RLI 275 ( C O N T I N U E D ) 12White Paper: International Interlibrary Loan
produced by academic rights holders. In 2007–2008, the 123 libraries comprising
the Association of Research Libraries alone spent approximately US$870 million
on current serial subscriptions.10 Libraries expend ever-larger portions of their
increasingly stretched budgets on materials, especially scientific, technical, and
medical serials, the costs of which have increased at staggering rates in the past
decades. Rather than attempting to avoid paying rights holders, libraries are the
chief source of revenue for academic publications.
Libraries work with publishers to establish license agreements that allow
interlibrary lending, which is factored into the price of the agreement. Overall,
ILL offices work very hard to conform to agreements, laws, and guidelines in
their practices, often erring on the side of not providing licensed content when
lending rights are silent or unknown. As print subscriptions diminish, lending
from licensed content will take on increasing importance to interlibrary lending.
If there are more restrictions on lending of licensed content there will be a larger
gap between the material available to local patrons and what can be shared
through ILL. That distinction is new, as licensed content becomes the preferred
format in collections.
Library lending internationally is an important activity of research libraries.
If limits are placed in the US on lending internationally, research libraries may
find it more challenging to obtain materials from foreign countries to meet the
research needs of their own users. Ultimately, this would serve to stifle research
and limit creativity.
As noted previously, IFLA’s guidelines state that “each country has a special
responsibility to supply its own national imprints to libraries in other countries”
in order to promote “universal availability of published material,” and “that all
reasonable efforts should be made to satisfy international requests.”11 These
guidelines succinctly describe the mission and responsibilities of libraries in
support of access to knowledge. Challenges to current international ILL practices
could significantly undermine this carefully crafted and balanced set of
important resource-sharing activities.
Second, research and education is increasingly a global enterprise. As a
result, there is an increased demand for international research resources and
this demand blurs national borders. By engaging with our international
partners, research libraries build relationships with libraries and institutions
JUNE 2011 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A QUARTERLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC