Future of Illinois Library Cooperation: Exploring Effective, Efficient Service Models

If you are interested in resource-sharing, this report is one of the most interesting studies to come out in years.  Some of the finding, particularly those related to interlibrary loan requests outside of a shared integrated library system, have broad implications across the country.  I highly recommend checking this report out at: http://ila.org/aboutila/the-future-of-illinois-library-cooperation.html.  Valerie Horton

Excerpt: “Resource-sharing is complex. Illinois has a long history of strong state-level support for shared catalogs and delivery services. But as populations grow and resources decline, new models are needed. The consolidation of regional library systems is part of this, with implications at the operational and individual library level, and a goal to minimize the impact on patrons. This study begins from the premise that the purpose of delivery is to support resource-sharing, and the findings and recommendations stem from that fundamental premise.

The sample surveys that were conducted as part of this study reported a high level of patron satisfaction with current delivery services, but the underlying assumption is that costs must be contained in order to continue to provide sustainable and equitable service in the future. While the study does not cost out specific proposed operational or capital expenditures, it does make significant strides in providing metrics to evaluate current costs to compare to other models and best practices.

The following list attempts to capture key characteristics, trends, and directions of current practice as the former regional systems have begun to merge.

One-Size-Fits-All Solution Will Not Work
• Academic library delivery needs are different from publics
• Large public library needs differ from small publics
• Geography, individual library policies, and philosophical views of resource-sharing all play a role in differentiating “ideal” delivery for each library

Existing Models Are Heavy on Administration and Overhead, Short on Some Critical Information
• Too many hubs, too many delivery managers, not enough coordination (consolidation is under way)
• Overall lack of comparable data, especially in terms of true delivery volume and sorting metric

Lack of Shared Vision and Practice
• Inconsistent resource-sharing practices
• Not enough sharing of “best practices”
• Inconsistent reporting methods
• Inconsistent methods for packaging and transporting and labeling material

Resource-sharing (ILL) System Beyond the Shared ILSs is Cumbersome
• Unintuitive and difficult for users unless on shared ILS
• All requests beyond shared ILS must be staff mediated”

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