Best Practices to Improve Borrowing Services

Written by the Minitex/MnLINK ILL Committee 2010.

Respondents to borrowing best practices focused on communication with the end user. One best practice that was frequently stated is to make sure the end-user knows when the ILL item is due back. Part of communication with end users is managing end-user expectations. End-users should be aware that searching in local catalogs or citation databases may be faster than requesting all of their items through interlibrary loan. End-users should also be made aware of their responsibility to allow enough time for ILL processing and to be aware of when their ILL items should be returned. Also end-users should be aware that journal requests may be delivered as a paper copy or electronically delivered.

Communication with End-Users

Respondents to this question focused on communication with the end-user about their requests.

  • Stressing to users the importance of allowing enough time, remembering to pick up the requested items, and returning on time.
  • It should be clear to the end-user when the item is due back.
  • Items given to an end-user should be tracked.
  • Explain to the end-user if the item can be renewed and how to request a renewal.
  • Educating end-user about the proper use of interlibrary loan. It may be that an item can be obtained though a request or holds in the local or regional catalog more quickly than by interlibrary loan. End-users may need to learn how to search citation database for full-text articles on their subject.

Best Practices for Workflow Improvements

  • A number of respondents suggested that the due date be in larger font and perhaps red to help the end-user understand when the item is due.
  • All non-print items be checked before giving the item to the patron and checked again after the end-user has returned the item.
  • Tracking of interlibrary loan requests in ILS software or by a spreadsheet so overdue notices and bills can be sent when the ILL item is not returned promptly.
  • Checking on the status of an ILL request at the lending library.
  • Processing the item as soon as it is delivered to the borrowing library. Delivering items to the end-user as soon as they arrive – do not wait for the patron to pick up the item.
  • Some respondents expressed concern over the amount of papers and suggested using a bookband slip or removable sticker. Paperwork was important to help in the processing of a request.
  • Citation should be checked for completeness before sending the request to the lending library.
  • NCIP could improve request processing for libraries using VDX. See NCIP Standard to learn more about NCIP.

Rev Dec 2010

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