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WAAL 2008: Standardization of Interlibrary Lending (ILL)

Posted by on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 in WLA Blog Archive

Standards-based ILL

Terry Wilcox, Reference and Loan Library
Bob Shaw, WiLS

• Directors don’t want to know more about ILL, just want it to work
• We’re using standards all the time, we just don’t know it
• Whenever you search an online database – it’s built on standards - the way it looks for a title, author, ISBN, etc.
• Standards are confusing, so no one talks about them

Why do we have standards?

• Helps software programs talk to eachother
• Help you retrieve information in a way you can understand
• Z39.50 – with Wiscat license (vs. free interface), you can see a lot of resources – takes you into other institution’s online catalog
• Can be developed by different companies, as long as use standards – allows searches across multiple catalogs and databases – can make ILL request
• State agency - we have to re-bid our projects at least every 5 years, regardless of whether there’s another vendor that can do it or not – may sound difficult, but it keeps things changing and evolving, so I don’t get bored

What standards are we using?

• ISO 10161-1 / 10161-2 – international exchange of good and services – could be a cell phone, PDA – much more than ILL/circ – might help you connect with OCLC
• SIP / SIP2 – was never actually adopted as standard, but gave an idea of how systems could connect to produce an end result – developed by 3M for remote patron identification – now NCIP
• NSIP – national standard for circulation


• Equivalency standards for fields across systems allows accurate, narrowed search results
• One interface to search many systems, don’t have to repeat over and over
• WisCat union catalog - 1,205 libraries of all types and sizes – 7 million records for 35 million holdings – 72 online catalogs (WI + MINITEX + LOC + NLM) – see actual availability [my question: what do you do if it’s at LOC?]

What have we done so far?

• Set ourselves up to be a lender through OCLC
• Wiscat libraries (AGent) can request from WiLS (direct into ILLiad)
• If you don’t want to lend out a certain type of material, you won’t get the request – this would be an improvement for OCLC
• WiLS is a broker (handles requests on behalf of multiple libraries) – UW-Madison might get same request 4 times, which makes sense because of multiple libraries – but ILLiad thinks if you cancel initial request, have to cancel all – we came up with workaround

Before you start

• Testing is crucial – every step
• Vendor may claim to have implemented a standard - but maybe not whole standard, or in same way as other vendors
• Test again anytime something changes!
• Small number of problems encountered shouldn’t necessarily stop you from going ahead
• Error messages may not be intuitive
• Address files may all be different, or just codes


• Z39.83 NISO allows actions in ILL or Circ, and opposite action will happen automatically in Circ or ILL (ex: “ship” > “checked out”)
• Not always completed implemented by vendor - may need to buy the fanciest version from vendor to get fullest implementation – ask specifically which ones
• Need to match up every little status change on both sides (ex: accept item, cancel request item, check in item…) – and indicate which side can initiate (or both)
• Many status messages aren’t on NCIP list (ex: recall)

What can you do?

• Encourage administration to request ILS vendors to include standardization
• Don’t recreate the wheel with RFPs – contact other libraries for theirs
• Communicate about potential time/money savings
• LITAC provides guidance to Reference & Loan Library – technology recommendations for all libraries in state – they support standardization
• Most states have systems clearinghouse with hierarchical structure – standards don’t yet recognize reality

Wiscat AGent and ILLiad at WiLS

• ILLiad is more robust and intuitive than AGent or OCLC Resource Sharing
• Consolidated locations to GZM
• 1,500 address records shared
• Just 1 type of “pick slip” for lenders to use – also used as mailing slip and return slip – library system as well as local library printed on slip
• Wanted to move everything online – can use Odyssey/Ariel or “E-doc” for free (by email)
• If citation is bad, or can’t lend but can offer scanning of TOC/index, that note goes into AGent - sometimes doesn’t make it to ILLiad – developing workaround
• Working on improving messages for end-user – rather than “Error – NISO xxxx…”
• Test again each time either side changes something!
• High success rate
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