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Ways in Which ILL Usage Influences Collection Development Policies and Practices in CARLI Libraries


The CARLI Resource Sharing Committee's* annual project for 2017-18 analyzes the ways in which interlibrary loan (heretofore referred to as ILL) usage influences collection development policies and practices in CARLI libraries. Our work on this project focuses on interlibrary loan and resource sharing activities for returnable items in Illinois academic libraries. The Committee conducted a literature review and found that current literature on Illinois-specific resource sharing practices were not readily available. We then decided to focus on the data provided by academic libraries in Illinois through a survey sent out to the CARLI Resource Sharing listserv in March 2018.

We analyzed data provided by 69 responding CARLI libraries to understand how interlibrary loan statistics impact the decisions made when purchasing materials for a collection. This analysis will be useful for libraries wishing to address resource/budget allocation, library policy review, collection justification, and example workflow documentation. Some of the information collected from the survey included: the different ways libraries use ILL data/statistics to influence collection development, whether ILL based purchases are prioritized based on patron status, and methods used to assess successful use of purchased ILL materials. We also included case studies of three CARLI institutions--Loyola University Chicago, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the College of DuPage--to better illustrate the means/methods utilized by specific libraries in employing ILL statistics to make collection development decisions, including implementing a Patron-driven acquisitions model (PDA) program.**

For those interested in greater detail on this subject, we have included an annotated bibliography of articles and a list of book recommendations that reflect a variety of ways in which ILL usage influences collection development.

*The CARLI Resource Sharing Committee for 2017-18 consists of the following members: Debbie Campbell (CARLI Staff Liaison), Belinda Cheek (North Central College), Eric Edwards (Co-Chair, Illinois State Library), Lorna Engels (CARLI Staff Liaison), Kelly Fisher (Eureka College), Rand Hartsell (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Lisa Horsley (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum), Thomas Mantzakides (Co-Chair, Morton College), Sarah McHone-Chase (Northern Illinois University), Amanda Roberts (University of Illinois at Springfield), and Jennifer Stegen (Loyola University Chicago).

**For the purposes of this study, we are using the following definition for PDA: "Patron-Driven Acquisitions (PDA) refers to a formal plan or program where librarians develop criteria for selecting books that will be bought based on patrons' requests of use." -Ward, S. M. (2012). Guide to Implementing & Managing Patron-Driven Acquisitions. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

Existing CARLI Documentation on using ILL statistics with Collection Development:

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The committee decided that an online survey sent to CARLI libraries would be the best way to obtain information on how these libraries were using ILL data to influence collection development.

Because the project involved aspects of collection development, our committee contacted CARLI’s Collection Development Committee to make sure we weren’t covering similar topics that they would be addressing in their work. Once that was clarified, committee members drafted potential survey questions that were added to a Google Doc for review and discussion. The final questions were selected by member vote. A sub-committee was then formed to refine the wording of the questions and to review definitions of the term “Patron Driven Acquisitions” and its variants.  

After working on the questions, a concern was expressed that a series of short answer questions would lead to a low response rate. Most of the questions were then converted into multiple choice responses with the option of a follow-up phone call for more details. The names of the respondents to the survey questions were to be kept anonymous.  

Seven questions were ultimately selected, and on March 9th, a link to the survey on was sent out to a listserv used by CARLI staff members to exchange information about resource sharing practices. The survey was kept open for one month to account for potential library closures during spring breaks across the consortium. An emailed reminder to take the survey was sent out on March 26th.

Of the total number of CARLI libraries, 51% responded to the survey, yielding a total of 69 responses.

The charts below are meant to visualize the data.
(See Appendix for list of survey questions)

Library Departments of Respondents

Chart shows the responses to the survey question, "In what library area/department do you primarily work?" Answers include: Access Services=19; Access Services & Other=1; Access Services & Collection Development=7; Access Services, Collection Development and Other=6; Collection Development=13; Collection Development & Other=7; Other=16
Figure 1: "In what library area/department do you primarily work? [select all that apply]"

This chart summarizes the background of the 69 survey respondents, who were asked to choose all applicable options. The most popular category, with 19 respondents, or 28%, was Access Services, which we define as Interlibrary Loan, Circulation, and other such library functions. Surprisingly, the second most popular category was “Other.” Respondents in this category performed duties in Library Administration, Archives, Technical Services, Instruction--tasks performed throughout the library, either in conjunction with Access Services or Collection Development, or on their own.

Frequency of Statistical Use

Does your library use Ill data or statistics to influence collection development? Answers include: Not at all=4; Rarely=15; Occasionally=40; Frequently=8
Figure 2: "Does your library use ILL data or statistics to influence collection development?"

Of the 67 respondents to our survey question about whether their library uses ILL data or statistics to influence collection development, 48 of them, or about 72%, indicated that they did “Occasionally” or “Frequently,” with the greater number of those leaning towards “Occasionally.” Only 4 respondents, 6%, do not use ILL data or statistics at all in making their collection development decisions.

Frequency of Statistical Use by Library Department of Respondent

Summary for Chart Response Count of Responses
Access Services Frequently 1
Access Services Occasionally 11
Access Services Rarely 5
Access Services Not at all 2
Access Services & Collection Development Frequently 1
Access Services & Collection Development Occasionally 4
Access Services & Collection Development Rarely 2
Access Services & Other Occasionally 1
Access Services, Collection Development, & Other Frequently 1
Access Services, Collection Development, & Other Occasionally 2
Access Services, Collection Development, & Other Rarely 1
Access Services, Collection Development, & Other Not at all 2
Collection Development Frequently 1
Collection Development Occasionally 8
Collection Development Rarely 4
Collection Development & Other Frequently 1
Collection Development & Other Occasionally 3
Collection Development & Other Rarely 2
Collection Development & Other Left Blank 1
Other Frequently 3
Other Occasionally 12
Other Rarely 1

Figure 3: This chart combines the survey data from Figure 1 and Figure 2.

