Friday, February 01, 2008

Small ILL Question

Unfortunately I have nothing to entertain you with today. I have a couple of hot topics in mind, but not enough time to write them up, so they'll have to wait until next week, but they'll be worth the wait. Trust me. Have I ever let you down before? Don't answer that. The important question for today is, have you ever let me down?

I was reading back through the lifelong learning comments and had a question for all you librarians and library users out there. In public libraries, is ILL typically free? I don't mean borrowing books from libraries within a particular system, since some systems are better than others. If you're in Ohio you'll have better luck than you might in other places. I mean borrowing books that might not even be in your state, especially scholarly books that might not be in many public libraries. Is that normal and free now (at least to the patrons) the way it usually is in academic libraries these days? Or do patrons usually have to pay special fees for harder to get items?

I'm trying to clarify my thinking both on lifelong learning and access to certain types of information for library patrons, and this would help. The comments on distance learners depending more heavily on public libraries didn't surprise me, but I hadn't thought much about it. If the books necessary to support all sorts of scholars, from the distance learner to the independent scholar, really are available for free through public libraries if you can wait for ILL, then I might have to revise some of my opinions.

Thanks in advance for any answers I get, and have a great weekend.

85 comments:

Canadian Girl said...

In our Canadian city public library, an ILL will cost you $2 per item. There are restrictions on the types of items: no CDs, DVDs, no book published within the last year or already available in our collection.

Ed Crank -- Librarian said...

Yes, indeed, in my local public library system all ILL is free, not just items from other libraries in the same collective, but from anywhere.

But,

(there is always a but, isn't there)

the public library system never advertises the fact that you can get material this way, you have to know the service exists, i.e. if you go to them wanting material about X, YOU have to have the citation and location of the material you want. They will not find it for you. If you don't have everything for them on a platter, they will not do it for you and will deny that ILL exits.

I am sure some public librarians are going to answer back, "Not so in our system." Well bully for you. I wish I lived there. Thank god I am a librarian or my wife and kids would never get the material they need to do research, the public librarians here are just marking days on the calendar until they can retire with a cushy municipal pension.

Anonymous said...

I'm in South Carolina. Two of the public library systems I've worked for charge $1.00 to patrons for ill. The system I'm currently with provides ill for free. However, there's always the possibility that the lending library will charge a fee. I don't think that generally happens, though.

Hedgehog Librarian said...

I can order pretty much anything in Wisconsin without a fee through a state wide consortium agreement but out of state might require a charge.

I worked for another major metropolitan public library that also did not charge--and we got a few strange requests for obscure mathematics books and things. They wouldn't, however, interlibrary loan something like romance novels. It was restricted--but I never quite figured out what exactly the policy for requesting something was.

The library I grew up in charged (at least then) if there was a fee by the lending library.

smaileh said...

In our library, a Dallas suburb system, we charge the patron for the return postage which winds up between $1 and $2 per book.

Anonymous said...

Fees depend from library to library, but the fees don't seem designed to bring in money, they are more to discourage people from abusing the system and requesting 30 books at one time that won't be read.

I have yet to learn of a library that makes ILL inaccessible to anyone through fees. The fees (sometimes $1 or $2) tend to be lower than the postage to mail the book, and if you were recently unemployed or otherwise out of luck you could probably talk your way out of paying that.

There's a network called LVIS, Libraries Very Interested in Sharing.

I've found that academic libraries at wealthy, private colleges are happy to loan their materials to public libraries for free through the ILL system as a courtesy. It increases their statistics, improves community-college relations, and they have sufficient cash on hand to contribute to the education of the populace so they do it by lending their books through ILL.

Deborah said...

Both public libraries I have worked at don't charge for ILL.

Amanda (the librarian) said...

I used to work for the second-largest library system in Washington state. They don't charge for ILL, nor do they pass on the lending library's fees, unless of course one loses or damages the borrowed materials.

There are items they won't request - see http://www.sno-isle.org/page/?ID=1941

GrayjayDeb said...

In our Big City, Alberta, Canada Public Library ILL's are free. The library will do their best to get what you request (no music, movies or new items).

We also have a provice wide program called "The Alberta Library". TAL has a combined OPAC that lets you search most public, government and academic libraries in the province in a single search. You can then request the library to bring the item in, or you can get a TAL library card that allows you to borrow items from any TAL library in the province. I often use the TAL card when I'm travelling to peruse local materials and use their internet connection to check email.

