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April 15, 2008
Contact: Dan Siebersma

Facilitating Interlibrary Loan in South Dakota

I am pleased to announce that the State Library Board, at their meeting earlier this week, approved a number of actions designed to ease the impact of recent changes in the State Library's role in providing ILL, and to encourage libraries to participate in providing this valuable service to their patrons.

Background
As the South Dakota State Library made the transition from its old operating paradigm to its new mission and strategic plan, one of the most immediate impacts came in the State Library's role in the interlibrary loan (ILL) process. In this case, the change in the state’s role can best be described as the “cold turkey” method rather than a “weaning” process. One effect of this approach was the creation of a void in the availability of ILL services to residents across the state. Many libraries have willingly stepped in to help fill this void; others, for a variety of reasons, have been reluctant to do so. As a result, ILL availability throughout South Dakota is uneven.

The ultimate solution to this problem will require a re-thinking and overhaul of the entire ILL system. But the State Library Board believes it is also important to take some short-term actions to shore up and improve the current system while we work on its new-and-improved replacement. To that end, the Board has adopted a 3-point interim plan to help libraries cope with the immediate fallout of the changes.

Interim ILL Relief Plan
The State Library Board approved the following three steps as an interim plan to ease the impact of the recent changes on local libraries:

  • SDSL will absorb the full cost of our current courier delivery contract with Minitex. This will free up some local money, especially in some of our most active ILL lenders, to help compensate for the extra ILL burden they are now carrying.
  • SDSL will establish a fund to subsidize mailing costs for local libraries who utilize the US mail for ILL lending purposes. (This will also help speed up delivery by avoiding the delays caused by libraries sending materials to the State Library, rather than directly to recipient libraries.)
  • SDSL will establish a fund to “hold harmless” local libraries who cannot recover the costs of lost materials from patrons.

The precise implementation details for the latter two still need to be developed, but here is an overview of how all three will likely work:

Courier Costs
Implementation of this step will be quite simple: The libraries which had been previously billed for this service will not be billed for this year.

Mailing Costs
The State Library will subsidize the cost of mailing ILL materials to borrowing libraries. The subsidy fund has been established at $40,000 for the year. The final amount of the subsidy will depend upon the total requests for reimbursement. While the final details of how this program will work are still being worked out by State Library staff, I would anticipate that we will call for applications for reimbursement on a six-month basis, with $20,000 being allocated for each six-month period. If the total applications are less than that amount, reimbursement will be made at 100%; if they total more than $20,000, reimbursement will be made at a corresponding percentage. Reimbursements will only be made for the costs of sending out loaned materials, not returning borrowed materials.

Further details will be forthcoming, but in the meantime if you will be interested in participating in this program, you should begin to keep records of your postage costs for outgoing ILL materials.

Lost Materials
One of the reasons cited by a number of libraries for their reluctance to participate in ILL, as a borrower for their patrons, is the fear of the cost of reimbursing lending libraries for materials lost (or not returned) by the borrowing patrons. To alleviate this fear, the State Library Board has established a fund for “holding harmless” the borrowing library for materials not returned by a patron. Again, implementation details are being worked out by State Library staff, but at a minimum, libraries applying for reimbursement will have to certify that they have taken appropriate steps to try to recover the materials or the cost of the materials from the patron. This fund has been established at $1,000, with total reimbursements capped at this amount.

Further details will be forthcoming.

Conclusion
This three-step approach is intended as an immediate Band-Aid for the current ILL ills, not as a long-term solution. I believe they will give us some breathing room to develop a more effective and efficient system. These are interim steps only, and will not continue indefinitely. They have initially been approved for one year, and while I anticipate that they may continue for another year or so after that, they will not go on forever. Instead, we all need to work on creating an effective and efficient 21st Century ILL system for South Dakota.

If you have any questions about this, please let me know.

--Dan

Dan Siebersma
State Librarian
South Dakota State Library
800 Governors Drive
Pierre, SD 57501-2294
605-773-3131 or in-state 1-800-423-6665
dan.siebersma@state.sd.us

This article has been archived and may not be current.
December 2010
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