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Posts Tagged ‘inter-library loans’

FIL @ BLSDSC Friday 16th March 2012

Posted by gazjjohnson on 19 March, 2012

This is going to be a somewhat briefer than normal entry for an external event, as I was hosting the day – thus not as much chance to make notes and have useful networking; more a case of a lot of running around and keeping multiple plates spinning in the air to keep everything on track, on time and running smoothly!

The view from above of the BLDSCThis annual FIL event at the British Library’s Boston Spa Document Supply Centre (where oh so many of the inter-library loans we obtain for staff and students come from) has been running for many, many years.  While the format varies a little from year to year it always features some aspect of behind the scenes touring as well as an update from BL staff on plans and forthcoming activities.  Given the recent roll out of the new BLDSS (Document Supply Service) here at Leicester and across the country, I along with many of the other delegates were eager to hear what was next.

I was there at 8.30am, and despite not being on the delegates list (heck, I’m only national Chair of FIL and running the day – why would I be on the list!)  I still made it through security and to the conference centre.  It had been at least 10 years since I was last on site and I was interested to see how much of the leafy campus had changed, and how much was still the same.  The buildings do have a certain monolithic quality to them, as befits such a nationally recognised organisation – although there was less of a “bunker” quality to the place than I remembered.

Myself, along with fellow FIL Committee member from Newport Helen and local head of BL Customer Services Kate, spent the next hour arranging the rooms, stuffing delegate packs and arranging a selection of freebies around the room.  Most of the delegates were coming by train and then transferring to a coach the BL had kindly organised.  We were supposed to see the coach around 10am, but due to a slight delay in getting out of York (couple with I hear a scenic tour of the North Yorkshire countryside) it didn’t appear until almost the time we were scheduled to kick off.  This meant I had to do some creative programme juggling with the aid of the morning speakers to keep us on track – and importantly give the delegates as much of an opportunity to talk to each other as possible.  Experience sharing is at the heart of all FIL events, and so while the temptation to reduce breaks to make up lost time was there it’s not an option I’m ever keen to employ.

Following a warm up and introduction to the day from yours truly we moved onto the first two talks.  First up Lucy Wilkins of Bristol University gave us an overview of her experiences at the big ILDS conference in the States late last year.  Lucy had been sponsored by FIL to attend and it had clearly been a valuable and eye-opening experience for her.  She was followed by Margaret Rowley from Worcestershire Health ICT Services who talked about the parallels and differences between the NHS and other interlending sectors.  This was useful not just for the insight but also in attracting more health librarians to be in attendance than would normally be at the event. It really added depth I think to the exchange of experiences between the delegates during the day.

At this point half the group went off on a tour, while the rest listened to Andy Appleyard and Anthony Troman from the British Library.  Andy did a marvellous impromptu slot when the slides for the session went AWOL for a few minutes, but we were soon back on track.  I was very interested by a number of things the BL has coming down the line – electronic signatures, a greater focus on accessing BLDSC items on mobile devices and even lighter touch DRM than they currently use.

Behind the scenesAn excellent lunch followed, and then for those whom had been a tour a chance to hear from the BL guys.  I went on the tour which took us around part of the operation that suppliers us books and journals; and included a few updates on the BLDSS.  I would have liked to have seen the robots selecting books in the repository building itself, but sadly that wasn’t on the agenda for today. Maybe next time.

After a tea break we split the groups once more for two discussion workshops led by myself and Lucy (which ran twice so everyone could get involved).  Lucy’s looked at the tips, resources and skills that we all use everyday – with a particular focus on what areas we need to upskill new entrants to ILLs with.  This will be a useful output that will help shape some upcoming FIL training.  Mine looked at the visibility and perception of ILL services within organisations and by their patrons; although it took an interesting detour in the second session to discuss charging arrangements for ILLs.  Lucy and myself will be writing these sessions up for the FIL site in the near future (along with the slides from the event)

Finally Lucy and I shared some highlights from our workshops with all the delegates, and after some brief final discussions we packed everyone onto the coach – and I cleared up the rooms.  Being FIL Chair gets you all the best jobs.

The feedback from the event was very positive, and there were some great ideas from the delegates for topics to tackle in future events.  I’m even already thinking that maybe a FIL @BLDSC in the autumn might not be an unrealistic proposal…

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The Future of Interlibrary Loans – workshop

Posted by gazjjohnson on 13 December, 2010

Another guest post by one of my team members (Izzy Hoskins again!) on a recent ILL event

On the 8th December myself and two colleagues attended the EMALINK event Inter Library loans: towards the future – differences and parallels at the University of Derby.

This consisted of presentations by both Tim Peacock of the University of Derby and Dorothy Atherton of the University of Nottingham. These presentations were followed by demonstrations of their systems and a discussion between attendees as to the varying natures of our methods.

Tim began by presenting various statistics, notably that after a period of decreasing requests the past two academic years have seen an increase in requests at Derby: 07-08 seeing a 9% increase and 09-10 an 8% increase. They seemed to welcome this rise and felt that this was due to moving towards a user friendly electronic requesting system. Their website was visually accessible and an online requesting service was available to everyone although undergraduates have to pre-pay allowing staff to update their records. This was felt to be a problem and they are hoping to develop an online payment system in order to ease the administrative process. It certainly seemed to be the case that their administrative processes could be streamlined into a much more efficient and staff friendly system. All requests were received (at the staff end) by e-mail and had to be re-keyed in order to be placed with the British Library. I have to say I was quite surprised by this especially given that one bonus of electronic signatures is that it does away with large quantities of paperwork. Printing these requests off effectively recreates this paper work and would be very time-consuming for their staff.

