18 February 2013

60 Years of Interlibrary Loan Service Ends

The following is a note on behalf of the staff of the Interlibrary Loan Service of Library and Archives Canada. I'm informed that in the absence of this service hundreds of requests for material previously handled by ILL are backed up.

The Interlibrary Loan Service of Library and Archives Canada closed last Friday, February 15 2013.
We have been a major part of a 60-year tradition of helping Canadian libraries and their patrons gain access to Canadian publications. The National Library of Canada began sending information to other libraries about where to locate titles their clients were looking for in the early 1950's, when the National Union Catalogue began. Lending from our own collection came a little later; the National Librarian's annual report of 1960 states that in FY 1958-1959, the Library lent 150 items and answered 8,280 requests for locations. Thirty years later, we were handling 150,000 requests per year.
The ensuing decades saw breathtaking technological change, and the ILL services of the NLC, and later LAC, were early adopters. NLC began filling requests for journal articles in the 1960's, driving our use of photocopying, fax transmission and several methods of online delivery. The National Library led the way both nationally and internationally in coordinating the development of standards that, to this day, allow different ILL management systems to exchange requests and follow-up messages with minimal human intervention.
As AMICUS and other library catalogues became freely available online, the use of our locations service declined, and loans became the focus of our service. In fiscal year 2011-2012, LAC filled 21,294 requests for loans and copies from our collections, and provided locations in response to another 11,658 requests.
All of us are proud to have been part of this service. To our friends and colleagues, thank-you, good-bye and good luck.
Thanks to the staff members who provided this service, now terminated by the Harper government. That's Canada's Economic Action Plan at work for you.


Jane MacNamara said...

One of those 29,000 interloan requests in 2012 was from me. I live in Toronto, with a magnificent public library system, and the libraries of the University of Toronto, York University, and Ryerson University. The early Windsor/Detroit area records I needed were only available from Library and Archives Canada. I'm grateful that I was able to view them close to home, and shocked by the implications for researchers who have less access to resources.

delynnpar said...

I was another of the 29,000 requests. As I live on Vancouver Island and the only option to view the item I needed was either go to Ottawa in person which I could not financially manage, or use the Interlibrary loan service it was an easy decision. I am grateful that option was available and am deeply saddened that such a valuable service is no longer.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations LAC! Almost ten years old and hardly any signs of life. It’s obvious that almost 30,000 requests and loans are too much to be bothered with. Let other libraries pick up the slack! They are still thinking about serving the public, of course, and this is passé now at LAC.

Closure of interlibrary loan fits well with other new LAC policies such weakening of the Union Catalogue, less Canadian materials being acquired, high fees for room rentals, a bleak looking first floor without any displays, cutbacks of professional services, etc. etc.

LAC is a new type of knowledge institution without much of a national role left to play in providing services and infrastructure that support Canadians or other libraries. What a shame.

Terry Murray said...

Thanks for posting this. Maybe we should gather up all the special 1812 anniversary quarters and send them to Ottawa, earmarked for the return of ILL. This government has the worst policies - "wonky," if you want to be playful; "destructive" and "anti-Canadian" if you want to take it seriously - of any federal government in my 35 years of living in this country.

Gerald Parker said...

Well, there will be some "poetic justice" (although not enough of it!) when those who seek materials to write about the Stevereeno Harpoon and "New" Tory majority government years will find less material about them in the national collection, and what little will be there from efforts to collect in these axquistions-starved L.A.C. years will be unavailable to supply to researchers by I.L.L. The Tories will have a big, gaping hole in the documentation of their own, tawdry reign. Of course, they expect everyone to look only for their own propaganda materials for such efforts, but no self-respecting scholarm now or later, would be content with just that!

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