Interlibrary Lending Online

Fredrick G. Kilgour

    Soon after the Second World War, various presidents of Ohio colleges and universities persuaded the entire group of presidents that comprised the Ohio College Association to seek means of making available to students and faculty of each institution the books and journals in the libraries of all Ohio institutions. Persistence led to incorporation in 1967 of the Ohio College Library Center (OCLC: a dozen years later the name was changed to Online Computer Library Center) and later that year I was appointed the executive officer, the first employee.
    OCLC's first and second long-time goals have been "1. To increase availability of library resources to library patrons; 2. To lower the rate of rise of library per-unit costs." To achieve these goals, an online cataloging system that reduced cataloging costs and simultaneously produced an online union catalog that revealed location of books and journals in participatory libraries was designed, constructed, and activated on August 26, 1971. Interlibrary lending was carried out by mail.
    Surprisingly soon after activation, it became anecdotally apparent that interlibrary lending by Ohio academic libraries was increasing, and six years later a study was carried out whose findings were, indeed, gratifying (Kilgour, 1979a, 1979b, 1984a, 1984b). Interlibrary lending by Ohio libraries was increasing dramatically; information was increasingly available. At the time of the study, OCLC's online catalog contained slightly more than three million entries, and approximately twelve hundred libraries were participating. Thirty-seven Ohio academic libraries possessed adequate data to participate in the study; they furnished interlibrary lending counts for three years before activation, 1968/69 - 1970/71, and for the following six years, 1971/72 - 1976/77.

    Twenty-one had lent a yearly average of none to 99 during the three-year period; 5 had lent an average of 100 to 199; and 11 had lent 200 or more titles. Figure 1 depicts these averages, as well as averages for the six years following activation in early 1971/72. Beginning with the third year after activation of the online system there was a sharp increase in interlibrary lending. The 37 libraries experienced a growth in interlibrary loans that was 75% higher than it would have been had they not participated in the OCLC online system. As can be seen in Figure 1, the increase in the two smaller lending categories was dramatic. Percentage increase for the 0-99 group was 1,437%; for the 100-199 group, 1,179%; while the 200 plus group was only 241%. Five of the first group had never lent a title to another library during the initial three-year period, but by 1974/75 all 21 were participating in interlibrary lending.
    After a trial period throughout the spring of 1978, OCLC activated its new online Interlibrary Loan Subsystem on July 1, 1978 and began charging for each request to borrow. Daily average for the first month was 1,488 transactions on 372,000 transactions a year. The 1997/98 OCLC Annual Report recorded 8.2 million online interlibrary loans transacted. In other words, OCLC has attained its first goal by increasing "availability of library resources to [8.2 million] library patrons."
    Surprisingly soon after activation, it became anecdotally apparent that interlibrary lending by Ohio academic libraries was increasing, and six years later a study was carried out whose findings were, indeed, gratifying (Kilgour, 1979a, 1979b, 1984a, 1984b). Interlibrary lending by Ohio libraries was increasing dramatically; information was increasingly available. At the time of the study, OCLC's online catalog contained slightly more than three million entries, and approximately twelve hundred libraries were participating. Thirty-seven Ohio academic libraries possessed adequate data to participate in the study; they furnished interlibrary lending counts for three years before activation, 1968/69 - 1970/71, and for the following six years, 1971/72 - 1976/77.

References:

Kilgour, F. G. (1979a). Increased UAP effected by an online union catalog. Interlending Review, 7(l), 20-22.

Kilgour, F. G. (1979). Interlibrary loans online. Library Journal, 104 (4), 460-463.

Kilgour, F. G. (1984a). Increased UAP effected by an online union catalog. Collected Papers of Frederick G. Kilgour: OCLC Years, 401-403.

Kilgour, F. G. (1984b). Interlibrary loans online. Collected Papers of Frederick G. Kilgour:

OCLC Years. 405-409.

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