Anonymous said...

Our library system ILLs for free, but if the item is not picked up, the patron is charged $5 to offset costs. They're also charged $.50/day overdue.

Anonymous said...

I work at a medium sized public library in Virginia and we don't charge for ILL but do occasionally pass on the fees from the lending library (I've only seen it twice in 7 years). We also make it pretty easy to request an ILL, all we really need is an author name and/or title.

Anonymous said...

I'm in South Carolina. Two of the public library systems I've worked for charge $1.00 to patrons for ill.

The academic libraries in SC don't charge; they have a statewide consortial borrowing agreement.

Talking Books Librarian said...

No charges for ILL here - on another note, a reference to a related discussion is here (do libraries charge for placing items on hold?):

http://talkingbookslibrarian.blogspot.com/2008/01/charging-for-holds-and-allowing.html

Kristen said...

The public library where I live now charges $2 per item for ILL.

The last place I lived, ILL was free but there were restrictions. You could basically only ILL prose. No multi-media and no comics (the kind compiled into a paperback, not individual issues). The comics restriction was added while I lived there. Too much theft.

At about the same time (2003?), they eliminated online ILL requests. You had to come to a branch to submit a request. Because too many people were apparently impulse-ordering and never actually picking the stuff up.

Anonymous said...

So, Kristen, if I requested Maus I would be denied.

Sad.

Nathan said...

I'm in the Twin Cities, MN. and my wife was able to get a book from Concordia-Mequon (university) near Milwaukee, WI. sent to her for free.

John Klima said...

I think you have your answer, but I'll chime in and say that working in Bettendorf, IA as a part of the PALS system (Northern IL and Eastern IA, almost 300 libraries) there is little you can't get.

However, if there is something that is not in the PALS system (one patron is reading a series of Romance/Harlequin books which are typically not cataloged so we don't know who in the system has them) it costs $1 an item.

And of course, the lending libraries set their policies, so getting media (DVD and video) can be difficult. We would lend out Maus to you.

public librarian said...

I handle ILL at a small Wisconsin library. We don't charge anything for ILL in order to comply with state law. Patrons cannot be charged for ILL (it would be illegal for us to do so), but individual libraries can limit their service to borrow only from free lenders. Some libraries cannot afford to borrow for a charge, and since it's illegal to pass the charge onto the patron, they have to limit their service.

We will borrow for a charge in certain circumstances (only for books, and they must be out of print and impossible for the patron to obtain, and the charge cannot exceed $25), but otherwise we only borrow from free lenders. We also don't go outside of the country. We tried borrowing from Canada once, and it was too much of a pain to deal with shipping. We won't pay more than $20 return shipping either.

The only formats we won't borrow are LPs and Laserdiscs, due to shipping concerns. We borrow books, books on tape, books on CD, music cassettes, music CDs, VHS movies, DVD movies, microfilm, and we'll get photocopies of articles and reference materials.

Our other restriction is a 50/year request limit per patron. Given that within the first two weeks of this year one of our patrons submitted 45 of his 50 requests for music CDs he wants to copy, I'm all for this limit. I can't handle more than the ~800 requests made per year, given all of my other job responsibilities. I've only had one person reach the limit each year and one or two others get close with 40+, so the limit isn't a burden for most patrons.

I can also buy an item instead of borrowing from another library, which costs us more, but makes sense for items that will be of interest to multiple patrons. So in some cases, we're able to fill a request by buying that we might not have been able to fill if we only borrowed from other libraries.

Requesting an ILL is easy. We need the patron's library card number and whatever info they know about the item, which is sometimes next to nothing and requires a lot of research on my part. They can come in and fill out a form, call us, or do it online.

I think it's a darn good service.

Sobaka said...

My comment partly similar to Ed Crank's -

The public library charges $1 per book for ILL. BUT--

They make it difficult to request an ILL, and they make it clear that they would rather not have to provide this service.

I made 3 ILL requests before I decided it wasn't worth the bother. My experiences:

Every other circ function is available through the website, but ILL can only be requested by coming in to a branch and requesting a form to fill out. The forms are not even left in an accessible place at the circulation desk, but are kept behind the desk. When you ask for one, the librarian looks at you as if you are a tiresome troublemaker.