The 69 survey respondents work in a variety of library departments, with "Access Services" and "Other" being the most common (see Figure 1), and, for the most part, they use interlibrary data or statistics only occasionally to make collection-development decisions (see Figure 2). Looking at how often each department uses these statistics, none of them stands out as using them either "Frequently" or "Rarely." The "Occasionally" category is the most popular across departments, although the category sees higher use in departments that work by themselves, as opposed to collaboratively. Perhaps these departments that work more collaboratively are more likely to have access to statistics, by virtue of pooling their resources. Conversely, however, the "Not at all" category applies not just to "Access Services" alone, but also to "Access Services, Collection Development, & Other," whereas one would expect wide cross-departmental collaboration to result in a greater use of statistics.

Purchase on Demand Projects

Selected survey responses about PDA (not using participants’ names/institutions):

  • Titles borrowed combined with title frequency on syllabi;
  • I review titles that are being borrowed to determine if they are gaps that we want to fill or material outside of our collection areas;
  • I haven't seen any reports on my institution’s ILL data in awhile, but in the past when I have seen it, I would consider purchasing items that seemed to be borrowed ;
  • At our institution, we run quarterly ILL reports by LC call# for the subject specialists so they can determine where there are gaps in our collection. We also have a Purchase on Demand service for our faculty through ILL. A quarterly report for Purchase on Demand requests is provided for the library administration and subject specialists. The report includes the faculty member and department the books were purchased for Methodologies for Using ILL Data/Statistics for Collection Development.

Other ways ILL Data/Statistics Influence Collection Development

This chart summarizes the answers to the question, "Other than PDA, in which ways doees your library use ILL data or statistics to influence collection development?" Answers included: At time of request, purchase material that is a good addition to your collection=25; At time of request, purchase material that is more cost-effective to buy, rather than borrow=17; At time of request, purchase material that may arrive more quickly than via ILL=10; At time of request, purchase materialthat is unavailable through ILL=20; Periodically reviedw ILL statistics to look for potential gaps in collection=28; Periodically review ILL statistics to purchase previously requested material that is a good addition to your collection=24; Consult ILL statistics before deselecting or weeding material=23; Other as specified by resondent=5
Figure 4: Other than PDA, in which ways does your library use ILL data or statistics to influence collection development?

Our survey asked respondents in what ways they used ILL data or ILL statistics to inform their collection development decisions. The 69 respondents were asked to choose all applicable options. The most popular use of ILL statistics was a periodic review to look for potential gaps in the collection, followed by using such data at the time of request to purchase titles that would make a good addition to the collection, reviewing ILL statistics periodically to purchase previously requested items that would make a good addition to the collection, and reviewing ILL statistics before deselecting/weeding. The few “Other” responses indicated using ILL data when de-accessioning print journals, using I-Share data specifically to make selection and deselection decisions, and using ILL statistics to decide on embargoed journal subscriptions that are not included in subscription packages.

Prioritization of Requests Based on Patron Status

Chart shows the responses to the question, "Do you prioritize purchases from ILL based on requesting patron's status [faculty, graduate student, undergraduate student, etc.]? Answers are: Frequently=10; Occasionally=16; Rarely=6; Patron status is not a priority=16; Other as specified by respondent=3
Figure 5: Do you prioritize purchases from ILL based on requesting patron's status?

The 51 responses to this question indicate that patron status either is not a priority or is occasionally a priority for most of the respondents. The three "Other" replies indicate not purchasing ILL items for patrons, prioritizing purchases for current Illinois State government employees, and a response that was unsure whether or not patron status influenced the prioritization of a purchase from ILL.

Prioritization of Requests Based on Patron Status, Subdivided by Institution Type

Type of Institution Priority Count of Responses
Community College Occasionally 4
Community College Rarely 2
Community College Patron status is not a priority 5
Private Frequently 9
Private Occasionally 10
Private Rarely 4
Private Patron status is not a priority 7
Private Other: Uncertain 2
Public Frequently 1
Public Occasionally 2
Public Patron status is not a priority 4
Public Other: Occasionally 1

Figure 6: This chart combines the data from Figure 5 with the institution's type.

The purpose of this table is to determine, from the data, whether patron status takes on a greater role in prioritizing requests at four-year colleges and universities (including some that may grant graduate, doctoral, and other advanced degrees) than at community colleges. The "Frequently" category applies to just the four-year-and-above institutions. This would be expected, as community colleges generally do not have as strict a hierarchy among faculty, staff, and students that would require prioritizing certain requests. Comparing the private and public colleges, patron status has a greater impact at the private ones, with 19 out of 32 responses (59%) falling into either the "Frequently" or "Occasionally" categories. At the public ones, the proportion is just 38%.

Assessment Methods

Chart shows the answers to the survey question, "What methods do you use to assess successful use of purchased ILL materials in collection develoment?" Answers included: Item is used by additional patrons after purchase=15; Item arrives in a timely manner=3; Survey of patron satisfaction=4; We do not have an assessment method=34; Other as specified by respondent=1
Figure 7: "What methods do you use to assess successful use of purchased ILL materials in collection development?"

Of the 57 respondents to this question, a majority of 34 of them, or 60%, indicated that they had no assessment method for determining the successful use of purchased ILL materials in collection development. The one “Other” response did not elaborate.

What follows are examples of interlibrary loan and collection development workflows from CARLI member libraries, public and private, used to demonstrate how they provide services to their users in the most efficient manner possible. Loyola University Chicago is a private Jesuit university with an enrollment of around 16,000 students. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a large public university with approximately 45,000 students. The College of DuPage is a two-year community college with an enrollment of around 28,000.

Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Chicago has been providing a Purchase on Demand (POD) service for its faculty members for many years. The POD service is a collaboration between interlibrary loan, access services, the subject specialists, acquisitions, cataloging, and the administration. The service was first initiated to assist with filling in the gaps within the library’s collection, especially when purchasing a book is more cost-effective than requesting it through interlibrary loan. Set criteria is followed to assist in the decision to purchase a book. Specifically, is the book suitable for the collection? Is it under a certain price? Was it published within the last 15 years? Finally, is it available for immediate shipping through Amazon Prime?

