Posted by Lori Ayre on May 23, 2006

I recently researched trends in interlibrary loan and resource sharing and provided my conclusion in this report: Resource Sharing & Library Delivery Services.

The gist of the article is that resource sharing is changing. Formalized resource sharing arrangements are growing. Library catalogs are being unionized making unmediated borrowing between libraries possible. Users are responding positively to the improved interfaces of catalogs that allow them to easily search, locate and request items, from almost anywhere, for themselves. Resource sharing and interlending is increasing dramatically. As a result, demands on delivery services are high and likely to grow.

Materials delivery is an important yet neglected part of the process of getting useful information into the hands of users. Library delivery is usually associated with moving materials from library to library, but in the very near future it will be more important for libraries to deliver material directly to their users. Users choose convenience over quality. They don't care about the best source of information, the want a satisfactory source. An information source that is satisfactory and convenient will always be chosen over a source that is inconvenient.

Increasingly, library users expect an easy-to-use, transparent system for locating and requesting library material for delivery anywhere. They expect service comparable to Amazon and NetFlix. What users would like is to select items for themselves, specify where and when they need it and to be kept informed of the status of the requested item.

Current delivery programs suffer from their lack of integration with the circulation function. Over time, this is likely to change and circulation will include delivery into the hands of the user. Better discovery tools, resource-sharing opportunities and high user expectations are changing the needs of library delivery services. Organizations providing these services must remain agile and ready to adapt to the increased and changing demands of library users for fast, convenient, and flexible delivery.

Read the full report