One way that research libraries strive to meet the needs of patrons is through
interlibrary loan (ILL). The mission of ILL is to provide access to materials for
local patrons and to lend materials to other institutions. ILL services supplement
libraries’ collections by providing access to materials needed for research,
scholarship, and private study that are not available at a user’s home institution.
ILL is a research library activity that occurs between two different
institutions. Research and academic libraries place ILL requests on behalf of
faculty, staff, and students for returnable items (e.g., books, audiovisual
materials, microfilm) and non-returnable items (e.g., copies of journal articles,
conference papers), usually to obtain material that is out of scope for the home
collection or to support the specialized research interest of one of their users.
ILL offices supply materials from a variety of countries to other countries.
Over the past year, questions have been raised concerning the current ILL
practices of some US research libraries. In particular, the focus is on the delivery
of resources from US libraries to non–US libraries. The concerns seem to be that
these international, non–US libraries do not have to adhere to US copyright law.
ARL established a Task Force on International Interlibrary Loan and
Document Delivery Practices to better understand the current international
ILL practices of research libraries, to evaluate the concerns of selected scientific,
technical, and medical (STM) publishers, and to formulate a response to
publisher concerns. One tenet of the task force deliberations was to ensure
that the research library community takes full advantage of its legal privileges
Data Gathering and Analysis
In support of the task force’s work, ARL convened three Working Groups
on International Interlibrary Loan, Trends in Licensing, and US Law and
International Interlibrary Loan. Members of the working groups are expert
practitioners in the community and work within ARL libraries and ARL.
Working group members collaborated over a period of several weeks to provide
timely background and analysis to inform the task force’s deliberations. For
example, members of the Working Group on Trends in Licensing examined the
negotiated licenses at two ARL libraries, the generic licenses on the EBSCO site,
as well as the STM publisher association member list. The Working Group on
US Law and International Interlibrary Loan reviewed copyright law and
international agreements pertaining to ILL. And the Working Group on
Report of the Task Force on International Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery Practices
C O N T I N U E D
JUNE 2011 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A QUARTERLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC