ILL – At Your Service

In the Access and Acquisitions department, we distinguish between “document delivery” (digitizing and transmitting to users items from the library’s print collection) and “interlibrary loan” (getting items from other libraries, in whatever format).  This can get a little confusing, because the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) staff performs both services.  With the advent (this past year) of document delivery, ILL has, of course, widened the scope of the information delivery that it provides.

As is now known by many “around the D,” Davidson patrons can now access material that is in physical format (articles/chapters from physical books/journals in the library collection) electronically.  A request sent to ILL for these items results in ILL staff pulling the physical books/journals off the library’s shelves and scanning and delivering the articles/chapters requested.  Obviously, this conversion of format has distinct advantages for Davidson patrons: ease and efficiency of use being among the most desired, and the service has been very well received!

Once ILL receives a request from a patron, Jason Radcliffe (Library Night-Time Supervisor) and I have several automated searches that randomly search several sites on the web, looking for the article/book chapter (or book, if likely).  If we find the requested item (for example, in institutional repositories or on the open web), we send the item to the patron.  If we are unable to locate the item electronically, we send the request to possible supplying libraries (sending the request to libraries that are the fastest free suppliers) and one of these libraries sends the item to us.

If the request is for a copied item (article/book chapter) that we have in the library in physical format, the physical item is pulled from the shelves, scanned, and sent to the patron (as stated above).

The number of document delivery items that ILL has provided has steadily increased from 20-30 per week when we first started last year (and the service was limited to faculty) to 100-180 per week currently (sent to faculty, students, and staff).  These current document delivery figures reflect around a quarter to a third of all ILL borrowing requests.

With apologies for restating the obvious, Davidson patrons can now access an enormous amount of information in electronic format from virtually any “location.”  The library has purchased and continues to purchase a prodigious amount of “e-information” (mostly e-books and e-journals), both current and historical as it is digitized.  In addition, through document delivery and ILL, Davidson users can get just about any print source except complete books digitized and sent to them through the Internet in handy—and speedy—electronic form.