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Using E-Journals for Interlibrary Loan

Benefits of Using E-Journals

  • Trend is towards electronic only
  • Efficiency in workflow
  • Quality of scans

Interlibrary loan staffs have noticed that the number of libraries with holdings attached to electronic journal records in WorldCAT has increased greatly in recent years. We used to see a larger number of holdings on "print" serial records as opposed to the "online" serial records, but this is becoming increasingly rare. The expectation is that libraries will continue the trend to close their print holdings in favor of online journals.

Using these e-journals to fill interlibrary loan requests could be beneficial to libraries struggling to keep up with requests for journal articles. It could eliminate the need to retrieve and reshelf journals. It would also eliminate the time spent scanning or photocopying articles. The quality of the scans provided by the e-journal vendors is also generally better than that done by interlibrary loan staff.

Communicating the Needs of ILL to Whoever Negotiates Your Contracts

  • The danger of losing rights now allowed by copyright law
  • ILL might not be a priority
  • Desired language in contracts

One danger that libraries face in replacing the copyright law governing the use of print resources with the terms of the licenses governing the use of online content is the potential loss of the right we enjoy under copyright law to make copies from journals and books within certain guidelines for the purpose of interlibrary loan. Staff negotiating contracts with vendors should be made aware of the needs of interlibrary loan and the technology being used for ILL, so that they can include terms favorable to ILL in the contracts. Unfortunately, because of other issues that need to be negotiated, ILL may not be a priority.

It may be helpful to provide your contract negotiators with language that they could strive to include in contracts. Here are two examples:

The University of Minnesota attempts to negotiate the following terms in licenses for e-journals: Pursuant to these terms and conditions, the University of Minnesota Library may honor requests for loans of individual documents to support non-commercial scholarly research by patrons of other libraries such as public, schools or college libraries. Licensee agrees to fulfill such requests in compliance with Sections 107 and 108 of the United States Copyright Act. Insubstantial amounts of the licensed material may be sent to the requesting library by mail, fax, or secure electronic transmission.

The CIC (Committee for Institutional Cooperation) preferred license terms: Interlibrary Loan. Using electronic, paper, or intermediated means such as Ariel, Licensee may fulfill occasional requests from other non participating institutions, a practice commonly called Inter-Library Loan. Customer agrees to fulfill such requests in compliance with Section 108 of the United States Copyright Law (17 USC §108, “Limitations on exclusive rights: Reproduction by libraries and archives”) and the Guidelines for the Proviso of Subsection 108(2g)(2) prepared by the National Commission on New Technological Uses of Copyrighted Works (CONTU). [Center for Library Initiatives Standardized Agreement Language, section 7, g, updated June 2009]

Keeping Track of E-Journals Which May Be Used for ILL

  • ERMs (Electronic Resource Management)
  • Simpler alternatives

It is not a simple task to stay current on which e-journals may be used for interlibrary loan and what restrictions may apply to their use. Some libraries are using Electronic Resource Management (ERMS) software to help them track electronic subscriptions. This software is expensive and license terms must be input by the library staff, so it does take time and money to implement this solution. It is also possible to keep a more informal list of the major databases or highly requested journals, that can be referred to as requests are received.

Typical License Terms

  • Electronic delivery OK, no restrictions
  • Electronic delivery OK – "Ariel or equivalent"
  • Print first and scan, then electronic delivery OK – "Ariel or equivalent"
  • Print and deliver via courier, mail or fax
  • Print and deliver via courier or mail only
  • ILL forbidden
  • ILL not addressed

Responsibility of Lenders Using E-Journals

Lending staff need to take care that they are abiding by the terms of the contracts that their libraries have agreed to, and that they are making a reasonable interpretation of the contract terms.

Resource Sharing News

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Resource Sharing News keeps readers up-to-date about interlibrary loan activities in the Minitex region.


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Use MNLINK to:

  • Search multiple libraries and databases at once.
  • Request materials.
  • Search eLibrary Minnesota (ELM) to view and download articles about numerous topics.