Loyola University faculty members have the opportunity, via a form in ILLiad, to tell the library whether they recommend a book for purchase or not. Once the form has reached the ILL librarian, the librarian then reviews the request and determines if the book qualifies to be purchased. Acquisitions places the order for the book and then gives it to cataloging for rush processing. Access services then places the book on hold for the patron. Average turnaround time for POD is 5-7 days.
The POD service is promoted by the subject specialists and also at the “New Faculty Orientation” at the beginning of the academic year. Open communication and support from all of the departments involved is key to its success.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIU) comprises more than 20 distinct circulating collections and several special collections. The Oak Street High Density Storage facility and the Main Stacks hold over half of the collection. The library serves 53,000 students, faculty, and staff. The collections budget encompasses 400 subject funds (and a fund for new releases) totaling about $17 million in 2017, with over half of that used for online resources.

Interlibrary loan usage data exerts some influence on collection development at UIUC. Some PDAs are driven by unfilled I-Share requests, or when patrons request  items that have yet to be purchased.

Some purchase decisions are made based on whether it’s more cost-effective to acquire an item than it is to borrow through interlibrary loan. Occasionally items are acquired that are unavailable through interlibrary loan.

Periodically, collections development committee members review ILL statistics to identify potential gaps in the collection and to help identify areas of the collection that may benefit from deselecting or weeding.

In 2009 CARLI and UIUC undertook a joint project to test PDA for print monographs. Data showed very high title overlap. UIUC and CARLI began with a pool of $20,000, and loaded 6,000 records, selecting from a large record set. The pilot ran out money in five weeks because of the high demand. PDA items circulated at a higher rate than items purchased with other funds.

College of DuPage

COD doesn’t use ILLiad nor any similar software program. All requests are mediated by ILL staff. This goes for requests sent directly to Worldshare as well as those coming through forms sent to the ILL email address. The ILL department keeps a running record of all ILL statistics, including all submitted requests, received through to returned, as well as any issues that prevent the requests from being processed, finding that keeping such statistics is much more accurate than reports coming from OCLC. A new report is created every month from these statistics, which is passed along to the librarians. This report will not show items that were at COD or available through I-Share, or duplicate requests from the same patron. The top of the new report includes a breakdown of patron type, type of library that filled the request, and whether it was from in- or out-of-state. An annual report is also created with basically the same information.

COD creates lending reports as well, and the same goes for I-Share, which is used for both lending and borrowing. For borrowing reports COD uses the ubstat_3_cod_mmyy_for_import.txt and the ubstat_5_cod_mmyy_for_import.txt CARLI reports. These reports are useful to the librarians for collection development purposes by demonstrating what has received the most requests, and they also show the historical number of charges, which is useful for deselection/weeding. For lending COD uses the Call_Slips_Filled_Requests and Call_Slips_Unfilled_Requests reports, which are also used for collection development and deselection/weeding decisions.

We do something similar for article requests. The report created for librarians includes the journal titles with the year in question. Some of these titles will show up multiple times which is of importance to librarians when discussing journal and database purchasing. Journals that find no lenders is most often due to embargos, which may encourage librarians to purchase the title if there are enough requests.

We hope this analysis provides useful data/examples to CARLI libraries in determining how Interlibrary loan statistics are used when making decisions on collection development. Survey data from 69 CARLI libraries provide a balanced representation of respondents from both the Access Services and Collection Development worlds, with 47.8% of respondents working in at least one area of Access Services, and the same percentage of respondents working in at least one area of Collection Development. A majority of respondents (72%) also report that their libraries occasionally or frequently utilize ILL data to make purchasing decisions for their library collections; the example from the College of DuPage demonstrates how libraries have implemented workflows to help them in this regard.

A “Purchase on Demand” program allows libraries to use ILL data to inform collection development. The example provided by the Loyola University Library demonstrates some of the workflows that may be used when implementing such a program. Excluding “Purchase on Demand,” the most frequent use of ILL data to inform collection development is to identify gaps in the collection based on the material requested. Most libraries either do not prioritize a patron’s status when making purchasing decisions based on ILL activity, or do so only occasionally.

The majority of respondents (60%) indicated that they have not implemented formal assessment methods to measure the efficacy of using ILL data to influence collection development.  While it is not clear if this is due to a lack of time or resources, the training or hiring of staff with the appropriate data assessment skills would undoubtedly help libraries make better decisions in the efficient use of funds in meeting user demand.
Trends in the data encourage further investigation into these possible connections:

  • Collection evaluation based on Interlibrary Loan usage/statistics
  • Changes in patron resource needs
  • Hiring qualified library staff with data assessment skills, or investing in training staff on acquiring such skills for professional development.
  • Cost effectiveness of purchase vs. borrowing material
  • The availability of open access content and full text databases

Each of the articles below address ways in which interlibrary loan usage influences collection development policies or practices in libraries.

If you are interested in reading articles with a common theme, you can look for any of the following tags at the end of each citation: POD/PDA (purchase on demand/patron-driven acquisitions), Serials, Monographs, Collection Analysis, ILL Data Analysis, Departmental Collaboration

  • Allen, M., Ward, S.M., Wray, T., & Debus-Lopez, K.E. (2003). Patron-focused services in three US libraries: Collaborative interlibrary loan, collection development and acquisitions. Interlending & Document Supply, 31(2), 138-141.
    • Tags: Monographs, Departmental Collaboration
    • This article describes the ILL/acquisitions collaborative models for purchases initiated through patrons’ interlibrary loan requests at three libraries in 2001-2002: the Thomas Crane Public Library (TCPL) in Quincy, Massachusetts, Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Memorial Library. Each library’s workflow, criteria for selection, and subsequent analysis of titles selected through the collaborative Acq/ILL program is included. The authors conclude that patron satisfaction with the programs was high, the majority of materials selected for purchase by the ILL librarians did meet the collection development goals for the subject area, and the materials had higher subsequent usage than traditionally-selected materials.
  • Anderson, K.J., Freeman, R.S., Herubel, J.V.M., Mykytiuk, L.J., Nixon, J.M., & Ward, S.M. (2010). Liberal arts books on demand: A decade of patron-driven collection development, part 1. Collection Management, 35(3-4), 125-141.
    • Tags: POD/PDA, Monographs, Departmental Collaboration
    • In January of 2000, Purdue University Libraries began a service they called “Books on Demand.” Interlibrary loan requests for books meeting a set criteria were purchased for their collection rather than borrowed from another library. This article from 2010 is the first of three articles to review the effectiveness of this program. As the title indicates, this article focuses on books that were requested from the liberal arts disciplines. The review found that the patron population that used this service most heavily was graduate students, and the conclusions indicated that this service added an important avenue for this group to give input to their collection development. There were six liberal arts departments that represented the largest proportion of purchases, but they noted that the selections were very cross-disciplinary. They also reviewed the titles purchased and felt that the vast majority of the selections were appropriate for their collections.
  • Bracke, M.S. (2010). Science and technology books on demand: A decade of patron-driven collection development, part 2. Collection Management, 35(3-4), 142-150.
    • Tags: POD/PDA, Monographs
    • In January of 2000, Purdue University Libraries began a service they called “Books on Demand.” Interlibrary loan requests for books meeting a set criteria were purchased for their collection rather than borrowed from another library. This article from 2010 is the second of three articles to review the effectiveness of this program. This article looks at books requested in support of the science and technology disciplines. 1,557 books purchased through this program were reviewed as science and technology titles. The reviewer determined that just 4% of these purchases were not appropriate for a research collection. Many of the titles were determined to be interdisciplinary, serving either multiple science disciplines or bridging science and one of the social science disciplines. All but 17% of the requests circulated beyond the original interlibrary loan requester, and 36% had circulated 5 or more times. In addition to helping build an interdisciplinary collection, these purchases also helped identify emerging areas of study in science and technology fields.
  • Bronicki, J., Ke, I., Turner, C., & Vaillancourt, S. (2015). Gap analysis by subject area of the University of Houston main campus library collection. Serials Librarian, 68(1-4), 230-242.
    • Tags: Monographs, Collection Analysis
    • The University of Houston, Main Campus Library performed a 2-phase evaluation of their collection with the goal of understanding the usage of the current collection and to identify gaps. This article reports on phase 1 of the process, which dealt only with print monographs (no e-books) with assigned call numbers. They analyzed the current distribution of their collection by LC class and subject area, overall usage of the collection, compared the age of the collection to usage, and analyzed the usage of the collection in comparison to ILL borrowing for the area. They used a value they called the RBH, or Ratio of Borrowing to Holdings, to make it easier to compare the percentage of requests to the collection. They compared the holdings to the ILL use for each class/subclass to determine overall user demand for each subject area and came up with collection levels:
      Collection overuse & ILL underuse: collection is meeting needs
      Collection overuse & ILL overuse: demonstrated demand; consider purchasing
      Collection underuse & ILL underuse: little demand
      Collection underuse & ILL overuse: demonstrated demand; consider purchasing
  • Campbell, S.A. (2006). To buy or to borrow, that is the question. Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserves, 16(3), 35-39.
    • Tags: Monographs, ILL Data Analysis
    • Based on an ALA presentation in 2002, the Washoe County Library System developed a trial of purchasing some titles based on a specific set of criteria rather than interlibrary loaning the items. Usually the items purchased were unavailable through conventional interlibrary loan, thus providing patron satisfaction as well as adding relevant items to the collection. The average cost of purchase compared closely to the cost for providing the item through interlibrary loan. The circulation record was followed on the purchased items showing an average of 7 circulations per title. More research is needed to determine the long term effect of purchasing on interlibrary loan activity.
  • Chan, E.K., Mune, C., Kendall, S.L., & YiPing, W. (2016). Three years of unmediated document delivery: An analysis and consideration of collection development priorities. Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 35(1), 42. doi:10.1080/02763869.2016.1117288
    • Tags: Serials, Collection Analysis, ILL Data Analysis
    • Unmediated document delivery offers many advantages, including providing articles within a short turnaround time and granting access to materials that might otherwise be unavailable due to embargoes. One such delivery service that the Copyright Clearance Center has made available to libraries in recent years is Get It Now. San Jose State University’s library, which began using the service in 2012 for a patron-driven, unmediated document delivery service, tracked its effectiveness over the first three years (through 2015). San Jose State saw a steady increase in use over the three years. Nonetheless, budget restrictions may make use of the system prohibitive to many institutions, as the article notes.
  • Foss, M. (2008). Books-on-demand pilot program: An innovative “patron-centric" approach to enhance the library collection. Journal of Access Services, 5(1/2), 306-315.
    • Tags: POD/PDA, Collection Analysis
    • This article reports on the flat collection budget at the University of Florida Libraries over several years, even as new degree programs were added. Because of this situation, ILL services at the library saw an increase in their requests. Keeping cost-per-transaction in mind, a pilot program was launched to determine if it would be more cost-efficient to purchase materials outright rather than request them. Such decisions would be made with a “patron-centric” focus and certain parameters were set up under which materials would be purchased, including from where, how, and what statistical information would be kept. After several months, purchases were examined, and parameters were reassessed in order to assure that all subjects were being treated on an equitable basis. The article describes the workflow for purchasing the materials, and also discusses what the benefits of this program were to the collection during an otherwise difficult time. Upon evaluation of the service, it was noted that patron satisfaction was generally high, the materials in question tended to circulate more often (based on previous studies), and it is primarily used by graduate students. The article ends with recommendations for changing the program, including expanding the options for possible vendors.
  • Fountain, K.C., & Frederiksen, L. (2010). Just passing through: Patron-initiated collection development in northwest academic libraries. Collection Management, 35(3-4), 185-195.
    • Tags: POD/PDA, Collection Analysis