Once you have managed to obtain a form and fill it out, and paid your $1, you are instructed to wait for a phone call informing you that the item has arrived. The first time, I made the mistake of calling after 4 weeks to check on my item, and received an offputting reply. "PLEASE don't call us about this. We'll call you when it comes in. These things take time. After all, we have to obtain the item from outside our system." After about 6 weeks, the item came in, having traveled the vast distance of 90 miles from its home library. If I had known it was going to take so long, I would have just driven over there myself.

I ILLed two more items after that, and in each case was made to feel that I was being unreasonable in requesting this service, and the items took forever to come in. After that, I decided to give up on ILL. Very disappointing for someone who used to have full access to a large academic research library, including cost-free, hassle-free ILL.

Otherwise, the public library here is very good, but evidently they do not consider ILL anything more than an annoyance.

Ed Crank -- Librarian said...

Sobaka you must live in the same area I do.

I have even had librarians give me blank stares when I mention ILL. They tell me I have to speak to someone in technical services because they don't know what I am talking about. (and yes I do say Inter Library Loan not just the ILL jargon).

I guess they missed that day in Library School. They were too busy brushing up on their Guitar Hero Licks for the final.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. My undersized library belongs to a system with a courier service. Loans within the system are free and unlimited, and include all media. Loans from the neighboring systems are the same, just processed differently. And requests can be made online. It's not a perfect system, but I can't complain about it, after reading about the charges and restrictions elsewhere.

Susan said...

In both public libraries where I've worked (in Massachusetts) ILL borrowing outside our network is free, all formats allowed. Articles can also be requested.

To answer ed crank -- librarian, I'll always suggest ILL if the specific item requested isn't in our network, or if the topic is such that ILL might be useful. Information about ILL is on our website, and requests can be submitted online. I can show patrons how to search in WorldCat and our databases to find the citations they need, and if they have an author or title, we can do the rest.

Canadian said...

In my city's public library Interlibrary Loans are usually free, if they can get the book from a place with which they have an agreement. If they can't find it for free, they will pass on the charge to the user. When the user fills out the online ILL request form, there is a part which asks them how much they are willing to pay. You are limited to 5 book requests and 5 article requests at a time (no limit per year or anything).

At the public library where I grew up (in another province) all ILLs were free to the user. I assume that if the lending library charged a fee they would cover it (just like academic libraries normally do).

j- said...

* John Klima said... *

Grendel?

Anywho...

Many states have laws which forbid libraries to charge for ANY service. Unfortunately, these laws were enacted before there was an expensive postal system and computers to tell people that yes, Fairbanks Alaska was the only library that owned "Milk: The Deadly Poison". Such laws should be changed.

To those who complain that ILL is either unadvertised or your "librarian" knows nothing about it...the ILL department is usually housed in the darkest, dankest part of the building, so no one visits. Plus, the systems and rules of ILL are usually so intricate and convoluted, no one has the time or patience to learn how it works.

There is a real hardcore audience of kook ILL (ab)users, too, who generally make the ILL departments lives miserable by requesting all kinds of nonsense [the aforementioned "Milk" book, "The Cure For All Diseases" every single edition of "The Souls Of Black Folks" ever published, etc.)

At the ILL department for which I toiled long ago, we had users from the University up the street who apparently had used up their entire copy card [or had been banned by their own libraries] so they had us request the items they wanted at no cost to them. The university charged us 15 dollars for each and every request though, even if it was a simple 2 page copy job. 15 bucks for 30 cents worth of paper at the time--nice racket. One math faculty member in particularly abused this setup--and there supposedly wasn't a damn thing we could do about it.

So when we the library can't buy a circulating copy of the "comic book" you want [or somesuch], there's usually a reason like that behind the decision.

Liam Hegarty said...

My library does not charge for ILL, however, other libraries in our county-wide consortium do charge for items from both within and without the system. While we do not advertise ILL we do tell patrons about it if they are looking for a particular book that is not in the system. It is not uncommon for patrons to come to our library for us to do the ILL because their home library either charges a fee or the librarians are like those described by Ed Crank.

We do not get audio visual materials from outside the consortium. If the lending institution charges a fee we pass that on to our patron

T Scott said...

As a lifelong academic librarian I'm afraid I can't help with your particular question, but what I find shocking in your post is your blithe confession that you might actually revise your opinions based on acquiring new facts. How very un-21st century of you.

AL said...

That was just to throw people off their guard.

Anonymous said...

Medical librarian here, we do not charge the hospital staff ILL charges, BUT the ILL request has to get approved before being requested. We had some abuse of the privalege in the past.

I do not know if the physicians get charged, but any fees incurred by the physicians on ILL gets sent to another department.

Privateer6

Kristen said...

"(and yes I do say Inter Library Loan not just the ILL jargon)"

Speaking of which, we're officially now supposed to say Document Delivery Services instead of ILL. The theory is that ILL is too jargony and Document Delivery is much more clear to the general public. But I think the opposite is true.

One, I learned 'ILL' decades before I considered working in a library.

Two, at best Document Delivery sounds like articles-only. Even though we intend it for books as well. At worst, it's just incomprehensible.

Is this a trend somewhere that our director picked up on?

Anonymous said...

Sacramento (CA) Public Library charges $5 per item. But they recently hooked up with some service called Link+ that pools a bunch of different systems for free.

Solitude said...

The Chicago Public Library system does not charge. There may be restrictions on types of materials, but I've gotten scholarly books through them and they at least attempted to get me a dissertation.

Anonymous said...

I have never worked in a public library that charged for ILL. It's weird to even imagine that happening.

I'm now an academic librarian, and fwiw, a few years ago, I did a study of a sample of the distance ed. students which showed that they did rely frequently on public libraries for their resources. Really not that surprising to me. The tangible aspect of the physical library is important (and enables greater access to materials)for some users.

LibraryGuy said...

Here in Kitsap County (just to the West of Seattle) ILLs are free. And, as in canadian girl's system, there are some restrictions: no CDs or DVDs.
We're pretty open about offering ILLs. If a patron requests something we don't have, we encourage them to fill out a Purchase Suggestion, which can lead to an ILL. Thank goodness, too, 'cause I've almost always got an ILL in hand or on the way.

Anonymous said...

The library system I work for in suburban Twin cities offers ILL for free to customers, and we regularly offer it to customers when they request an item our system doesn't own.

Katherine said...

Here at the Palos Verdes Library District ILL is free, however we do charge fairly steep fees for late return of ILL items.

Joy said...

Ok, I've got one last strange variation not mentioned before. I worked in an academic library that charged everyone for all document delivery including copying from their own journals. BUT if they placed an ILL for a patron and it took more than a week it was free.

How this came about was they used to have Circ staff pull and copy or go place ILLs during slow times until they got too busy to fit it in. Admin. refused to OK more clerical staff to handle ILL so they instituted a per request charge for all document delivery.

Larisa said...

I've worked in two public libraries on opposite sides of the continent, but neither charged fees unless the loaning library charged a fee over a base amount (say $10-$15).

Vermont is odd, in that almost all of the public libraries are small and independent, relying entirely upon each other to loan & borrow. Having come there from an academic cataloging background I found that not having immediate access to the FirstSearch ILL interface was just plain wierd. We had to put a request for an out-of-state item to the VT State Dept. of Libraries, they sent an email back of who had copies, then I had to phone the libraries to find out who would loan it, then email or mail an ALA ILL form, etc... We should have charged considering the cost of labor involved.

Here in Washington state we are considering charging a $1 or $2 fee just to stop the requests that don't get picked up problem.

Academic libraries I've worked in before in NY & OR have considered charging a small fee for articles because there are usually stacks of a couple hundred articles requested and never picked up at the end of each term. Usually those expensive medical journal articles someone else mentioned.

Anonymous said...

I am bringing up a bill to my state that will allow libraries to start charging for ILLs.

Why?

Collection development is down and everybody is depending on one or two libraries with deep pockets to pick up the slack.

Well, the gravy train is over boys and you have to kick in a bit to get the book, dvd, cd, what ever because it costs money to process and ship.

Free ILL was thought up when there was little interaction between libraries and library systems. Today, everybody knows everybody else's business and holdings and ILL requests have shot through the roof.

Time to turn this service into a profit center.

Oh my god, I mentioned profit. I forgot public libraries do all these services out of the kindness of their heart and the depths of my pocketbook.

Peace.

Amanda (the librarian) said...

So true, anonymous at 3:54 PM. I think that's why some systems put some limits on what they'll borrow from other libraries - because they also won't lend out those same things (typically media and items less than a year old). It's really not fair to the taxpayers in larger/wealthier library systems to subsidize folks that aren't willing to shell out some tax dollars to have better collections of their own.

