The Association of Research Libraries has identified Colorado State’s Morgan Library as having one the best interlibrary loan services in North America.
In results of a two-year study that measured loan document delivery performance, the Association of Research Libraries reported Colorado State as one of eight outstanding interlibrary loan departments of North American research libraries. Colorado State University was identified as having a high-performing borrowing operation and was the only one of the 97 research library participants that ranked in the top 10 percent of all three borrowing measures – cost incurred when filling a request, percentage of requests successfully filled and request turnaround time.
"We’ve worked hard to incorporate technology into our service package," said Camila Alire, dean of libraries at Colorado State. "As a result, we’ve been able to reduce costs while offering higher-quality, faster service to our patrons."
The interlibrary loan study identifies a number of best practices in place at high-performing libraries. Among these practices is the extensive use of technology and software such as the system Colorado State developed to process its interlibrary loan orders.
Colorado State’s system, called ZAP, requires faculty, staff and students to submit loan orders electronically. ZAP reduces paperwork and allows for a fast turnaround time. According to the Association of Research Libraries, most libraries average four days to send a request to a lender. Colorado State’s ZAP program sends requests immediately.
Another best practice identified by the Association of Research Libraries and employed by Colorado State is the use of Ariel, a high-speed document transfer system. Ariel allows articles from cooperating libraries to be scanned, digitized and transmitted via the Internet to receiving stations that are used by Colorado State undergraduates, graduate students and faculty for research.
The Association of Research Libraries report also includes recommendations for improving interlibrary loan operations. "This study really provides an opportunity for research libraries to learn from each other," said Alire. "Colorado State’s library will be incorporating even more innovative practices as a result of the study. We also have been asked by the association to share our latest software and technology with other libraries. Morgan Library will be serving as the model for other research libraries to replicate."
Other universities identified in the report as having high-performing borrowing operations were University of Chicago, University of Cincinnati, Ohio University and two interlibrary loan units of the University of Illinois-Chicago. The University of Alberta and the University of Wisconsin-Madison were the two research libraries identified as having high-performing lending operations.
The Association of Research Libraries is a non-profit organization made up of 121 libraries of North American research institutions. The interlibrary loan study was funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and undertaken in collaboration with the Council of Library and Information Resources.