This is a proposal—an idea—I wish to share. It is my hope to see it implemented it.To start out, I would like to share three hypothetical, but familiar, scenarios:Images:Man: http://www.flickr.com/photos/drjimiglide/2219488340/Woman, beach: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lucas3d/3524600546/Woman, earrings: http://www.flickr.com/photos/xingty/3276661006/in/set-72157594210055010/
Scenario 1: Carl saw that his local library had all copies of the newest crime-thriller checked out. He put in an interlibrary loan request but received a cancellation notification a week later because the item was newer than six months old.
Scenario 2: Jill wants a popular literature title as a High School English teacher. She needs the copy for her research but her library only has five copies of the title. All are checked out to other users and there is a list of 30 holds in the queue already.
Scenario 3: Yeong-hwa tried to get a copy of the new book from a local writer from her local library; they were all checked out. She tried ILL but since the title is only of local interest, no other library owns it.
What do they all have in common? The library they went to didn’t have the item because it was too popular or too new to get.Ann arborlibrary image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jhoweaa/327651705/
So what are the options? 1) Put their name in the holds queue and wait potentially for months for a copy to be available. The issue with this is by the time they get their copy the urgency which led them to the library is negated in many cases. 2) Go to another library if they are affiliated with more than one.Most users can only be affiliated through one public library. Those academics who also have access to a school library might have more luck. However, even going to another library is problematic in that their holdings are likely all checked out also.3) Go to a local bookstore or online book vendor and order a personal copy.This is acceptable only to those who have the finances to do this. It is likely that those who come to the library first are those who either would not or could not purchase the item themselves.4) Continue to try ILL with mixed results.It is so hit-and-miss when it comes to these popular or too new titles.5) Ask someone they know. This is problematic also, though, because they have their own unofficial holds queue because their neighbor wants to read it, their best friend gets it after that, then it goes to their brother-in-law.
In libraries we have a mantra that the user has “no dead ends.” In other words, that the user gets the information they need—that the end of a reference transaction is never, “Well, I’m sorry; I just can’t find anything.”These too new or too popular requests are one of the few acceptable “dead ends” in libraries. As ILL librarians we shrug and sing our own version of “Que Sera Sera,” moving on to the next request.Dead end image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/deapeajay/1419451431/Yes we can image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/letscher/3005392483/
Before continuing, I want to make clear that my proposal hinges on two large assumptions:Assumption 1: Librarians all want to get what the patron needs, whatever that ends up meaning (e.g., purchase, lend, ILL).Assumption 2: We know that cancelling a request actually does save money since we don’t spend any more staff costs to process a request, we don’t pay any lending fees, and we don’t pay any other fees, like postage, to complete the request. Even though we know that it costs more money to fill a request than to cancel it, I am assuming that we would rather have a fill then save money through cancelling.
With those two assumptions, let’s go back to our four basic options for the too new or too popular items in our library. Putting it on hold, going out and buying a copy, try another local library, or try ILL again. I think we would all agree each of these options is not the greatest but it is the best we can do, right?
Right now, this is what traditional ILL looks like. Carl puts in a request at his library, the library then sends requests to other libraries to see if any would be willing to lend. The same is true of Yeong-hwa and Jill.
What if, before going to other libraries, we went to our local users? What if Carl, Yeong-hwa, and Jill were all able to get their books from each other, with the library facilitating the exchange? What if we, as the library, knew that Yeong-hwa had a copy of a book that Carl just requested, and we asked her if she would be willing to loan it to us, in order to fill Carl’s request? That is the basic concept of Patron-to-patron Lending: patrons filling other patron’s requests.
Why is this possible today? 1) Our users are already doing this type of exchange. Bookcrossing, PaperBack Swap, BookMooch,Goodreads, and many other book-lover social networks are facilitating an exchange of books between private individuals.
2) The titles that are most owned by private owners are exactly the kind of titles we as libraries have a difficulty keeping up with holds queues and filling ILL requests for. It is a huge untapped resource, as most of these titles, after the user reads them, sit on their bookshelves gathering dust. Why not get those books back into someone else’s hands—get it read again?
3) These titles are relatively cheap and easily replaced. 4) But the main reason: we could actually fill these requests with less library expense and end up with a fill rather than a cancellationMoney image originally uploaded by flickr user AMagill
Now, whenever I share this idea with other librarians they bring up some complications. [Justice Scales image originally uploaded by flickr user Mark McLaughlin] [wristwatch image originally uploaded by flickr user tew][lock image originally uploaded by flickr user Darwin Bell]
1) Is it legal? No legal advice today. You talk to your lawyers, but I spoke with our copyright people and they contacted colleagues around the country. No legal issues from their point of view. Again, you need to open a dialogue with your own institution’s copyright office and licensing lawyers.Copyright: under fair use there are four keys to remember:
2) Time-consuming? Set up would take some time, but after the initial set up, each request would not be more than just the extra basic search of your users? As far as touching the request, even in ILLiad and other ILL systems, you have to do a certain amount of mediation as a borrower.Maintenance would need to be done manually so that is a consideration.
