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Re: Lending, reserves, archives definitions

-What is "lending" in a digital environment? Does the concept mean
anything online? Note that, if you are making a copy, you are not lending. 
Personally, I doubt that you can "lend" anything online - but I'm willing
to be persuaded otherwise. 

Most libraries divide their interlibrary loan/document delivery 
functions into two parts.  Lending describes those activities in 
which the library provides information for external users (other 
libraries, usually).  Borrowing describes those activites in which 
the library obtains information from external sources for its own 
students, faculty, staff, researchers.  The electronic environment 
has certainly changed the functions--if not the terminology. 

Most libraries include under lending the activities involved in  
sending items regardless of format to another library.  So, if a 
library sends a photocopy in response to a request for an 
article--it is a lending transaction--even if the lending library 
knows nothing will be returned.  The ILL messaging system on OCLC 
accomodates this by identifying copies and not requiring notification 
that they have been returned.  Likewise--sending  electronic text in 
response to an ILL  request would still qualify as lending--except 
that it is prohibited by most licenses.

---electronic reserves (relates to lending: again, I suspect that 
there can be no such thing as "electronic reserves", in the strict 

Most academic libraries have large reserve collections that are set 
aside for specific classes.  A professor may require all students to 
read an article--so the library gets permission (and pays 
royalities) to make a certain number of copies to put "on reserve."  
This saves students the frustration of not finding the specific 
volume on the shelf because someone left it on a table in the reading 
room.  Some schools arrange for "coursepacks"--making copies of all 
required readings.  These coursepacks are usually sold to students 
for the cost of production.  Of course, schools must pay for the 
privilege of making copies--a subject for litigation when this has 
been overlooked.

The  ability to put an electronic copy on reserve is highly 
desirable for libraries.  Students can go to the library web page, 
identify their class, see the list of articles they must read, click 
and read the text (or download it to their own PC).  Again, vendors 
or publisher expect to be compensated for this. 

---electronic archives

Electronic archives are a major concern for libraries moving to 
electronic access from retention of print formats.  If it is 
accessible to them ONLY in electronic format, is it being archived by 
the publisher.  If archived, will it be accessible at some future 
date.  Will that part I licensed this year be accessible even if I 
drop my license next year.  Can I archive it locally (both in terms 
of permission from the publisher and technical capability).  For how 
long. (Also, in terms of what the publisher allows and local 
limitations on storage)  Will technology allow me to use it 50 years 
from now.

---electronic backup (Is there any difference between the two?)

Electronic backup is primarily for the here and now.  If my access 
goes down--can I get it back.  Some libraries using vendors' remote 
servers for access are asking for copies on CD-ROM for back-up.  If 
the vendor's server goes down, they can (with some inconvenience) 
load the CD on a local tower and still provide service to their 
users.  Of course, this is not a reasonable solution for  massive 
databases.  In our consortium, some libraries with databases loaded 
locally have negotiated provisions in their licenses that provide for 
alternatives in the event something happens to their access.  Some 
identify another subscribing library--and work out agreements to be 
each other's back-up in case local access fails.  For a 
license in which more than one institution shares the database, the 
host insitution has permission to ship the tapes (or CDs)  to another 
of the participating insitutions to maintain service for all the 
partners if something happens locally.  So no, archives and back-up 
are not the same.

Hope this helps.

The questions may seem innocuous at first glance, but they have important


Sue O. Medina
Network of Alabama Academic Libraries
PO Box 302000
Montgomery, AL  36130-2000
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