Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Activity Report Shows Graduate Students are Most Frequent Users of Interlibrary Loan Services

Interlibrary Loan Services (ILS) is the place to go for hard-to-find books, journal articles, and other research materials not held in the Ball State University Libraries’ collections. Last fiscal year, the area obtained 17,587 items for use by members of the Ball State community.

A review of activity during the Fall Semester 2006 showed that graduate students are the heaviest users of ILS, submitting 57% of all requests. They were followed by undergraduates (21%), faculty (15%), and staff (7%).

Not surprisingly, usage by undergraduates increased proportionally with class rank reflecting the increasing sophistication of student research needs as they progress in their college careers.

Undergraduates and university staff were more interested in borrowing books. Graduate students had a much heavier preference for journal articles, while faculty were almost evenly divided in their requests for books and journal articles.

The ability to supply a request, known as the “fill rate,” was very high: 89% for faculty requests, 85% for staff requests, 80% for graduates, and 78% for undergraduate requests.

However, the actual fill rate is significantly higher because the primary reason for canceling an interlibrary loan request is the item is actually available in the Ball State University Libraries’ collections. When such requests come through, the library users are notified so they may readily obtain the requested materials.

The small percentage of remaining unfilled requests is due to circumstances beyond the control of the University Libraries, most often for one of three reasons:
Charges to borrow an item
Copyright limitations
Lending restrictions from the holding institution

Interlibrary Loan Services consistently garners positive comments from library users for the timely services they provide in helping meet the research, teaching, and learning needs of the university community.

For more information, contact Elaine S. Nelson, Ball State University Libraries’ Interlibrary Loan Supervisor, ENelson@bsu.edu, (765) 285-1323.

This newsletter article first appeared in The Library Insider 5(5): 4; May 2007.

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