AL said...

This is an interesting turn in the conversation, and just when I was about to go all gooey inside.

c said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Here in Minnesota you can borrow for free from a five-state area. My library system does not pay to be part of the OCLC ILL network, so we do not go outside of this area. People can place holds on their own, although the system stops them from requesting items owned by their home system (no jumping the queues at other libraries). Many popular items are unavailable for ILL for the simple fact that these items are checked out all over. The service is so popular that it is being rethought. For instance, new software capabilities will allow libraries to moderate all requests placed by their cardholders, whether inhouse or not, to see if the material should be purchased instead. It is wonderful to be able to get items not readily available for people for whatever purpose. However, I think that people have wild expectations that can't be met - that they can get their expensive textbooks this way, and renew them multiple times, and that the materials will come in a jiffy - and that we will get them from the library system which borders us one mile away. Libraries are also having to rethink their collection policies; the state office issues a lengthy list of materials which it will not ILL - mostly popular - because libraries should be purchasing these. We limit ILLs to 20 per card at one time because the system was being abused by people who would place DAILY requests on multiple DVD titles (and each request required significant staff time at the libraries involved). Bottom line, there are many reasons why materials are being requested, and the service is undergoing constant refinement to balance out resource needs and cost constraints. I'll also add that we have a statewide database contract which really helps with leveling the playing field; those with continuing education needs may not find everything through us and our databases, but they can at least get a start. Bottom line - there is no free lunch, and there will always be abuse. But how else would I get "Gluck and the Birth of Modern Opera", I ask you?

Anonymous said...

My public library charges a minimum of $2 for an ILL which really bugs me. Our collection is poor. Most of what my children want to read (selections from various best lists) is not in our collection but I get told it is accessible to me through ILL. But at a minimum of $2 a book the way my kids read I cannot afford ILL.
This really bothers me. We are a small rural community where the majority of children live in poverty. I think the library should have a better collection and not rely on ILL or eliminate the fee.

Anonymous said...

I forgot public libraries do all these services out of the kindness of their heart

No.

Out of a sense that we all benefit from an educated citizenry.

Anonymous said...

At my dinky public library it was free unless the loaning library charged a fee, which was passed on to you.

.......But then I haven't used them in years as I've had much better results buying the very same books from Ebay, ABE Books, and other places. It's often cheaper and I get to keep the book, too.

But wait! Last time I mentioned this some indignant librarian ranted about how "crap books" were the only ones you can get that way, which must explain why the libraries selected them for their collections in the first place.

Kevin Musgrove said...

We finally moved on to free requests within our Borough's boundaries last year (and the council even agreed to reduce the income target for this service in consequence)(reduce, you'll notice...).

Anything going out to Regional Loans costs the borrower one English pound a go. That covers our admin. costs and nibbles at the edges of the income target that's been imposed on us.

Interestingly enough, all those library authorities that perform oh so much better than us are the primary customers of our Regional Loans Service.

Oh, and like all English libraries we try our best to avoid borrowing from the British Library 'cos that's very expensive indeed!

Degolar said...

We offer ILL for free and always offer that option if someone asks for something we don't have in our collection.

Anonymous said...

My public library system in south Louisiana does not charge to ILL books, movies, audiobooks or music. We only pass on the lending library's fees in the case of damaged or lost items, or occasionally for reproduction of articles.

We can only borrow AV materials from the State Library, so we don't do much of that; it's mostly books. Requests can be placed in person, by phone, or on our website.

Canadian Girl said...

Oops! Correction to my previous comment: our library does NOT charge for ILLs. We do, however, pass on any fee that the lending library charges. (I'm new, and the only ILLs I had seen had $2 charges on them so I made an incorrect assumption.) We don't charge for postage. (That I DID know.)

Anonymous said...

We do not pass any of our costs on to the patron; the patron is made aware that if the lending library has a lending fee, he will be expected to pay that.

The Brookfield Library said...

Most public libraries in CT don't charge, but our library made a decision to charge $3.50 for any out of state requests to help with postage. We've had some serious budget issues and felt that a small fee helped guarantee that the patron was making a serious request and also that the item would be picked up. And we live in a town where 99.9 percent of our customers can easily afford that charge--and if we thought it was a hardship we'd waive it.

We're happy to ILL items for patrons, and gladly share that we'll make every attempt to find what they want, hopefully in state.

punkin said...

ILL is free for the patrons

j- said...

*This really bothers me. We are a small rural community where the majority of children live in poverty. *

Yeah, um, I think I see why your library doesn't have a shiteload of hot best sellers on the shelf and also why they might not be able to afford ILL--you have no tax base to support the library.

Library Betty said...

I work at a corporate library in Illinois, we lend out our materials for free. We do have some items that are restricted by licensing agreement or too fragile to ship that we don't allow out on loan.

We get some occasional requests directly from public library patrons where the PL calls us and puts the requester on the phone. It's kind of weird -- we are in OCLC and on the courier list. I guess the PL thinks we need to hear the story behind the request.

We normally don't pay to borrow from other libraries.

Anonymous said...

Both my hometown (in a town of 1,000) and my current library (in a town of 20,000) charge for postage one way. The library pays the postage to get the item and the patron pays the postage to send it back to the lending library. The largest amount I've seen is around $4, with most books being around $1.75-2.50.

There are no restrictions on types of materials, although we do mention to patrons that very new material may be hard to get on ILL.

My current library makes ILL requests available in person as well as online.

Anonymous said...

My system does not charge for ILL's. However, you cannot ILL multimedia, textbooks, books less than a year old or books that we own just as reference items. The overdue charge is $1/day. The minimum time for an ILL to arrive is a month. In order to do an ILL, the borrower has to physically visit a library to fill out a form.I warn people that if they need the item quickly then they should not ILL it.

We do get a number of long-distance learners who use our library for research. They are generally forced to use just the electronic resources since the print material is all on a high school level. They usually cannot wait the month for the ILL to arrive.

alectoerinyes said...

My system in South Florida doesn't charge for ILLs. However, you're pretty much limited to books and audiobooks. (That may be more due to the ILL policies of other libraries rather than ours.)

Unfortunately, the ILL process in my system is not very patron-friendly. Few people know about it, and very few librarians offer it, even when an item someone wants isn't in the system.

Anonymous said...

Our system charges $2 per item. We have no restrictions on the type of item that can be requested but the publication date must be at least six months out. We limit each patron to 4 requests a week (no good reason for this except workload). Also, we do pass on lending fees to patrons, although fortunately most libraries do not charge additional fees.

The $2 fee per item certainly doesn't cover costs completely but it helps in some way and probably keeps the number of requests down considerably. If suddenly every patron began utilizing the service we'd certainly be in a budget crisis situation.

Roy Kenagy said...

Most (but not all) public libraries in Iowa do not charge for ILL. Those that do limit the charge to $1.25 or less, which is the maximum fee allowed in state regulations for recouping "postage". (The libraries are free to charge whatever they want, but if the fee goes above $1.25 the transaction will not qualify for state reimbursement.)

Anonymous said...

Ed crank,
At the public library I worked at, you did not have to give the complete citation and know who had it before making a request. They will look that up for you.

Cecily Parsley said...

In our Texas library - we cannot charge for the service, only recover costs. My central Texas library charges one way book rate postage to the patron to defray our cost to mail it back.

katie m. said...

in my local public library ILL is free but a lot of times they might tell you they can't get something-- i guess after a certain amount of trying they give up, they aren't bulldogs about it like academic library ILL depts. seem to be. my dad likes to get books on tape (really obscure ones) for his long commute and a lot of times they tell him sorry, no luck. but it is free and he appreciates the service.

i'm not sure if they are very good about offering to order things or if you have to specifically ask them to, but according to him they are always good about helping him find citations etc.

Anonymous said...

My library doesn't charge for ILL, but we don't advertise it either. Its linked from the front page of our website, but if a patron calls or comes to the desk and asks for a title that isn't in the system, no one ever says "oh, but we can get it on inter-library loan!"

the green librarian said...

Free unless the library we borrow from charges and then we pass on that charge. We try to borrow from LVIS libraries first... (Libraries very interested in sharing) and then if the patron really wants the book try to find the best deal for them. Cost effective but not always time effective.

GeekChic said...

At my former place of work (small, south TX, public library): ILLs were free unless the lending institution charged. There were no restrictions on what was asked for through ILL because we didn't limit what we'd lend. The longest that something traveled to get to us was from Spain (and it didn't cost anything).

At my current place of work (largish, Canadian public library): ILLs are free unless the lending institution charges and there is almost always a charge for articles to cover copying charges. We will not lend DVDs or bestsellers because smaller libraries in the area have tried to use us to avoid having to buy such items themselves. As a result, we don't ask for such items. The longest that something traveled to get to us was from Israel (and it didn't cost anything).

Jedi Librarian said...

Yes. ILL is free here. The due dates are set by the owning library system however, and may result in late charges applied sooner or later then our patrons are accustomed to. It's kinda complicated, and I don't pretend to understand it.

wplmom said...

Here in upstate New York an ILL is $5, no a/v material allowed. A book or other item within the county library system has a $.50 fee for delivery to the local branch.

Anonymous said...

WPLMom,
You're joking about the $.50 in-system delivery charge right? I can understand postage, fees, etc for ILL, but to get a book from another branch, Now that's ridiculous.

Privateer6

DearReader said...

We don't charge anything to ILL a book at my California public library, but we recently updated our form to ask if there is a maximum amount the patron will pay. We try to get items from libraries that won't charge, and usually we can, but every so often they ask us for a small fee. We do charge for overdue ILL items - the same rate as in-system books, $.20/day.

Amy said...

We don't charge a dime for inter-library loans, unless a)they are interstate or international ILLs *and* b)you fail to return them before they are due, at which point we slap you with an almost $200 fine. We are actually obligated to provide ILLS free of charge to receive funding and stock. It's a core service under our library framework agreement (pdf), and one that my system pushes where possible. I do interlibrary loans for my branch, and will try to get in pretty much anything from anywhere within Australia, be it held by a public library, university library, museum, archive or private collection.

Western Australian public libraries, it must be noted, have an unusual setup, partially due to our remoteness and low population density (we take up a third of the continent but host roughly than 2 million people). A large portion of the stock held by local public libraries actually belongs to the State library, who allocates it to us on a quota basis. One of the effects of this setup is that, not only are we required to offer ILL services to our patrons, but we are not allowed to deny requests from other libraries for State-purchased stock. No ands, ifs or buts. The volume of ILLs here is actually so high that we have a daily, dedicated courier run between all metro libraries.

Anonymous said...

ILL is never free.

If your system decides not to pass on the costs to the users, then it is then overhead.

Anonymous said...

Here in my SC library, if we can get it from the university or from the State Library, it's free. It's a pretty big university, so a lot of stuff is available from there. We won't ILL things like textbooks, and of course the university won't ILL things like Special Collections. If we have to go outside that network (which is in town), the patron may have fees - generally we ask them how much they'd be willing to pay (no more than 5 bucks, no more than 10, whatever) and see what we can get the item for. In other words, it depends on postage and if the other institution has a fee. We've gotten several things from UNLV on gambling, weighted dice, etc. for less than five bucks for an interested patron - they're the only available library for a lot of that stuff. I believe he fancies himself an MIT-style card counter instead of a pathetic shambling wreck, but hey, the ILL stuff is interesting at any rate.

Alex Grigg said...

"ILL is never free."

Right . . . but the cost is strictly based on time and postage. Even though I work in a corporate library which aught not to, theoretically, get subsidized ILLs from other institutions almost no one ever charges us a fee. We also had no problem joining the LVIS ILL group. So it seems that many public libraries seem to be charging to cover their own postage and staff costs, but that's strictly an institution by institution decision.

Agapetospaidiske said...

ILL is free to our patrons. We pay th cost for postage if it comes from out of state.

Anonymous said...

"ILL is free to our patrons. We pay th cost for postage if it comes from out of state."

I assume (and we all know where that might take us) that your patrons live in your community and pay taxes there.

The cost of the ILL is not a direct cost to them but they are indeed paying it.

Even if it is a system where someone can go on-line and request books from other members of a consortia and the material is delivered by courier, it is not free to the user.

Yes, of course if the person is of limited financial means, they are not paying the cost of ILL but somebody in the community is picking up the slack.

Liana said...

I'm in Nebraska, and I have gotten music scores from ILL that were unavailable anywhere. The last one was from a small college in Ohio, and the librarian told me that if she hadn't found that one, the only other one was in Germany, but they would have gotten it for me. They don't charge, and are so very nice. Our library has a musical score lending section, so that may be why they can borrow them from others.

j- said...

