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RE: ILL Lost? in the future...

Just a few comments from an ILL supervisor who works in a special
library with good funding support.
Kimberly Parker writes:
> The segment I am referring to is composed of very small special libraries
> who cannot afford to subscribe to expensive journals.  Yes, some special
> libraries have money.  Others (some hospital libraries come to mind) do
> not.  In the print world, these libraries have traditionally relied on
> interlibrary loan to fulfill  their information needs for all but a very
> core set of journals.  I would suspect that due to small numbers of
> clientele, they also don't regularly hit the CONTU "wall".
> In an electronic world with no ILL, what are they facing?

> I suppose that there are those who would argue that they've been
> freeloading off of the rest of us, but isn't that the tradition (in US
> libraries at least)?  Free access to information by those who need it...
> We all know that someone is subsidizing this "free" information, but that
> is the point.  There are large research institutions who have taken that
> subsidization as part of their mission.

> As we think about the future of ILL, we also need to remember all that it
> has been doing, so we can consciously decide that each aspect is no longer
> workable or desirable.

 I work in a health sciences library.  The changes in health care
 funding have brought with it a rethinking of who now pays for what,
 what is the institution getting for its money, and who _should_ be
 paying for what.  Institutions are being squeezed from  the
 federal and state governments to justify every cost, every
 service, and every price charged for a product or service.
 In my institution, ILL is a "service center" following federal
 guidelines for calculating the price we can charge for an ILL to
 someone who wants to pay for that ILL with federal grant money.  We
 have reciprocal borrowing/lending arrangements with a few health
 sciences libraries and the state academic library network.  (The
 state network reimburses for some costs.)  In this environment
 everybody pays.  We are negotiating with the school of medicine for
 the costs of operating the library for its program in another city as
 well as negotiating with the campus hospital so that the hospital pays its
 fair share for the services and products the library provides
 directly to their physicians, nurses and other staff.
 This library use to be fairly generous in the past, as Kimberly
 suggests, about helping the less-well-funded.  That was all right
 with the institution who saw it as part of its community outreach.
 As mentioned before, political forces no longer make this easy.  Our
 institution and all of its components are looking closely at each one
 of these "free" or "non cost recovery" areas or services to see if it
 is still in the institution's best interest to do this and how it
 should be funded.
 It's a hard world out there.  Information is a commodity (not like
 Chicago but could be) and not free.  Who pays for what is now the
 question and the answers are not pleasing to every one.
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