    • This article analyzes survey results regarding purchase on demand (POD) programs that were given by an academic library consortium that contains 36 academic libraries in Washington and Oregon. The authors argue that an interlibrary loan transaction does nothing for permanent collection building however the data from that request can help fill collection gaps. Of the 36 libraries surveyed, only 7 are currently using a POD program. The libraries that are not cited funding as the reason. The 7 libraries have a parallel workflow in how they process an ILL request turned POD. This workflow can easily be adopted by the remaining libraries in the consortium provided they feel they have the funding to start a POD program.
  • Gee, C.W. (2014). Book-buying through interlibrary loan: Analysis of the first eight years at a large public university library. Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserves, 24(5), 133-145.
    • Tags: POD/PDA, Collection Analysis, ILL Data Analysis, Departmental Collaboration
    • A patron-driven acquisition (PDA) service, especially for materials that are relatively new and can be difficult to obtain through interlibrary loan, is an alternative for libraries that have adequate funding and the means to track use of the program. The main advantage of such a program to patrons is that they will not have to wait as long to receive an item and can also keep it longer. East Carolina University chose to track the first eight years of a PDA service, from 2006 to 2014. Despite some challenges, the program did see extensive use of the purchased materials including beyond just the initial patron request.
  • Hendler, G.Y., & Gudenas, J. (2016). Developing collections with Get It Now: A pilot project for a hybrid collection. Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 35(4), 363. doi:10.1080/02763869.2016.1220751
    • Tags: ILL Data Analysis, POD/PDA, Collection Analysis, Serials
    • In this article, the authors describe why and how the Copyright Clearance Center’s "Get It Now" service was implemented at the Loyola University Chicago Health Sciences Library. The journal authors were interested in comparing the costs of purchasing licenses for continued journal access vs. simply paying for single use of unsubscribed content through “Get It Now.” For collection development purposes, the data collected was helpful in showing the type of material that users are requesting while a three-year review of interlibrary loan data "provided additional information about collection gaps" that helped the Library select 103 titles for unmediated access in “Get It Now.” Interlibrary Loan data was used to help select material for the “Get It Now” pilot project, although more of the focus is on the cost-effectiveness of “just-in-time” purchases of licensed content in comparison to ongoing subscriptions for expensive journals that libraries maintain “just in case” a user needs an article.
  • Hodges, D., Preston, C., & Hamilton, M.J. (2010), Patron-initiated collection development: Progress of a paradigm shift. Collection Management, 35(3/4), 208-221. 
    • Tags: POD/PDA, Collection Analysis
    • This article examines the shift from librarian-mediated collection development to patron-initiated collected development and the issues that impacted the change. To illustrate this shift, the example of programs at the Ohio State University Libraries (OSUL) is used. Post WWII, OSUL approached collection development on a just-in-case basis, whereas that gradually changed over time as the economy tightened and sensibilities evolved. OSUL began to use more of a just in time model in 1990. The ILL unit was incorporated into Acquisitions and they began to experiment with the purchasing of titles, if it were faster and cheaper, rather than the ordering of them through traditional ILL. OSUL developed a Purchase on Demand program and developed formal parameters in 2008. OSUL also began using ebrary in 2008 which allowed patrons to trigger purchases there as well, within certain parameters. A second test of ebrary moved from mediated to unmediated. The data revealed by these tests are examined and discussed. The article ends with a description of how subject librarians have received the program and how collection development and patron-driven acquisition can work together in the future.  
  • Huang, D.L. (2016). Flipped interlibrary loan (F.I.L.L.): Putting interlibrary loan in the driver’s seat of acquisitions. Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserves, 25(3-5), 61-74.
    • Tags: POD/PDA, Monographs, Departmental Collaboration
    • This article discusses Lehigh University’s pursuit of “Flipped Interlibrary Loan” or F.I.L.L. The library believes that ILL can and should inform permanent acquisitions for their library collection. Their purchase-on-demand program began in 2016 using an ILLiad software add-on called GIST (Getting It System Toolkit). Faculty members would request items through the GIST web form as part of their “Express Purchase” program. Items would then go through a librarian approval process based on established criteria before being ordered through Amazon Prime and rush cataloged. An important component noted was an automated email system which kept faculty members updated on the status of their request until it was available for pick-up. Items ordered through Express Purchase had a 91% circulation rate (as opposed to the 16.62% average of their other non-on-demand acquisitions plans). Even though the cost of an ILL circulation was less expensive ($17.50 vs. $82.60), by the fourth circulation, an express purchase was more cost-effective ($17.50 vs. $10.34). The added benefits of the express purchase were faculty satisfaction with around a 5-day turnaround, ease of renewal, and extended duration of checkout. ILL staff members also felt more empowered making decisions on items to refer to Acquisitions outside of express purchase since a successful collaborative relationship had been established.
  • Imamoto, B., & Mackinder, L. (2016). Neither beg, borrow, nor steal: Purchasing interlibrary loan requests at an academic library. Technical Services Quarterly, 33(4), 371-385.
    • Tags: POD/PDA, Serials, Monographs, Departmental Collaboration
    • This article discusses the “Next Generation ILL” pilot to live projects at the University of California, Irvine. UCI conducted three monograph-based pilots from 2010-13 where they purchased ILL titles that had previously gone unfilled in lieu of sending them out for a second attempt at filling for minimal to no charge. In the first pilot, staff both requested items via ILL and purchased them and compared the delivery times and costs of traditional ILL to Next Gen ILL for faculty monograph requests, finding that the Next Gen ILL’s cost was only 17.5% higher than the cost to borrow from another library. In the second pilot, staff only purchased monographs requested as ILLs for faculty, which were then processed and circulated to the faculty. When returned, they were treated as gifts and reviewed by bibliographer and 81% were added to the permanent collection. In the third pilot, e-books were added and made the preferred format if available. The requests from faculty and now graduate students were purchased and books were automatically added to the collection (no longer reviewed as gifts). A fourth patron demand-based pilot was the addition of an article Pay Per View service with Reprints Desk serving as the vendor. The average article price was $34 with a $5.85 service charge. The average turnaround time from ILL staff request through the service to deliver was just 36 minutes. UCI considered their efforts to “create a way that [they] can quickly, and as cheaply as possible, purchase ILL requests that [their] ILL department could not easily borrow” a success.
  • Knievel, J., Wicht, H., & Connaway, L.S. (2006). Use of circulation statistics and interlibrary loan data in collection management. College & Research Libraries, 67(1), 35-49.
    • Tags: Monographs, Collection Analysis, ILL Data Analysis
    • This article reports a study at the University of Colorado at Boulder that looked at usage statistics of their English-language monograph collection. The usage statistics they gathered included both circulation statistics as well as interlibrary loan data. Data was gathered from January 1998 through December 2002 and was analyzed by subject classification rather than title by title. The discussion of their results focuses on overall holdings, average transactions per item, percentage of items circulated in a given subject collection, and ratio comparing ILL requests to holdings in a subject area. The findings were utilized by the library to inform remote storage and collection development decisions.