Dorothy Atherton, Services Manager in Resource Acquisition & Supply at the University of Nottingham gave the second presentation. Their department centrally processes three campuses and deals with around 8000 requests annually and are responsible for ILL, Digitisation as well as their digital archive. They have introduced digital signatures with a 100% online requesting system and like Derby were very keen on an accessible online interface. After a period of decline the number of requests that they receive has plateaud since 2006 with the number of loan requests remaining around 40% of their total. In 2010 the number of SED requests has overtaken that of photocopy requests which given the smaller costs of these they are actively encouraging. Like us all their requests are initially sent to the BL although the number of items they receive from them is gradually declining which has pushed them towards a greater use of Amazon marketplace, OCLC, Google and direct searches.

Both institutions used DX as a courier which led to some amusing bursts of horror with claims of items being found on roundabouts and ditches. We moved onto tea and were able to meet the faces behind daily correspondence.
Later it was agreed that a discussion between the attendees, co-ordinated by both Tim and Dorothy, would take place. A number of topics were discussed:

  • Inter-lending of electronic items:
    • Most institutions were aware that they could supply on occasion although most held back on supply as legislation was either not readily available or clear. This is clearly something that needs to be addressed with the movement towards electronic collections.
  •  Charges and quota systems
    • Some very interesting differences were uncovered and there seemed to be a number of somewhat complicated payment systems in place and quota allocation varied drastically between institutions. For example:
      • Lincoln only charge 50p for an inter-library loan
      • Warwick have budgets for departments as opposed to the usual quota system
      • One institution even allowed members of staff to donate their quotas to colleagues..
  • Electronic Signatures
    • Nearly all attendees aside from ourselves had moved to electronic signatures although this did not necessarily mean a simpler system overall.
  • Writing up status
    • Surprisingly most institutions treated writing up students as full time paying students when allocating allowances
  • Charges
    • Many institutions subsidise the British Library costs although most seemed to looking towards increasing their charges in light of imminent budget cuts.
  • Rising costs
    • These were a key feature and it was particularly interesting to note that some institutions purchased items online if they were found to be cheaper than the British Library charge of £12.00 for a loan.
  • Databases
    • Everyone used the same databases, ie: Worldcat, Copac, Suncat and the inforM25 and some also paid subscriptions to Unity amongst others.

It was very interesting to see where we fit alongside other institutions that are facing similar pressures. We came away with a lot of ideas and suggestions to take our service forward and felt that meeting the people we work alongside through e-mail will be of benefit in our work.

Posted in Document Supply, Staff training | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

FileOpen is coming – help me test it!

Posted by gazjjohnson on 28 September, 2010

File Open is the new secure electronic delivery mechanism the British Library have been moving to, to replace the rather less user friendly Adobe Digital Editions (to paraphrase the BL’s words).  Over the summer the update plug-in should have rolled out to all campus machines on the CFS network, with the student PCs being the last ones done this month.  Off campus people will need to download and install the FO plug-in for themselves, but this should be a relatively painless exercise, at least according to every document supply manager I’ve spoken to who’s already done it.

I’m currently mulling over when would be the best time to make the switch over, as term is kicking off all around me this week and next it doesn’t seem the right time to spring this; but perhaps a 2011 roll out would be more suitable.  it would certainly give me more time to do a spot of testing.  I wouldn’t want to push something out before I know it’s working for our readers!

In the meantime – if you get the chance to follow this link and try opening the document on a CFS machine (or download the plug in and try on your own machine) I’d be really grateful!  If you can tell me your machine type (Mac/PC), operating system and if you’re on CFS or not, that’d be even better!

Posted in Document Supply, Service Delivery | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Digital signatures and document supply – investigation continues

Posted by gazjjohnson on 19 January, 2010

Following on from this earlier post, I’ve had a couple of very useful interchanges with Anne Bell (Cardiff) and Graham Titley (Portsmouth) on this subject.  I was pointed in their direction and some other folks by quite a few of my followers on twitter – so thanks Mairie, Georgeina, Sarah, Damyanti and all the rest.  I’m waiting on a few other people I’ve contacted, not to mention those on a distribution list, to come back to me as well. 

hopefully this should give me a broad idea of the state of the art in the UK right now.  I’m editing together everything I’ve learned so far into a review document, distilling the experiences I encounter and raising the questions that we need to answer for ourselves before we can move in this direction for definite.  But since others have already gone down this path I’m hoping the only challenges we face are operational and technical, and not legal.

We’ll be having a meeting next week at which we’ll be discussing the initial thoughts and next steps, and at which point doubtless I’ll have more to report back on.

[Edit Tue evening: Thanks to Peter Suber for pointing out that Charle’s site has now evolved in to the Bibliography of Open Access Wiki.  The old site still contains some bookend material but is now static.]

Posted in Document Supply | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Digital signatures and document supply – an investigation

Posted by gazjjohnson on 13 January, 2010

Like most universities we operate a document supply service.  For articles from journals we’re required by copyright law to collect a signed form for each and every request from our customers; in our case a print off of a webpage.  This isn’t an ideal situation since it means there’s generally a day between a request being placed and the signed form reaching my team – at which point we can place the request with the British Library.

So we’d like to explore moving to use digital signatures in some way.  I’ve started making some initial enquiries with some contacts around the country, but thought it was probably worth blogging about it too.  I suppose my questions at the moment are:

  • What is the validity of digital signatures under law?
  • Are there any kinds/types of digital signatures that aren’t acceptable?
  • What is the best/most effective approach to take?
  • What are the potential pitfalls and challenges (technological or otherwise?)
  • How was it finally implemented/introduced to the community – for everyone or just those who wished it?

I know Cardiff and Plymouth at least are certainly at various stages of implementing this and so I’ve dropped a line to both of them; but whom else is heading down this path and what wisdom can they share?

Posted in Document Supply | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »