Enhancing Access--Why Coddle Our Users with Document Delivery Services When They Can Walk Across Campus to Get What They Need?
Before addressing the question I want to share few definitions and my notion of what the question implies.
First, I am taking a broad view of document delivery services. The following are some key terms:
- MyDocument Delivery—This is Cornell’s local electronic document delivery system.
- Interlibrary Loan—This is a service for borrowing material from other libraries around the world—includes returnables (books that have to be returned) and non-returnables(largely articles that the user keeps).
- Borrow Direct—This is an interlibrary loan consortium consisting of all of the Ivies except Harvard. Key to this service is the request process is unmediated saving staff time and speeding up the process. It is only for books. Currently over 70 percent of books are borrowed through BD.
- RAPID—This is a very speedy article delivery service developed by Colorado State University following the catastrophic flood several years ago. In addition to the speed benefit, it requires minimal staff interaction for borrowing. Currently, around 25 percent of our copies come through RAPID. RAPID is currently under development and we expect the yield to increase over time. We are working with the CSU project staff and others to figure out a way to use RAPID as a tool for an easy check of our local holdings for local document delivery.
- ILLiad—This is our interlibrary loan/document delivery management system. This is how users currently get access to MyDocument Delivery, interlibrary loan, including RAPID, but not including BD or Library to Library.
- Voyager—I mention Voyager because users access the Library to Library delivery service through the Library Catalog.
Second, “coddle” means according to Merriam Webster “to treat with extreme care, to pamper, to indulge”.
Based on that definition, which has a decidedly negative ring to it, the implication is that we should be passive in our posture towards our users when it comes to delivering actual material.
Well, friends, if a commitment to easy and speedy access to the resources our users need means we would be guilty of coddling, then I am pleased to tell you that the horse is out of the barn on this issue and long gone. We are happy coddlers willfully indulging our users. And, I think it is smart business. Time is a precious commodity for students and faculty and faculty’s time is costly. Also, it gives wonderful visibility to our library and its importance to everyone’s work.
- It is our policy to do this
- It is what our users want and need
- We are doing a splendid job and have plans continued improvement
Why do I say it is our policy? I am going to quote from 3 documents:
First, I want to quote the IRIS Vision statement. It reads, “ To bring individuals and information together.” And, the first value for users reads, “IRIS strives to provide responsive service and accurate information for our users, at their time and place of need, whenever possible.”
Second, the CUL Public Services mission statement says, “Advocate on behalf of the users in meeting the university’s teaching, research, and service mission. Ensure access to relevant and authoritative resources and services at the point and place of need.”
Third, improving our document delivery services is a priority goal CUL. It is one of PSEC’s priorities and one of the 9 priority objectives for CUL. The charge for the latter reads, “ Make document delivery as seamless and simple as possible for library users.”
Now, I said that it is what our users want and need. I am going to share a few numbers with you and some feedback to illustrate:
- User feedback—words
- Users could chose to fill in a comment box as part of the LibQUAL 2003 survey. We analyzed them and found that document delivery was one of the interests of our users. They commented on importance of convenient services pointing to the interdisciplinary nature of research and inconvenience of having so many units at Cornell.
- In bringing up Borrow Direct we solicited user feedback. What we got and continue to get gives a very clear indication of what our users want and it supports the policies I quoted to you. I’ll read just a couple. You’ll hear some familiar words from the policies and priority charge that I just quoted. “I just wanted to give a quick “thumbs up” for my experience with the Borrow Direct program. It worked seamlessly and was much quicker for obtaining a book than waiting the weeks for a recall to go through. Nice concept, nice system!” And another, “I found the experience with BorrowDirect to be simple, fast, reliable and easy.”
- User feedback—behavior—basically the better we get (faster, simpler, more reliable) putting the material that they want in their hands the more they respond.
- Interlibrary loan—borrowing has increased 77 percent (18,305 to 32,339 fills. However, the big jump happened in 02/03 when we brought up Borrow Direct. Borrowing increased 35 percent in just one year. We delivered what they wanted and they responded. Our fill rate for all of the ILL services—returnables and non-returnables is over 90 percent. The turnaround time is roughly 4 days. Articles we get much faster – less than 24 hours if it comes through RAPID.
- Library to Library book delivery—At the end of 04/05 fiscal year, users had borrowed approximately 10,000 items using this service which began in October.
- North Campus book return—Implemented on May 6 in response to user request by May 22, 2,792 items were returned using this new service. It will be available during the Fall and Spring academic sessions
- MyDocument delivery—This is another new service we brought up last year. Just like with standard interlibrary loan, users register and request material through ILLiad. Articles from Cornell’s collections are scanned and posted to the web for users to download to their desktop. The big difference is that there is a modest cost -- $4.00 with a couple of exceptions. For example copies from the Library Annex are free. Turnaround time is on average 24 hours or less depending on supplying unit.
- Future-As you can tell this past year has been a banner year in support of our mission to coddle our users – My document delivery, Library to Library, the North campus book drop, the speedy article request service RAPID. And our users can expect more this year.
- For example, coming this fall look for a pilot library to department book delivery service for faculty. It will be free. Depending on how this goes, we have our eye on library to individual office delivery using the campus mail.
- The “Get It” Team has a range of enhancements to our delivery services planned and under investigation. You can read all about them and the groups work at http://www.library.cornell.edu/staffweb/
I am passing out our current timeline and the full charge to the group.
- In addition to what’s being planned I’d like to leave you with a few other possibilities.
- How about free electronic document delivery to all Cornell users? Most likely volume would increase. I should point out that 51 percent of the current EDD traffic is from the Annex which is free.
- Right now our users can borrow material we own from BD libraries even if we own the item but it is charged out. It is faster than recalling material. ILL doesn’t operate that way. What if we changed that policy? Again, we would realize increased costs, but user feedback tells us that this is one of the popular things about BD.
- What about looking at delivering our ILL books through the Library to Library & Library to Office delivery services as well as allowing?
- PSEC is currently discussing some “coddling” ideas that Cornell’s President, Hunter Rawlings, raised with Sarah. While he was at the University of Virginia, he was impressed with 3 of their service policies for enhancing access. The first, library to office delivery for faculty, is ready for rollout here as I mentioned. However, I want to throw out the other two – no due dates for faculty – NEVER is actually stamped in the books (that would really save the shoe leather of our faculty) and free borrowing privileges to all state residents, essentially expanding our user base.
- All of these services present us with added costs, but through clever use of new technologies and consortium such as BD and RAPID we are able to handle more volume. The “Get It” Team will be doing a cost study as part of the project this fall which should give the administration useful information regarding actual costs and allow us to make informed decisions on what is possible and not. There is nothing worse than adding a new service that you do not have the resources with which to deliver on your commitment.