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Interlibrary loan alternatives (Albert Henderson) Marcia Tuttle 09 Jul 1996 12:51 UTC

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 9 Jul 1996 01:02:49 EDT
From: Albert Henderson <70244.1532@COMPUSERVE.COM>
Subject: Interlibrary loan alternatives

James Huesmann <huesmanj@LHL.LIB.MO.US> comments

>>Al Henderson <70244.1532@COMPUSERVE.COM> writes:
>>  What is the policy when a patron of an ARL-size
>>library causes CONTU guidelines to be exceeded? Does the library enter a
>>subscription or is it forced to send him/her packing?
>        Actually, at most institutions, the faculty member is NEVER sent
>packing (Talk about poor service!  Anyone out there willing to admit that
>their institution does this?)  CONTU guidelines do NOT state that a request
>in excess of the guidelines should be ignored, merely that it is in excess
>of fair use, and that a copyright payment is due (A point that, as a
>publisher, I'm sure you'd agree!).  At worst, the faculty member is asked to
>pay the copyright fee.  Quite often these requests are due, as you point
>out, to a research grant, and covering costs for information that is beyond
>the "norm" of the library's collection is a valid part of the grant funding.
>In the case of some of these use studies you've cited, the statistics showed
>that it was less expensive to the library to pay the copyright for the
>articles needed instead of the whole journal.

One of my fundamental points is that library collections are often used to
review the literature for the purpose of making proposals, prior to
getting all that good grant money. The collections are used in the process
of reviewing research taking place on other campuses -- totally
unconnected with a local grant. Of course, some grants are renewed or
follow a line of research. Still, the value of good information resources
is their contribution to the quality of the preparation, the effectiveness
of the research itself.

>>Every interlibrary borrowing represents a measurable failure of the

>Your belief, from your point of view AS A PUBLISHER.  You neglect that,
>without the effort to develop those ILL systems, there would be NO access.

Actually, I thought that I was reflecting an idea mentioned by Herbert S.
White (I'm sorry that the cite is not before me), who also pointed out
that research has shown many ILB items are in the catalog but not
available. I have nothing against ILB except as a substitute for a
collection that is adequate. The numbers of ILBs have been rising faster
than the numbers of volumes in quite a few ARL member collections,
suggesting that performance failure has been rising over the last 20

>>My point of view is the following:
>>"Every interlibrary borrowing represents a measurable _success_ of the
>>library profession's attempt to deal with skyrocketing subscription costs
>>well in excess of inflation, the increased number of scholarly publications,
>>and static or declining budgets."

The problems are rooted in poor budgets.

>With ILL and Document Delivery, faculty at institutions far from an ARL
>collection have access to the literature from around the world - assuming
>that it is indexed and/or cataloged.  Guess what?  It always depended on if
>it was indexed and/or cataloged.  You complain about having to travel to a
><collection?  Researchers have done that for ages!  Pre-eminent collections
>in every field cannot be collected at every research university library.

Sure, go to France to study French. Don't bother trying in the U.S. any
more. My concern is that a national center for the study of the Yeti will
not have a good, up-to-date information resource. Instead, they must come
up with cites, wait and then produce research that duplicates something
done in India five years earlier. This problem is so elemental that
Michael Faraday complained of it at a time when the best collections could
fit in the corner of a big Barnes & Noble..

>>If patrons truly use ILB for browsing, CONTU guidelines will be exceeded
>>quickly. The Texaco case focused on a scientist who had copied six
>>articles that he intended to read at some indefinite future date.  You
>>really cannot browse a database as you do a good collection. I can offer
>>the report of an entomologist who, after searching 7 major databases found
>>only half the literature on his chosen bug cited online. The rest of his
>>cites came from old-fashioned methods. I also think the typical card
>>catalog format used by most OPACs, which was designed for use where you
>>could walk over to the shelf and browse the book, needs an enormous
>>upgrading to incorporate indexes and tables of contents, illustrations,

>        I've heard few people suggest that interlibrary loan should be for
>browsing.  Yes, you (sorry, at least I) can "browse" a good journal database
>as you can a good journal collection - the important word here is "good",
>with abstracts, etc..  Al, I don't know your entomologist, but I'll lay you
>odds that a far higher percentage of his cites would have come from unnamed
>"old-fashioned methods" before indexes and abstracts were put online.  Ask
>anyone whose graduate career spanned the time when such databases were
>developed - was it easier and more complete before or after those databases
>were online?  More and more tables of contents, etc., are coming online -
>and I'll also wager on illustrations (see electronic thread to this
>discussion).  However, if CONTU guidelines are exceeded and a library does
>subscribe to that journal, isn't this a form of "use study"?

Indexes existed 100 years ago, far more complete in covering the
relatively small literature even in their cumbersome technology. Chances
are they would measure up today if information resources were adequately

The cite is Deitz, L.L., and L M Osegueda. Effectiveness of bibliographic
databases, in Bulletin of the Entomological Society of America. 35
(1989):33-39. Prof. Deitz has also pointed out that workers describing new
taxa of treehoppers have created at least 4 homonyms at the generic level
and 12 at the species level; this demonstrates that researchers are often
unaware the names they are proposing are already in use for other animals!

>        This gets into one of my own pet peeves (Sorry, Al, for bringing it
>up - this one has nothing to do with you.)  Some researchers have an
>exaggerated respect for "serendipity" in the old card catalog.  In other
>words, their success is based on luck, and they believe that the paper
>format is the only way to achieve that "luck".  Any OPAC with a "browse"
>feature (and most have it) allow that kind of searching.  The only place
>I've found more "serendipitous" results in my research than online has been
>in archives - and my other field is Latin American History, until recently
>not the best area for online searching!

I think the word "serendipity" is often given more credit than it
deserves. True serendipity occurred with the discovery of xrays that had
created a latent image on photographic material. Researchers browse
systematically, exploring purposefully and seeking materials relevent to
their interests. They go from the catalog, where they get a shelf number
of a known item, to the shelf and then see what else is there. Or, looking
up an article in a journal, you may find letters, editorials, other
articles, abstracts, notices, etc. that provide useful information. Many
articles are browsed, not fully read, with the researcher focusing on bits
and pieces.

I would say that serendipity in the library occurs when you find something
of interest left out on a table or misfiled by someone else.

Thanks for responding.