19 December 2012

Interlibrary loan and LAC

I had the opportunity to speak with a manager from Library and Archives Canada, who wished to remain anonymous, about the organization's role in Interlibrary loan (ILL). It's a talk I'd been hoping to have for some while?

He noted that, as reported in La Presse, and in this post from Library Boy, LAC will now only be making loans as a lender of last resort, when no other available copy can be located in Canada after a diligent search.

LAC will continue to operate and maintain the Amicus database which will facilitate libraries across Canada locating available copies.

Materials available on microfilm, and for which intellectual property rights make it possible, will be available digitally from LAC at 40 cents per page.

LAC is aiming to digitize its public domain materials over the next three years, such as newspapers more than 90 years old. No digitization arrangements are in yet place to do so, nor are they anticipated to be in place for several months. As we know at LAC, nothing good happens quickly if at all.

These changes at LAC were explained as necessary because of the organization budget cut and in light of a continuing drop in demand for ILL service. Last year there were 34,000 requests for material loans. The trend continued this year and the drop would have been several thousand more if the program had continued.

Recent requests comprise roughly one third books and monographs, one third microfilms, and one third other such as theses and government publications. A substantial part was requests from inside the federal government. Many of the ILL requests could not be met for various reasons, perhaps only a preservation copy available or too fragile.


Apparently LAC has made no evaluation of the impact of these changes on Canadian libraries and their more than 25,000 ILL clients! Will LAC decide it can ignore a similar number of clients who visit 395 Wellington and close public access entirely?


Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to see what real impact the change in loaning publications has on research. My guess is the impact will be minimal: other than newspapers, the collection is not that unique and copies can be found through the major university libraries or the large city libraries.

Anonymous said...

Just as a note. Universities charge for interlibrary loan materials and public libraries never loan rare local history materials or microfilm. If a researcher can afford $20 every time they borrow a book from an academic source, then this might be a solution. As a person who works in interlibrary loan at a public library, I do know there will be an impact on researchers particularly ones who aren't well-heeled.