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Re: lost? in the ILL future

Kimberly Parker has said:
>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.

This is one of the nails to hit on the head.

In this discussion I am mainly concerned with the ILL activity as it
relates to those materials accessible electronically.  ILL (access) for
paper materials is a very different matter.  I believe that ILL is all
about providing access to the inaccessible.

ILL does cost money (staff resources are not free.)  It costs the
borrowing library as well as the lending one.  I understand that not all
libraries can afford to own all of these titles--Cornell certainly can't
and we're better off than many--but the library should be able to assist
its patrons through document delivery.  Wouldn't that be one of its
central missions? If they do not have sufficient funding to subsidize
their own patrons, then they certainly have a problem.  But it's
essentially THEIR problem. 

We've got our own problems, too.  We are very willing to work with others
to share the problems and the solutions, but we simply can no longer afford
to give away to non Cornell Community patrons when struggling to give to
those whose tuition dollars support our local collections.  Hard choices
have to be made.  Traditions may have to change.  If cooperation is not a
two-way street, then someone is going to have to install a toll booth.

What does it cost to acquire an article via ILL?  How much more does it
cost to acquire that article directly from the IP or through a document
delivery service?    

Rather than the library conducting an ILL borrow transaction (some
estimates are that an average ILL request costs $18 to process from each
end), why not subsidize a patron initiated document delivery transaction
for $20?  (I know, $20 is not going to go too far towards procuring those
$90 articles.)

In an ideal (lower case) world, information would be affordable to all. 
"Freeloaders" would not be a burden.

Realistically, the research institutions, among others, are facing (and
have been for years) budget cutbacks and reengineering to do more with
less.  Is ILL the sacred cow which will be preserved while we cancel
titles unique to our collections and leave vacated positions unfilled? 

If not, then let's face this fact and approach the licensing table with
one fewer sticking points/

I think that Steve Heller raises another valid, yet daunting
prospect--that of universities taking a more direct role in the scholarly
publishing process.  What would be more daunting, I fear, is to consider
paying $1,000 per article.  What an incentive! 


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