  • Kochan, C., & Duncan, J. (2016). Analysis of print purchase on demand titles ordered via interlibrary loan: A collection development perspective. Collection Management, 41(2), 51-65.
    • Tags: POD/PDA, Collection Analysis, ILL Data Analysis
    • Utah State University (USU) began a program in 2009 wherein they would immediately purchase particular titles that had just been requested via ILL if those titles also met certain prerequisite conditions relating to factors such as scholarship. They called this program POD-ILL, and the study of the program examined the value this services had to different groups of users and also looked at the various data produced by the service over years in an attempt to understand what materials patrons wished to access immediately so that gaps in the collection can be found. POD-ILL was first developed when the ILL staff noted that it was difficult to fill requests for newer materials, and also that fast turnaround and long check-outs were also a challenge. They developed their purchasing criteria for the program and their process of how ILL would work with Technical Services. From the inception of the program, staff kept certain statistical data: they tracked cost, who the heaviest users were and where they were located and what subjects were requested by what departments. These requests were also examined for interdisciplinarity, publishers, publisher type and date. The article ends by noting that this program mirrors similar programs at other institutions, but also states that one disappointment of the program is that remote users did not take advantage of the program more.
  • Lopez, A. & Mayr, P. (2013). EVA (ErwerbungsVorschlags-Assistant) assists in collection building! Using ILL data for patron-driven acquisition. Interlending & Document Supply, 41(4), 122-127.
    • Tags: POD/PDA, ILL Data Analysis, Departmental Collaboration
    • ErwerbungsVorschlags-Assistant (EVA) is a tool for patron driven acquisitions through interlibrary loan requests. It has its own web interface for the acquisitions or subject librarian and a patron tracking interface. ILL requests are first checked for criteria such as availability, date of publication, etc. that can be defined by the institution. If it meets the purchase criteria it then goes to the librarian interface where it’s decided whether or not it will be filled through ILL or a purchase will be made. If it does not meet the purchase criteria (out of publication, different language, etc.), the ILL request will automatically be filled. The EVA module also has an interface tied to the patron’s ILL account letting them know the status of their request and if it will be filled through ILL or through a purchase. The overlying theme of this article is that acquisitions and interlibrary loan are not seen as competitors, but as two tools used towards the common goal of providing information to the patron.
  • Nabe, J., & Fowler, D.C. (2015). Leaving the “big deal”...five years later. Serials Librarian, 69(1), 20-28.
    • Tags: ILL Data Analysis, Collection Analysis, Serials
    • Southern Illinois University, Carbondale (SIUC) ended agreements with 3 content providers. This article looks at ILL usage of the titles canceled to determine the wisdom of the decision. Looking at just one provider (Wiley) they discovered that there were over 11,000 downloads of the “lost titles” in the last year of the agreement. They determined that downloads did not accurately represent “use.” In the years following canceling the subscriptions they discovered that only 25% of the lost titles were actually requested via ILL, indicating they made a worthwhile cost saving decision. The University of Oregon also followed a similar cuts and came to similar conclusions as SIUC.
  • Nixon, J.M., & Saunders, E.S. (2010). A study of circulation statistics of books on demand: A decade of patron-driven collection development, part 3. Collection Management, 35(3/4), 151-161.
    • Tags: POD/PDA, Monographs
    • In January of 2000, Purdue University Libraries began a service they called “Books on Demand.” Interlibrary loan requests for books meeting a set criteria were purchased for their collection rather than borrowed from another library. This article from 2010 is the third article to review the effectiveness of this program. The focus of this portion of the review is on circulation statistics. The review found that books purchased through this program had higher usage rates than materials purchased through traditional collection development methods. They also found that books selected by graduate and undergraduate students had higher usage rates than those selected by faculty through this program. Finally, the review found that usage rates varied depending on the department/discipline of the requestor.
  • Pedersen, W.A., Arcand, J., & Forbis, M. (2014). The big deal, interlibrary loan, and building the user-centered journal collection: A case study. Serials Review, 40(4), 242-250. doi:10.1080/00987913.2014.975650
    • Tags: ILL Data Analysis, Serials
    • This article discussed the impact of the breakup of Big Deals (such as Elsevier, Springer, and Wiley) on ILL requests. Broadly, breakup has not resulted in large increased ILL usage. The authors reviewed relevant literature and presented a case study (Iowa State U). The most salient points are the following: “The interaction between Big Deals and ILL/DD is starting to gain more attention and is perhaps moving more in a direction of ILL/DD exerting an influence on Big Deals rather than the opposite”; “Interlibrary loan cost data was therefore the primary criterion for decision making. However, it was supplemented with a second criterion that was entirely based upon usage. The subject librarians asked that any titles that averaged 100 uses per year over a 3-year period also be retained with active subscriptions”; and, “Breaking up Springer and Wiley did save some funds, but the real outcome was restoring the decision making about journal collections to the Iowa State University campus. Having individual subscriptions to Springer and Wiley titles will allow for a more systematic and regular evaluation of the ISU Library's journal collection.”
  • Pitcher, K., Bowersox, T., Oberlander, C., & Sullivan, M. (2010). Point-of-need collection development: The Getting It System Toolkit (GIST) and a new system for acquisitions and interlibrary loan integrated workflow and collection development. Collection Management, 35(3/4), 222-236.
    • Tags: Collection Analysis, ILL Data Analysis, Departmental Collaboration
    • In using interlibrary loan numbers to determine the best strategies for collection development, the goal of any library is to streamline the workflow, while including input from both the ILL and acquisitions departments. The State University of New York at Geneseo (SUNY-Geneseo) sought to meet this objective by developing and testing the GIST (Getting It System Toolkit) software platform in 2009. This platform works alongside ILLiad to direct ILL staff to freely-available electronic versions of articles, which eventually halved the turnaround time for filling requests. It also streamlines the acquisitions department’s work by checking to make sure it is not held locally and by providing purchase price. At the time of the article’s writing, SUNY-Geneseo planned to explore additional features that, budget permitting, it could add to GIST, to improve the workflow even more.
  • Ruppel, M. (2006). Tying collection development's loose ends with interlibrary loan. Collection Building, 25(3), 72-77.
    • Tags: POD/PDA, Collection Analysis, ILL Data Analysis, Monographs, Departmental Collaboration
    • This article analyzed a year’s worth of titles (specifically in the Education and Psychology disciplines) requested by patrons at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Morris Library during the 2004 calendar year. In addition to pointing to gaps in the library’s collection, interlibrary loan (ILL) data was used to support the author’s recommendation that the Morris Library implement a “books on demand” (BOD) program for requests that are of high quality based on book review analysis, inexpensive, new, easy to obtain with a comparable turnaround time to ILL, and appropriate for the library’s collection. A new procedure was enacted wherein the ILL staff refer book requests written in English and published within the last five years that fit their collection development policy to acquisitions to investigate its potential for quick purchase turnaround. Other reasons to support purchasing titles requested by patrons via ILL included meeting the research needs of a University community, building equity to the library’s collections, and adding titles that are likely to circulate again. One possible consequence, however, is that a BOD program may lead to a reduction in ILL requests, making necessary the reallocation of ILL funds to the materials budget.
