Physical Delivery of Library Resources Working Group

In July 2009, NISO’s Discovery to Delivery Topic Committee approved a new project proposal to develop a Recommended Practice for the Physical Delivery of Library Resources. The submitted proposal provided evidence that even in this digital age of information library patron borrowing and lending was skyrocketing:

A Library Research Service fact sheet shows that for nationwide ILL borrowing, returnable rates are up 40.8% between 2000 and 2006, and in Colorado that increase is 107.4%.

A Primary Research Group study found that 77% of academic libraries participate in state or provincial resource sharing networks above and beyond the 10,000,000 interlibrary loan (ILL ) transactions that OCLC annually processes.

The same Primary Research Group study found that the mean annual amount paid by individual academic libraries for delivery was $6,856, with some libraries paying as high as $60,000.

A 2008 survey published in Moving Materials: Physical Delivery in Libraries found that library delivery systems are moving millions of items a year. One system reported 15 million deliveries.

A Library Research Service 2008 survey showed that library delivery systems can cost as much as $2,250,000 depending on the amount of materials moved.

The rapid growth in resource sharing is causing similar growth in both the use and costs of delivery systems. At $4.00 per USPS ILL transaction, we estimated that American libraries are paying over $25,000,000 to ship interlibrary loan items by mail each year.

These growing costs at the same time that libraries are experiencing budget difficulties has increased the pressure to become more efficient and effective in the resource sharing of physical materials. Additionally many libraries, consortiums, and vendors had developed their systems and procedures for managing delivery independently, which was creating more difficulties as libraries began trying to interoperate with other delivery systems to expand resource sharing.

Three different groups that had been formed to share knowledge about delivery expressed interest in working with NISO:

  1. Moving Mountains Project − an ad hoc group with a steering committee of nine library delivery experts
  2. Rethinking Resource Sharing’s Physical Delivery Committee − a group of fourteen library delivery experts focusing on home delivery, international delivery, and the impact of digitization on delivery services
  3. American Library Association’s Association of Specialized Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA ), Interlibrary Cooperation & Networking Section − sponsors a Physical Delivery Discussion Group that meets at every ALA Annual and Midwinter Conference and regularly sponsors programs at ALA conferences on delivery

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