Electronic InterLibrary Loans

You wrote:


I would like to suggest (not for the first time) that Concordia  begin to adopt a more forward-thinking approach with regards to document  delivery. For the
library to print out paper copies of articles requested  as interlibrary loans is a waste of paper and of the library user’s time.   Many of us work off campus, and should not have to physically go to the library in order to pick up an article.

When I inquired of a librarian today why ILLs are only available for physical pickup as paper copies, I was told that this was a necessity due to copyright law.  At this time, as you must be aware, most journal articles are accessed through the internet in pdf form. To download such an article is not a breach of copyright. There is no reason that an ILL should be treated any differently. …..

In addition, my own personal library (and this would appear to be common among my colleagues) of articles is kept in pdf form – so any article that I am
forced to pick up as paper, I must then scan in order to keep with other files of the same type – thus frustrating Concordia’s effort to maintain a paper-only system.  Concordia library cannot control the medium of these articles after pickup. This policy only forces users to work more slowly; it has no effect on the wider accessibility of the articles. If we wanted to share them (which frankly we don’t), we certainly have the technology to do so.

Moving to pdfs for ILLs would seem to be an inevitability – when can we expect this change at Concordia?

Andréa Harland, Head, Interlibrary Loans & Media Services, Webster Library replied:

Thank you for your email. Your sentiments are shared by many if not by most of Concordia Libraries Interlibrary Loans (ILL) users and library staff. We are currently looking into employing a system that would provide articles electronically via ILL, and hopefully it might be possible to have it in place by the beginning of the coming year.

Copyright is unfortunately not an easy topic to navigate. Mixed in with it are questions about database licensing (many of the articles you get online are only available to you because Concordia Libraries pays for a subscription to a database; some databases have licenses that put restrictions on how their digital contents can be disseminated). Here in Quebec we have been tentative about testing the law, but I am very aware this is not the case elsewhere. Quebec university libraries are part of the CREPUQ consortia (http://www.crepuq.qc.ca/spip.php?article31&lang=en)  and we share the system that makes ILL possible, i.e. Colombo. Just recently has a method for providing articles electronically via Colombo been available to us. In the province of Quebec only one university now provides article requests via ILL electronically (Université de Sherbrooke), and only as of this summer. With the new Copyright Act providing more favourable provisions for providing ILL electronically I think that many in Quebec will soon follow.

Your letter and others I have received show the need for this change and it is in part due to your input that we are considering moving forward with providing articles electronically via ILL. But as it is a matter that has legal ramifications we want to make sure we get it right the first time.

Thank you again for your feedback.


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