I forgot another one of my favorite ill-types--Cookbook Lady! You know, the one who is looking for a cookie recipe and can't remember where she saw it or exactly what was in it, but maybe it's in one of this week's stack of 25 ILL request forms.

Or Reggae Kid! You know, the freshman at the U who just did his first bong hit and now wants to rip about 8000 CDs to his HD--and the library only owns 50 Reggae CDs, because if you've heard one U-Roy song, you've heard them all.

Anonymous said...

My library offers ILL and charges patrons only if the loaning library charges a fee. And, we actually promote it!!! See our fancypants online form at https://www.biblioottawalibrary.ca/forms/formindex_e.cfm

Anonymous said...

Our library system in the Southwest started offering free ILLs about 5 years ago. Before that, it cost a buck or two per item. We don't advertise it very well at all, though.

Crook Librarian said...

Here's a question, following comment.

Every morning I look at the ILL requests and decide "buy or borrow" with a preference for buying what some other patron would likely read. Some months the buy-borrow ratio runs 50%.
Buying is often faster, and it doesn't burden other libraries. It's Amazon.com for a penny and shipping for those old BS (bestsellers) we no longer own.
(For 25 years I operated out of a tiny buy-one-throw-one building.)

We are a stand-alone system, no courier, etc -- so our requests put extra work on other libraries.

The decisions that most Annoy me are for the people who ask for new mass market paperback vampire romances. The patrons apparently go to the bookstore and get a shopping list for interlibrary loan requests. (Do some of you have a less loaded word than "Patrons?") It isn't fair to ask bigger, richer, distant libraries to ship us the mpbs, and I hate spending the money. Thus, we simply say no, using the excuse "too new" Should we cater to that demand?

minks said...

My opinion first... ILL's should be free to all patrons. Shipping however, should not be.

We charge a nominal 'just making sure you are serious fee' that is less then the shipping cost of the items. Abuse level = moderate.

Kristen said...

"The decisions that most Annoy me are for the people who ask for new mass market paperback vampire romances."

Try ordering from B&N. For some reason, they threw in complementary copies of those buggers with my last two non-fiction orders.

Anonymous said...

My University Library ILLs are Free to me. but they incur an interna charge for the library between 30-50 dollars an article. I only know this becasue sometimes the Charge was included on the order sheet.

I used to work in a research lab with about 5 Drs and about 20 other staf members - this lab was GOOD at abusing this service!!! We would be getting about 10-15 articles WEEK!

Now you are going to bless me for the next part...

I am senstive to financial constraints, and I was noticing this cost to the library. Bu thte big part was sext: my labwas about to start ordering artcies form a Russian jurnal. Not only was the total number of potential articles in teh neightborhood of 600-1200 articles, but the few pieces we had receved so far were HORRIBLY scanned. Seriously, you people managing scanner Gophers Need to do better QC!!!

Anyhow, I did the math. I didn't like the results we were getting one bit - My scanning is MUCH better, and far faster. Then I walked over to the Library and ordered the Journal volumes back to 1950 down a the Reference desk as a book request rather then a paper copy request.

I then spent the next 5 weeks of my life, 40 hours a week, with my nose to the scanner. By the end of it, I lost count between 1200 and 1500 Bound articles scanned with an average page length around 10 pages each. WOOO!!

Let's do the math, 1200 articles to 1500 articles at a cost of $30-$50 each. At the minimum, thats $36,000-45,00; at maximum, $60,000-$75,000. And imagine all the poor gphers trying to do my task, inefficiently, day end day out! there is no comparison!!

Mind Boggling!!!!

You can see the articles on Google scholar. My lab has the written expressed rights to distribute the articles online to the public for Free. And you can thank me for the scanning. But yeah...they are all most all in russin, so you will need to know how to read Cyrillic!!

So if anyone needs a good Scanner, I now charge 50 dollars an hour for my services and you must send the materials to me!

I average about 30 seconds per page scanning plus 30 seconds a page cleaning [to remove that hideous black thing around the edges]plus 1millisecond a page for ORC/PDF conversion. That comes out to 60 pages of clean, fresh PDF document per hour.

:D

Merc Kat!
[Less mercanary these days...life is GOOD!]

Anonymous said...

In Albuquerque we charge $1.00 for ILLs

Anonymous said...

Siouxland Public Libraries has free ILL. It's not a heavily advertised option but the form is right there on the website.