One of the most interesting challenges to the effectiveness of Library Services is Distance Education or remote user services. Not surprisingly, we have to see this as an opportunity to think outside the box, and think outside we must. I have on several presentation used a skit to show how the hold for pickup model for Interlibrary Services doesn't quite cut it for many users, and in the case of remote users, the double delivery dilemma (3Ds) makes even less sense. 3Ds means we borrow a book from another Library, handle it and re-ship it to our user's home; when they re-ship it to us, we re-handle it, and re-ship it to the lending Library (make sense??)
This makes services like Denmark's Books To Your Doorstep, and pilot's like OCLC's Montana Worldcat Delivery so important to consider. However, it isn't just a case where direct borrowing or Direct Delivery makes sense, in fact, we found that sometimes the numbers tell a different tale. Angie T. at UVa Library helped us look at our DE ILL requests, and we found that for about 6% of our requests that could be purchased - could be purchased for only $1 and rush shipped for less than $4. So, do we treat this as an ILL borrow, or an ILL copy - we purchase the book for the user. Interestingly enough, several colleagues have said this idea doesn't quite sound right; first because of procurement policies, and the other is a disdain for purchasing books for users (a format thing we have - ILL can pay up to $60 per article (lender fee + copyright)) and just giving it away... Good news, our Procurement Office has said it's OK, because it makes economic sense - and so we can test and compare cost, speed, and customer satisfaction.
So, what are we to do with the idea of purchasing books for our users? Comments/Suggestions?
The added irony of this idea is in the testing, I purchased several $1 books for myself to evaluate what dollar books in "good condition" really meant. In most cases, they were Library withdraws and many from Better World books. Is this resource sharing with a third party vendor?