DATE: September 13, 2004
TO: LINC Policy Council
FROM: The Urbana Free Library
RE: Interlibrary loan policies
On April 21, 1993, a deeply divided Automated Libraries Council voted to modify the Dynix software to exclude ³local holds,² holds for patrons of the owning library only.
This exclusion of local holds has been continued with the migration to the Horizon system. Currently, a library that takes holds on an item is required to provide it on interloan as well.
Historically, the Dynix system permitted hold restrictions by item type. These restrictions interacted with the hold parameters of each library to govern direct interlibrary loans. There were three settings for the hold parameter: no holds, holds for patrons of the owning library only, and system-wide holds.
LT policy reads, ³In order for these settings to coincide with the interlibrary loan policies of Lincoln Trail libraries, the only two settings that will be used on the system will be no holds (for item types that libraries would normally not allow their own patrons to place on hold) and system-wide holds.²
Requested Policy Change
We request that the local holds option be reinstated, and that individual libraries be able to determine which materials in their collections will be available for holds but not for interlibrary loan.
Reasons for the Policy Change
The local holds option is desirable for a variety of reasons, but the impetus for this discussion is due to the increase in hold problems under Horizon.
Benefits Specific to Horizon
1. Provides a solution to the inability to take items out of the ³transit² status in Horizon. Currently, if an item cannot be sent, it stays in ³transit,² but the user who is expecting it does not receive it.
2. Releases borrowers from being trapped in a hold queue with a ³transit² item that is not coming, when their holds might easily be filled by other available copies.
Under Dynix, if an item could not be sent, the transit status was changed immediately, and the borrower returned to the queue. In addition, if your libraryıs copy of an item in transit was checked in before the one in transit arrived, this copy was held for your borrower, who did not have to wait for the item in transit. Neither of these important options works under Horizon.
3. Gives borrowers accurate information when placing holds. Currently, the LINC database offers holds on items that are not available for interloan.
4. Prevents item-specific interloans for your materials from being filled for users of other libraries before your own patron holds. The problem occurs because Horizon fills item-specific interloan requests in preference to general interloan requests, violating the principle that local holds must take preference over interlibrary loan requests. As things now stand, it is easy for cardholders from another library to be first in line for your materials, ahead of your own cardholders, if they make item-specific requests.
5. Allows a lending library to restrict holds to match the policies of a borrowing library. With patron-placed holds, there is no way for a requesting library to place limits on formats or new items to match those that it will not lend. (We agree that brand new CDs and theatrical DVDs should not be siphoned off from the collections of other libraries to be interloaned to Urbana.)
1. Permitting local holds increases the visibility and potential for browsing in high demand items or target collections. An item usually gets most of its use while it is on new book shelves. If an item circulates from hold to hold to hold, it spends most of its time off of the new book display and is rarely seen by browsers. Once the item is moved to the stacks, its browsing and circulation potential declines.
Accommodating browsers is vital to libraries, since that is the way vast numbers of people select a high percentage of what they borrow. (Unless things are wildly different in England, an article in the 11 October 2002 issue of The Bookseller is interesting. It reports research that 72 percent of customersı decisions on which books to buy are made after they enter the store.)
Use of new materials is impressive. At The Urbana Free Library, for example, new fiction consists of 3 percent of the fiction collection but generates over 50 percent of total fiction circulation. New non-fiction is also 3 percent of the non-fiction collection, but it generates 25 percent of total non-fiction circulation. Other parts of the collection have similar use patterns.
Itıs also hard to maintain modest browsing collections on the shelf, even without interloaning new high-demand items. We recently checked the number of new items actually available for use. Of our best selling fiction, only 13 percent was on the shelf, and only 22 percent of our non-fiction best sellers were on the shelf. Of all of our new books, only 34 percent were available for use.
We are taken aback when we receive on interloan a book that has never had a chance to be put out for use in the library that lent it. How will local citizens ever know what they are getting for their library taxes?
2. Permitting local holds maximizes total circulation of high-demand items, due to the decreased time spent in transit and on the hold shelf. As long as items are borrowed almost the moment they return to the shelves, sending them on interloan wastes a great deal of their limited ³new book² time. For example, a high-demand three-day item that goes out on interloan can be gone from the home library for two weeks, reducing total use of the item by about 80 percent.
Recently we looked at 30 new items that had transit requests but which we returned to our new book shelves. Of these 30 items, 18 (60 percent) were borrowed from our new book shelves the day they returned or the next day, long before they could have reached a requesting library. Two-thirds of the items that were borrowed went to Urbana cardholders, and one-third to cardholders of other libraries. (A week later, three of the 30 items had not been checked out, but four of the items had already been returned and borrowed a second time.)
3. Permitting local holds decreases the number of items sent back and forth unnecessarily between libraries that are circulating each otherıs copies. This saves handling time at local libraries, saves time spent in transit rather than in use, and lessens the burden on the LTLS delivery system, which has been reduced for fiscal reasons.
For example, on one recent day, of all the transit requests for items on Urbanaıs new shelf, 29 percent were for items held by the requesting library. Of the new items on our hold shelf the same day that came from other libraries, 52 percent were things we owned and could have waited a few days to supply without depleting the new item collections of other libraries.
4. Permitting local holds allows libraries to maintain an assortment of interesting materials on their new book shelves and allows local library patrons see the benefits their libraries offer.
5. Permitting local holds allows individual libraries to determine when local demand has lessened enough so that materials can be lent without reducing available in-house collections to the level of bare new book shelves.
6. Permitting local holds permits school libraries to retain for local use items needed for current assignments. It also permits them to stop interloans toward the end of the school year, in preparation for inventories and school closings.
7. The policy forbidding local holds leads to confusion. Some libraries assume the policy means that everything in any libraryıs collection must be available for interloan. Libraries often tell us that (for example) that because they take holds on videos (and lend them on interloan), we are therefore obligated to interloan ours (even though we donıt take holds on them for anyone, including our own patrons).
8. Independent libraries in consortiums have different policies because their circumstances are different. For example, we recently looked at new books and items in Lincoln Trail member libraries. Some had as few as 23 percent of these items on the shelf ready for use, while others had 96 percent. Interpreting these differences and deciding policy implications seems to be a job for the individual library.
1. As far as we can determine from calling libraries in each system in the state, Lincoln Trail is the only library system in Illinois with a policy that does not allow any local holds.
2. The primary use of the local holds option appears to be to limit interloan of new and/or high demand materials. The libraries with which we spoke indicated that individual libraries in their systems determine what types of materials will be restricted to local holds and for how long. (Members of the old Heritage Trail System appear to have agreed that they would limit local holds on new books to a maximum six months.)
3. Although Lincoln Trail established its policy against local holds over eleven years ago, no other Illinois library system has followed suit.
Interlibrary loan codes
1. The LINC policy stands in opposition to the ILLINET interlibrary loan code, which specifically supports the right of local libraries to determine what they will lend on interloan. ³Interlibrary loan is a mutual relationship and libraries are strongly encouraged to supply materials as freely as they request materials The supplying library determines whether the material can be provided and in what format... Libraries are strongly encouraged to implement generous lending policies with due consideration for the needs of their primary clientele.²
2. The LINC policy also stands in opposition to traditions of interlibrary loan in the United States.
3. The Urbana Free Libraryıs interloan policy is of long standing and fully compatible with the ILLINET interlibrary code. The libraryıs policies commit the library to extensive interloan but provide that items with loan periods of less than one week or items in very high demand by local borrowers will not be lent.
Net impact of the proposed policy change
1. Each local library has the freedom to determine which parts of its collection are available for interloan, which parts are available for ³local holds,² which parts do not take holds, and which parts do not circulate.
2. ³Local hold² items can be altered to ³interloan² status whenever local library demand allows.
3. If the result is little impact on traffic, the LINC libraries gain efficiency and accurate catalog status.
4. If the result is some decrease in traffic, the benefits are reduced burden on the LT delivery system and improved browsing selections in local libraries. At the same time, access to items via interloan is not eliminated but simply delayed until local demand at the owning library is reduced.
5. Reintroducing the local holds option will allow each LTLS member library to act in accordance with its local needs.
1. Ever since Lincoln Trail was founded, The Urbana Free Library has prided itself on always filling interloan requests overnight. Historically, Urbana has been a net lender in both reciprocal lending and interloan to the great majority of libraries in LT, and we are very proud of this.
2. Of the LINC libraries, the library with the highest percentage of its total circulation devoted to reciprocal lending and interloan combined is Paxton, where 33 percent of total circulation is to cardholders from other libraries. Second is Urbana (26 percent). The other heaviest lenders include Danville (24 percent), Georgetown (23 percent), St. Joseph (21 percent), and Westville (20 percent). (Source Illinois Public Library Statistics for FY 2002-2003.) (We believe that the Champaign Public Library should be among this list of libraries, and we suspect that its published statistics may be incorrect.)
3. When we run the RPL (request pull list) each morning, almost nothing is held back because of Urbanaıs interloan policies. Almost all requests we cannot fill occur throughout the day at the time of check in, when new materials we want to return to our heavily-browsed new book shelves are requested.
4. The Urbana Free Libraryıs tax rate is the highest of any public library in the Lincoln Trail system. Urbana citizens dig deeply into their pockets to support their library, and we have to be able to justify our expenditures to them. (Urbanaıs rate is 54 cents, followed by Champaign at 39 cents and Danville at 36 cents. All other LTLS libraries tax at below 30 cents.) (Source: Illinois Public Library Statistics for FY 2002-2003.)
5. The Urbana Free Libraryıs local history and genealogy collection is funded by the city of Urbana, but over half of its use is by residents of the Lincoln Trail system who live outside the City of Urbana.