Investigating Interlending: a scoping study of resource discovery, sharing and cooperation This report presents work commissioned by The Combined Regions (TCR) and undertaken by a team from CPLIS (the Centre for the Public Library and Information in Society) in the Information School at the University of Sheffield, to investigate the factors influencing interlending and resource sharing in public libraries, and identify potential future models of cooperation.
The research was motivated by a need to better understand the apparent decline in rates of interlending indicated by falling rates of both searching and lending through the UnityUK system.
The results of a survey into the use of electronic resources in the context of inter-library loans has now been published. The survey was conducted at the end of 2010 by TCR's Conarls Working Group, the Forum for Interlending and Information Delivery (FIL) and the North West Libraries Interlending Partnership (NWLIP). The purpose was to gain an understanding of the particular issues electronic materials present in fulfilling inter-library loan requests, and the solutions already in place to overcome these issues.
The survey suggests that keeping track of the rights granted by different publishers is a major obstacle to interlending, alleviated in some cases through the use of a Digital Rights Management or Electronic Resource Management system. The full results have been published on the FIL website.
A follow-up survey is planned for the end of 2011, to determine if the picture has changed in the intervening year.
The Forum for Interlending and Information Delivery (FIL) has updated its Best Practice Guidelines with regard to items lost in transit. Previously, FIL advised that the requesting library was responsible for items on interlibrary loan, from the moment they leave the supplying library until their safe return. Now, in line with common practice and with the British Library's policy, the guidelines have been reworded as follows.
"The requester library is responsible for an item upon its receipt from a responder library until it has been received back by the responder library on its return."
For the purposes of this guideline, proof of delivery on an automated system or from the courier counts as receipt of an item.
The Best Practice Guidelines may be found in full on the FIL website.
Harper Adams University College in Shropshire has joined the Conarls IRU Cost Scheme. This means they will now use the 'Conarls rate' when borrowing from or lending to the other libraries in the scheme, instead of using the higher BLDSC rate.
The full list of participants in the scheme is available on the TCR website.
New shared Web catalogue to boost visibility and usage of public library resources
OCLC and The Combined Regions (TCR) have announced plans to launch Britain's first freely accessible national public library union catalogue. Containing the bibliographic data from 80% of the UK's public libraries, the service will make it possible for Web users to simultaneously search 9 million bibliographic records and 50 million holdings.
Leveraging information already indexed in WorldCat, the world's largest online resource for finding library materials, this customised union catalogue will provide a view of holdings contributed by the 149 local authorities with a current full package subscription to UnityUK, the UK's only nationwide network for resource sharing.
The initiative will make bibliographic data more discoverable on the open Web. Indexing of WorldCat data through search engines such as Google and Yahoo! will vastly improve awareness of public library resources and drive significantly increased traffic back to local libraries.
Requiring no other expenditure than a current full package UnityUK subscription, the service increases visibility for public library holdings – positioning them as primary sources of information alongside other Web resources.
A recent agreement drafted by OCLC with input from The Combined Regions securing the provision of UnityUK and making important provisions for its future as a national platform for resource discovery and inter-lending paved the way for the development of this new union catalogue. Both organisations share an ambition to achieve wider access to public libraries. This agreement is a vital step towards that goal.
Commenting on the plans Rob Froud, Chair, The Combined Regions said: "We have long held the ambition to create a national union catalogue and we are delighted that we are going to achieve this in partnership with OCLC. It is one of the biggest developments for public libraries since the People's Network: it's the Big Idea that public libraries need to demonstrate their combined value, their relevance and accessibility at a time when resource sharing is more important than ever."
These are sentiments echoed by OCLC's Robin Murray, Vice President, Global Product Management: "This is a crucial time for UK public libraries. The focus on shared services and collaboration to raise the profile of UK public libraries in the midst of declining budgets has never been more important. The need to employ technology in new ways to increase visibility and usage is key."
Robin continues: "OCLC is acutely aware of the challenges facing libraries today and we are devoted to maximising the value our customers receive from existing investments. Our strategy has always been to leverage the benefits and efficiencies of scale brought about through cooperation and the aggregation of library data – this initiative is the latest manifestation of this approach – a way to provide a simple, scalable solution to a long-standing challenge faced by the public libraries in the UK."
The first phase of this project is to produce an initial 'proof of concept' which will be available for review by those UnityUK libraries with a full package subscription in March 2011.
More information is available from the OCLC Web site.
Press release: 3rd August 2009
The Combined Regions (TCR) and Conarls, two organizations dedicated to interlibrary co-operation throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland, amalgamated with effect from 1 April 2009. United under The Combined Regions’ name, the organization will provide a single, united voice for libraries throughout the British Isles on matters of resource discovery and sharing, thereby achieving economies of scale whilst retaining services.