  • Schmidt, L.M. (2012). When the pilot is over: Picking the program and making it stick, purchase on demand at the University of South Florida. Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserve, 22(1), 59-66.
    • Tags: POD/PDA, Collection Analysis, ILL Data Analysis
    • This article narrows in on when the Purchase on Demand pilot study is over and evaluates the results of the study at USF. The program was evaluated after three years by comparing it to other library programs and surveying library patrons. The author looks at three different models to categorize a purchase on demand program. The article demonstrates the necessary steps when implementing a purchase on demand program and discusses criteria that should be established, workflow, statistics analysis, and a patron survey.
  • Scott, M. (2016). Predicting use: COUNTER usage data found to be predictive of ILL use and ILL use to be predictive of COUNTER use. Serials Librarian, 71(1), 20. doi:10.1080/0361526X.2016.1165783
    • Tags: Serials, Collection Analysis, ILL Data Analysis
    • With the high costs of bundled journal packages, or “Big Deals,” and shrinking budgets, libraries are considering increased ILL use as an alternative. When breaking up a Big Deal, libraries should determine which titles received the most use, and then subscribe to those titles individually. One method of tracking continued use of these titles is the COUNTER (Continuing Online Use of Electronic Resources) system. To fill the gap, however, turning to ILL services is also necessary, despite the costs associated with using such services more. Ideally, costs aside, the number of ILL requests, compared with the number of article downloads for the cancelled journals, should be 1:1. In a University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee study, however, the ratio was closer to 1:17, which is closer to what many libraries face.
  • Tyler, D.C., Melvin, J.C., Epp, M., & Kreps, A.M. (2014). Don't fear the reader: Librarian versus interlibrary loan patron-driven acquisition of print books at an academic library by relative collecting level and by Library of Congress classes and subclasses. College & Research Libraries, 75(5), 684-704. doi:10.5860/crl.75.5.684
    • Tags: POD/PDA, Collection Analysis, Monographs
    • A five-year study was conducted at University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) to determine if patron driven acquisitions (PDA) resulted in unbalanced library collections. When comparing purchases by patrons and librarians the results were not significantly out of line. The authors concluded that librarians need not fear a loss of control over the collection, or that PDA will replace traditional acquisitions. It was determined that with proper guidelines in place, patrons will select collection appropriate materials.  
  • Tyler, D.C., Falci, C., Melvin, J.C., Epp, M., & Kreps, A.M. (2013). Patron-driven acquisition and circulation at an academic library: Interaction effects and circulation performance of print books acquired via librarians’ orders, approval plans, and patrons’ interlibrary loan requests. Collection Management, 38(1), 3-32.
    • Tags: POD/PDA, Monographs, Collection Analysis, ILL Data Analysis
    • In this article, the authors review the professional library literature whose conclusions support the contention that patron-driven acquisition (PDA) leads to increased circulation transactions when compared to librarian selections and vendor approval plans. A large part of the literature suggests that PDA/POD programs have become a proven standard practice in many libraries. The authors review the correlates used to establish the relationship between book use and type of order and whether other variables might come into play when analyzing data (e.g. books' genre, price, age) and find that the vast amount of literature has failed to address the complexity of correlates as they pertain to circulation of materials. The authors also address the anxiety revealed in the library literature in regards to whether or not the popularity of PDA will mean the elimination of librarians involved in collection development. While librarians shouldn't be the only ones making decisions on selecting material for the collection, librarian expertise and familiarity with the communities they serve should ensure their ongoing relevance, especially in regards to more expensive materials. Librarian selections also lead to greater circulation of material when compared to vendor approval plans.
  • Van Dyk, G. (2014). Demand-driven acquisitions for print books: How holds can help as much as interlibrary loan. Journal of Access Services, 11(4), 298-308.
    • Tags: Monographs, Collection Analysis
    • This article discusses how holds (the process by which a patron indicates that they would like to use an item as soon as it is available for checkout) and interlibrary loan requests can influence collection development. It explores the concept of using data about holds and interlibrary loan requests in tandem to determine if additional copies of a particular title need to be purchased. It also discusses high-demand items and suggests a process by which they can be tagged as unavailable for interlibrary loan in order to keep them available for local patrons.
  • Van Dyk, G. (2011). Interlibrary loan purchase-on-demand: A misleading literature. Library Collections, Acquisitions and Technical Services, 35(2), 83-89.
    • Tags: POD/PDA, ILL Data Analysis
    • This article argues that interlibrary loan borrowing may actually be cheaper than POD if hidden overhead purchasing and cataloging costs are factored into cost-per-use analysis. It explores factors that should be considered when determining when an item might be cheaper to buy than to borrow.  Although expensive items may require higher circulation to make their purchase cost effective, the author did not discuss purchases for reserves, which would presumably drive down the cost-per-use figure. The article also suggests that new studies are needed that reflect changes in the e-book and e-journal landscape.
  • Ward, S.M., Wray, T., & Debus-Lopez, K.E. (2003). Collection development based on patron requests: Collaboration between interlibrary loan and acquisitions. Library Collections, Acquisitions and Technical Services, 27(2), 203-213.
    • Tags: POD/PDA, Monographs, Collection Analysis, Departmental Collaboration
    • This article looks at the on-demand collection development partnerships between ILL and acquisitions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Purdue University. It describes each program and what criteria they use to purchase a book, where books were purchased from, the workflow involved and some statistics on cost and circulation rates. The data for this article is taken from 2000–2002 when the programs were started. Both schools concluded that on-demand book acquisitions are a viable model to use.
  • Way, D. (2009). The assessment of patron-initiated collection development via interlibrary loan at a comprehensive university. Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserves, 19(4), 299-308.
    • Tags: POD/PDA, Monographs, Collection Analysis, ILL Data Analysis
    • This article looks at patron-initiated collection development from the view of comprehensive universities, which tend to have numerous graduate programs, but focus on teaching over research and generally . Most previous studies have focused on public libraries, liberal arts colleges, and research universities. Comprehensive universities tend to have collections that emphasize breadth of coverage over depth. At Grand Valley State University, they noticed that over a five year span only 31% of the library’s book collection had circulated while realizing that ILL had seen a dramatic increase over that same time period. Seeing the increase of ILL as an indicator of unmet demand, they began putting together a patron-initiated collection development program. They used circulation analysis and peer comparisons as some of their criteria for evaluation of the program. They concluded that this program is an effective way to enhance the library’s collection.

If you are interested in learning more about how Interlibrary Loan can inform a patron-driven acquisitions model, we recommend the following books:

  • Allison, D.A. (2013). The Patron-driven library: A practical guide for managing collections and services in the digital age. Oxford, UK: Chandos Publishing.
  • Bridges, K. (Ed.) (2014). Customer-based collection development: An overview. Chicago, IL: ALA Editions.
  • Carrico, S., Leonard, M., and Gallagher, E. (2016). Implementing and assessing use-driven acquisitions: A practical guide for Librarians. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Nixon, J.M., Freeman, R.S., and Ward, S.M. (2011). Patron-driven acquisitions: Current successes and future directions. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Swords, D.A. (Ed.) (2011). Patron-driven acquisitions: History and best practices. Berlin, GE: de Gruyter.
  • Ward, S.M. (2012). Guide to implementing and managing patron-driven acquisitions. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

Survey questions sent to members of the CARLI Resource Sharing Committee listserv on Friday, March 9, 2018.

  • In what library area/department do you primarily work? [select all that apply]
    • Access Services  (Interlibrary Loan, Circulation, etc.)
    • Collection Development (Subject Liaison, Acquisitions, etc.)
    • Other (please specify)
  • Does your library use ILL data or statistics to influence collection development? [select one]
    • Frequently
    • Occasionally
    • Rarely
    • Not at all
  • If your library uses ILL data for a formal patron-driven acquisitions (PDA) model, please briefly describe how your library incorporates the ILL data into the PDA workflow.
  • Other than PDA, in which ways does your library use ILL data or statistics to influence collection development [select all that apply]:
    • At time of request, purchase material that is a good addition to your collection.
    • At time of request, purchase material that is more cost-effective to buy, rather than borrow.
    • At time of request, purchase material that may arrive more quickly than via ILL.
    • At time of request, purchase material that is unavailable through ILL.
    • Periodically review ILL statistics to look for potential gaps in collection.
    • Periodically review ILL statistics to purchase specific titles that were unavailable through ILL.
    • Periodically review ILL statistics to purchase previously requested material that is a good addition to your collection.
    • Consult ILL statistics before deselecting/weeding material.
    • Other (please specify)
  • Do you prioritize purchases from ILL based on requesting patron's status [faculty, graduate student, undergraduate student]?
    • Frequently
    • Occasionally
    • Rarely
    • Patron status is not a priority
    • Other (please specify)
  • What methods do you use to assess successful use of purchased ILL materials in collection development? [select all that apply]
    • Item is used by additional patrons after purchase
    • Item arrives in a timely manner
    • Survey of patron satisfaction
    • We do not have an assessment method
    • Other (please specify)
  • Would you be willing to discuss your library's workflows further with a member of the Resource Sharing Committee in a follow-up phone call?
    • Yes (if yes, please include name & phone number where we can reach you in comment box below)
    • No
    • Other (please specify)

The committee would like to thank Marcella Nowak for her contribution to this paper by providing details of the College of DuPage workflows, and those at CARLI member libraries who completed the committee's survey.