Many interlibrary loans departments are seeing their remit change at the moment, and we at the University of Essex have been no exception. Most recently, we have been involved in a new digitisation project, linked to our reading list system Talis Aspire. This should provide an interesting addition to the work of the department, beyond our traditional ILL activities.
Previously, the ILL department would request copyright fee paid paper copies of articles and chapters not held in the library at the request of our subject librarians. However, library services and students’ expectations have moved on. With our reading lists and so many of the library’s resources online, we needed to catch up. In our new system, digitisation requests can be made by librarians or lecturers themselves via their reading lists, and will then be handled by ILL, either scanned from our own collection or purchased from the British Library via EHESS or elsewhere. Further to this, we will be digitising our previous paper copy collection and digitising extracts from physical items in our collection to add to reading lists. Helping to set up the system and making sure it works as effectively as possible will take some time and effort, but will be well worth it, particularly for our students, who will be able to access these digitisations quickly, easily and remotely- a great improvement from our current service.
The work of interlending and document delivery departments has changes a lot in recent years, particularly as technologies have developed, and it looks like this won’t be stopping any time soon. One outcome of this is that ILL is being increasingly entwined with activities such as digitisation, and this goes to show how this area of library and information work is evolving to keep up with the digital world in which we are operating, all to the benefit of our users.
I’m really looking forward, along with my colleagues at Essex, to getting our teeth into this project, and seeing how it changes our work in ILL.