For more than 15 years TCR, working with its partners, has taken a lead role in the move towards a national network for resource sharing for the UK and is responsible for the UnityUK™ national union catalogue. At the same time, Conarls has provided strategic and operational support for library resource discovery and sharing in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Its notable achievements include the Conarls Inter-Regional Unit (IRU) Cost Scheme – which currently has 457 members – the Joint Fiction Reserves and a database of non-English language fiction collections. The Conarls Working Group within TCR will continue to deal with such issues and, with improved resources, expand on that work.
According to company secretary Alex Ball, ‘While the merger will bring efficiency savings to both organizations internally, both TCR and the Conarls Working Group within it will continue to support libraries in much the same way as they have always done. The merger also resolves any confusion libraries may have felt about the best forum in which to raise issues of inter-library co-operation.’
Further information about TCR and the Conarls Working Group may be found on the recently relaunched TCR website: http://combinedregions.com/.
The Combined Regions (TCR) is a company limited by guarantee, whose members are regional library organizations and national libraries. It was formed in 1994 with the mission to produce a national electronic union catalogue, Unity. The catalogue has undergone several transformations, and reached the milestone of full UK coverage when it merged with LinkUK in 2006 to become UnityUK™, developed and operated by OCLC. UnityUK™ has over 150 subscribers, and contains over 9.5 million records and over 50 million holdings.
Conarls was originally set up as forum for collaboration between the National and Regional Library Systems in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. As the landscape of regional library organizations has changed, so has the membership of Conarls, but the organization's commitment to interlibrary co-operation, resource discovery and sharing remains constant. Conarls is probably best known for its Inter-Regional Unit (IRU) Cost Scheme for interlibrary loans (ILLs). Instead of libraries charging each other the rate charged by the British Library Document Supply Centre for ILLs, libraries in the scheme charge each other the lower ‘Conarls rate’, thereby reducing costs. Conarls also played a part in setting up Joint Fiction Reserves: co-operative schemes whereby groups of libraries commit to maintain between them a comprehensive stock of out-of-print fiction, ensuring it remains available for anyone to borrow.
UnityUK is a trademark of The Combined Regions.
Press release: 22nd July 2008
Lancashire County Library and Information Service which runs one of the busiest public library ILL units in England, has moved its lending and borrowing operations over to UnityUK. In 2007/08, Lancashire made over 13,000 requests and supplied over 7000 items.
Lancashire has been using UnityUK to find locations since April 2006 and their catalogue, including holdings information, is now live within the service. Early in 2008, they introduced UnityUK’s lending service into the authority and in July 2008 they moved over their requesting functions to the Unity UK service.
Peggy Eccles, Principal Librarian Bibliographical Services with Lancashire County Library and Information Service explains why, after many years with the same supplier, they chose to move, “The UnityUK service is a modern and intelligent service that we knew would help us to upgrade our processes and ultimately improve the service we provide to other libraries and our customers. We have built a good reputation as a supplier to other public libraries and we believed it was important for us to join the thriving UnityUK user community.”
With UnityUK in place, Lancashire has streamlined and fully automated both its lending and requesting functions; with no need to maintain separate files or handle hundreds of incoming email messages. UnityUK’s built in rota building facility ensures that Lancashire can easily build long rotas where necessary and the system automatically tracks the progress of every request without the need for human intervention at any stage. This has enabled Lancashire to improve the efficiency of their service, reducing processing times for both requests and item supply.
UnityUK integrates closely with Lancashire’s library management system (LMS) to reduce the need for duplicating data entry in multiple systems. Request details are automatically transferred from UnityUK into their LMS, and an automated process creates a catalogue record that is used for issuing the items to borrowers. This high level of integration lowers the administrative overhead and reduces the opportunity for mistakes during data entry.
Peggy continues, “It was vital that our transition to UnityUK went smoothly, so OCLC put together a package for us that included workflow consultancy and process improvement prior to our move. This gave us the opportunity to refine our processes and then tailor the service to meet our needs.”
Press release: 18th June 2008
OCLC is pleased to announce that the data and holdings of the LinkUK union catalogue have been successfully migrated into the UnityUK union catalogue. This full integration sees the realisation of a UK national union catalogue that provides 170 public libraries access to over 9.3 million titles and 50.5 million holdings.
UnityUK delivers leading edge functionality for union catalogue management, cross database searching, holdings and item location, integrated interlibrary loans and resource sharing. It enables complete searching and request management from one interface and to date has fulfilled over 112,000 requests from member libraries.