3) User privacy.No reason a borrower would know it was filled by a private user unless that user had their name written in all their books…we don’t recommend loaning those books
4) Lost or damaged or way overdue?What happens when our users damage or lose our book? We charge them to replace it. This is an identical situation. What if the book is irreplaceable? They should not have lent it.Stain image: flickr.com/photos/40365388@N00/1755880160
5) Who will do it?Incentives are a must. No one will do this without compensation. So, how do we compensate them? We will talk more about this later.
6) User transiency – they move but they also might sell the book or lose it.Users volunteer their email in order to participate. Essentially, they need to just email us to remove their email from the database if they want to stop receiving our emails, or if their holdings change.
ARL in 2002 shared that the average cost of a mediated ILL request was about $27, $17 on borrowing, $10 on lending. 60% of the borrowing cost was for staffing. That means $7 was for borrowing fees from the lending library, supplies, and shipping costs.1) So on the borrowing side, one of the benefits is we would save on shipping and borrowing fees2) We would also relieve lender costs save essentially $10 every transaction because the lender does not have to do anything—really, the borrowing library becomes the lender but what does the lender do? Pulls the book, sends it to the borrowing library, and marks the request as sent. They then must process the book when it comes back in. In the P2P world, the library would only need to notify potential lenders as part of this lender cost; once the book actually came back in, it is essentially a borrowing function from then on: notify the borrower the item has come in; check out to user; check back in and notify lender that it is ready to be picked up again.With the added staffing preparation for the new system, you may not be saving the full $17 but it does not eat up all of that savings either. That is where you pull the budget for incentives—from the savings on each of those requests.3) We are also relieving pressure on lender holdings because now they don’t have to send us a book that their users want, too. 4) Likewise, We can coordinate our user lender holdings to relieve pressure on local holds queues.ARL numbers: http://www.arl.org/bm~doc/illdd.pdf
5) We are also Relieving pressure on our collection development budgets to buy extra copies for stacks. We can plan ahead on some of our users lending these items to us. We end up buying half as many copies of these titles and thereby free up our book budget to purchase other titles.6) Finally, a really big one for me, we can increase user loyalty by spreading that feeling that we as a library do all we can to fill requests. We create a local community of lenders and borrowers, book lovers and book chats.[heart image originally uploaded by deejay2x]
So what can we do to start this up?We first talk with our institution’s copyright office and lawyers to make sure it is a viable option for our individual institutions.
2) We need to actually create a database to keep track of all this. All we need is a spreadsheet that has a title, author, email, and usage column. Select those top 20-50 titles you know you have a long holds queue for and will for a while; add a few common ILL titles that have been requested frequently over the past few weeks.3) Next, we need to figure out how much of the ILL budget we will potentially save by doing this we should divert to incentives to encourage lending. Small amount set aside to get the database running (top 20 users?) $10 to register? $5 for drop-offs, $2 for ship-to-lender? Again, we have saved $7 in borrowing alone, to say nothing of the $10 in lending costs, minus the new database maintenance. How much is it worth to us?
4) Next, user selection. Pick a handful of users you trust who have a larger personal library. Publish to users the title and author. User emails librarian the titles they own and their preferred method of notification (email, text-to-email). So Jill tells us three she owns, and we put her email in each of those corresponding email fields. Yeong-hwa tells us her three. Carl tells us his three. If there is a request for any of those titles then we copy the entire field of emails and paste into our Bcc to preserve anonymity of lenders and send our form email with the name of the title and then the request to fill by sending a copy to our library. The first to claim they will fill gets the first chance. We send another email out to say that the request has been claimed and we will accept no more email claims. If the lender delivers, great. If they take too long, we move to the next user who said they could fill the request and ask them to bring in the title.
After this private, closed pilot, we open it up to all users. Then we make tweeks to the system and update the database as we go. We must continue to look atcirc/holds and ILL reports to determine any additions to the database; we also consider how often they have been requested from the P2P spreadsheet per year; we remove trouble lenders, and whenever we update the database we notify users of new titles in the list and if/when you remove titles. They need to know our new titles—then they can email us and let us know they have a copy and are willing to lend. They also need to know if you remove an unpopular title so they know that you will never ask them to lend it—that frees them up to sell, swap, or gift it.
Thank you for exploring this possibility with me. What are some of your thoughts?
Options<br />Put their name in the holds queue<br />Go to another library <br />Go to a local bookstore or online book vendor and order a personal copy<br />Continue to try ILL with mixed results<br />Borrow from a friend<br />6<br />
Assumptions<br />Assumption 1: Librarians want to get what the patron needs, whatever way they can (e.g., purchase, lend, ILL).<br />Assumption 2: Even though we know that it costs more money to fill a request than to cancel it, we would rather have a fill then ‘save’ money through cancelling.<br />8<br />
Options<br />Put their name in the holds queue<br />Go to another library <br />Go to a local bookstore or online book vendor and order a personal copy<br />Continue to try ILL with mixed results<br />Borrow from a friend<br />9<br />
Maintenance<br />Database updates<br />Run circ/holds and ILL reports to determine any additions to the database<br />Remove unreliable lenders<br />Remove titles that are not requested anymore<br />Notify users of new titles and if/when you remove titles<br />27<br />