivery of ILL

Electronic delivery continued to grow in the first half of FY02 and comprised 62% of the requests filled compared to 38% for mail and pick-up delivery. Requests delivered electronically break down as: 42% Ariel, 6% fax, and 14% e-mail.

Document Delivery for Electronic Journals

There is little change in the process for interlibrary loan delivery of articles in electronic format. For onsite patrons, NLM provides access to over 1,134 items available electronically with 696 of these items available for use to fill interlibrary loans. 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 is investigating a system to automate the process of linking citations to the e-journals and delivering articles electronically.

PubMed Central

A pilot project was launched in March to do high volume scanning of back issues of journals currently in PubMed Central. PubMed Central is a digital archive of life sciences journal literature, developed and managed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at NLM. PubMed Central is a free and unrestricted database, which serves to preserve and maintain open access to the electronic literature. More information about PubMed Central may be found at:

The project will involve obtaining back issues for over 50 titles, some dating back as far as 1840. Issues will be guillotined and fed through a high-speed scanner. Where possible, microfilm may be used in place of the hard copies. The vendor who is selected to do the job will provide TIFF images and "dirty" or unedited optical character recognition (OCR), and the NCBI staff will convert the images to PDF for optimal viewing. A Request for Quotation (RFQ) is expected to go out by the end of May 2002.

Reference and Customer Service

Customer Service requests were down 19% in the first half of FY2002 over the first half of FY2001, ending a trend of constant rise. New security measures implemented at NIH and NLM following the events of September 11, 2001, have seemingly resulted in fewer 1st time visitors to the library.

International Libraries

In February, the Holberton Hospital in Antigua was added to DOCLINE as a partner in the Medical Library Association's International Cooperation Section's "Sister Library Initiative". This program joins together the resources of many U.S. libraries and a variety of commercial establishments including publishers and vendors with two international medical libraries, one in Latvia, and the other in Antigua. Libraries serve as mentors, advocates and colleagues, providing library materials free of charge via DOCLINE, and other services and supplies as needed. Vendors have provided much needed equipment and software. NLM has provided DOCLINE training and coordinated the interlibrary loan end of the program.

There are now 48 libraries using DOCLINE and/or Loansome Doc in 39 countries outside of the U.S. and Canada. Loansome Doc is the document-ordering feature of NLM's PubMed database of indexed medical journals. International Loansome Doc users accounted for 6% of all Loansome Doc traffic in FY01, or about 51,000 requests. The heaviest users are in Germany, and in a variety of Asian counties served by the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

There are 297 full DOCLINE libraries in Canada, and 5,000 registered Loansome Doc users.

Discussions continue 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 Texas have expressed their desire to include in DOCLINE selected medical libraries in Mexico with whom they currently do interlibrary loan.

Kenneth Niles

Head, Collection Access Section

National Library of Medicine

8600 Rockville Pike Bethesda, MD 20894

(301) 496-5511


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