Katie Birch, Portfolio Manager, OCLC commented "We are delighted to have reached this point and will continue to develop the service to suit the needs of its users."
Rob Froud, TCR Chair, commented "This is a landmark development in Interlibrary loan services in the UK. The Combined Regions is delighted to be working with OCLC and the former LinkUK library community to establish this coherent, strategic and national approach to service delivery."
The UnityUK user community continues to grow with Middlesborough, Redcar and Cleveland and South Tyneside Public Libraries recently subscribing to the service.
Press release: 12th October 2006
OCLC PICA and The Combined Regions (TCR) are pleased to announce that the process to integrate the UnityUK service with the LinkUK service has successfully begun.
The groundwork for the project to bring together over 100 UnityUK libraries and 78 LinkUK libraries is well under way. Five libraries across the West Midlands: Staffordshire, Coventry, Stoke-on-Trent, Birmingham and Worcestershire began using the UnityUK service in August 2006. The first early adopter library authorities from across London and the South East: Camden, Slough, Bromley, Southwark, Enfield, East Sussex, Islington and Surrey, have already received their first round of training and are in the process of beginning to use UnityUK to supply items requested by other libraries.
LinkUK, formerly known as v3 Online, will be integrated with UnityUK to deliver the first national service for resource sharing in the UK. This countrywide initiative is part-financed by the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund delivered through the South Yorkshire Objective 1 Programme.
Jennifer Cox, Stock Services Manager at Bromley Libraries, a previous Chair of the Forum for Interlending and a member of the OCLC Resource Sharing Advisory Committee, is already positive about the move to an integrated service, "All of us at Bromley can see the potential that the new service will offer, particularly its capability to streamline and speed up the ILL process for all members. This will make the job easier for staff and will ultimately improve the service we can offer to our library users. A national ILL service is the way forward we are excited about being part of its development."
LinkUK libraries will use both the UnityUK system and the integrated ILL management package, which enables them to use UnityUK to manage communication for all incoming requests and outgoing requests.
Early adopters among the LinkUK libraries will use both services as part of the integration project. This will facilitate gap analysis to identity the best of breed from both services and to ensure that the UnityUK service is developed in line with the LinkUK libraries usability requirements for the interface and workflow.
Library Authorities from Wales have a training date booked for October 2006, and following training, UnityUK will be rolled out to these areas for item supply management.
Linda Saunders, Chief Librarian at Sandwell and Dudley, was pleased to become an involved at an early stage, "The integration of the two services is a huge step forward for resource sharing and I welcome the opportunity to be a part of its evolution. The new service is completely in line with the underlying values of libraries; co-operation for the benefit of our users has always driven us to find new solutions to share our resources more effectively."
The integration process started, on schedule, in August 2006 and with the process now underway, UnityUK is on track to deliver a national network for resource sharing for the UK during 2007.
The new integrated service uses the latest resource sharing technology from world leaders OCLC PICA who also host and manage the new service. Over 175 library authorities across the UK use OCLC PICA software to share resources and manage requesting.
UnityUK will be on show at the OCLC PICA stand (stand 214) at the Online Information Show taking place at London Olympia from 28th to 30th November 2006.
In excess of 100 library authorities have already signed up to become members of UnityUK: the next generation resource sharing and interlibrary loan service from The Combined Regions (TCR). UnityUK is a part-financed project by the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund delivered through the South Yorkshire Objective 1 Programme. In the four months since the launch, 90% of members have been trained, and four regional user groups have been scheduled. More than 50% of subscribers have already used the service to place a request.
County Councils, Metropolitan Boroughs and Unitary authorities are all represented among the UnityUK membership list and library authorities large and small have all signed up for the new TCR service. The geographic spread of UnityUK users is impressive and the service is already being used by libraries across England, Scotland and Wales.
As part of the ongoing development of the service, from mid July 2006 UnityUK subscribers will be able to access the former UnityWeb catalogue, complete with 40 million holdings, and use the information for searching and placing requests.
UnityUK will, for the first time, deliver a national network for resource sharing for the UK as it brings together the union catalogues of The Combined Regions and LinkUK and one integrated service is expected in mid 2007. The new service uses the latest resource sharing technology from world leaders OCLC PICA who also host and manage the new service.
The 78 LinkUK libraries also use OCLC PICA software to share resources and the integration project between UnityUK and the LinkUK libraries is due to start during the summer 2006. Early adopters among the LinkUK libraries will use both services as part the integration project to ensure that the UnityUK service is developed in line with the LinkUK libraries requirements.
More than 175 library authorities across the UK use OCLC PICA software to share resources and manage requesting.
UnityUK will be on show at the Forum for Interlending, taking place at the University of Southampton from 10th to 12th July 2006.