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Guidelines and Procedures for Telefacsimile and Electronic Delivery of Interlibrary Loan Requests and Materials

Prepared by the Interlibrary Loan Committee, Reference and Adult Services Division .
Approved by the: RASD Interlibrary Loan Committee, January 25, 1993; RASD MOPSS Executive Board, June 28, 1993; RASD Board of Directors, February 8, 1994.

1.0 Introduction

Telefacsimile (fax) and electronic document delivery (EDD) over the Internet are two methods of communication that have been adapted to the needs of libraries for quick and easy transmission of data. The fastest growing application of these types of delivery in libraries is as a mechanism for the rapid relay of interlibrary loan requests and/or responses to those requests when they take the form of brief journal articles, excerpts from larger works, and other easily reproduced materials that have been requested through accepted communications channels.

These guidelines address the needs of libraries that use fax and EDD systems in the interlibrary borrowing and lending processes. As such, these guidelines are intended to enhance other interlibrary loan codes and guidelines currently in use, and should be used in conjunction with the National Interlibrary Loan Code for the United States, 1993, the copyright law (Title 17, US Code), the National Commission on New Technological Uses of Copyrighted Works (CONTU) guidelines on "Photocopying Interlibrary Arrangements" including "Guidelines for the Proviso of Subsection 108(g)(2)," and any state, regional, network, or consortium guidelines that may be in effect. These guidelines should be used to expedite interlibrary loan when no state, regional, network, or consortium guidelines apply.

The purposes of these guidelines are: (1) to establish uniformity with regard to type of equipment to be used; (2) to recommend uniform practices with regard to equipment operation and administration; (3) to establish guidelines for borrowing and the formatting of requests to be transmitted; and (4) to set guidelines for responses to requests by lending libraries.

2.0 Equipment

2.1 Fax equipment should be digital equipment compatible with the Consultative Committee for International Telephone and Telegraph (CCITT) Group III standards. The equipment should have, as a minimum, features providing automatic sending and receiving, and a document feeder that allows the transmission of multiple pages.

2.2 Each fax machine should have a dedicated telecommunication line to insure high quality transmission and maximum access.

2.3 Other EDD equipment should be configured to send to and receive from other libraries using the same type of equipment.

3.0 General Guidelines

3.1 In accordance with the library's published lending policy, an interlibrary loan request may be transmitted via fax or electronically to another library. An electronic response and/or delivery may also be requested of that library in accordance with state, regional, or national interlibrary loan codes and the library's published lending policy.
3.2 Each fax or EDD transmission should include a cover or identifying sheet that includes the sender, the receiver, the number of pages being transmitted, and the sender's voice telephone number, telefacsimile number, and/or electronic address. The cover sheet may be omitted when transmitting an interlibrary loan request provided that all identifying information is included on the ILL request form.
3.3 Some documents may not transmit well via fax. These include photographs, detailed charts, maps and graphs; text, including scientific and mathematical symbols, small print, and foreign languages with diacritical, vocalization, or other small marks; and poor quality photocopies. Other electronic document delivery systems may be able to send such material without loss of clarity.
3.4 Unless a specific delivery method is requested, the lending library will determine the method to be used in delivery of the requested material. The lending library should notify the borrowing library when unable to deliver via the requested method.

4.0 Borrowing Guidelines

4.1 An interlibrary loan request for a document to be delivered electronically may be submitted through the interlibrary loan system of a bibliographic utility, a local online network, or any other transmission system acceptable to both the borrowing and lending libraries.

4.2 A request transmitted by any electronic method should be typed on a standard ALA Interlibrary Loan Request Form or in a standard freeform format approximating the ALA form (See Interlibrary Loan Data Elements NISO Z39.63), and transmitted in accordance with policies and procedures of the lending library.

4.3 A request for electronic delivery should contain the note: "Please send to (fax number, or electronic address)" in the borrowing notes field or in a conspicuous place on the request form.

4.4 A rush request should contain the note: "Please rush, needs before mm/dd/yy" in the borrowing notes field or in a conspicuous place on the request form. Sending a request via fax or other electronic method will not automatically elicit a rush response or delivery. Borrowing libraries should use discretion in requesting rush service except in instances in which local guidelines have been written to accommodate the service by special arrangement or when the policy of the lending library includes rush processing and delivery.

5.0 Lending Guidelines

5.1 The lending library should check interlibrary loan systems, online networks, fax machines, and other electronic methods of transmission at least once per working day for incoming requests.

5.2 Fax and EDD requests should be merged into the normal workflow of the lending library and processed within a reasonable period of time.

5.3 Rush requests should be processed within one working day of receipt.

5.4 When electronic delivery is requested, the lending library should attempt to comply, provided the document is of reasonable length and of a quality that will transmit well.

5.5 Any photocopy of a document produced in response to a request for electronic delivery should be discarded after the transaction has been completed. The lender should mail the original photocopy only in circumstances in which the borrower has received an illegible transmission and requests a paper copy to be mailed.

5.6 A negative response should be made via the same network or transmission method through which the request was received.

5.7 A negative response to a rush request should be sent via fax, electronically, or by telephone within one working day. If the request was sent via an online ILL system, the request should also be updated or forwarded.

5.8 It is recommended that no additional fees or special handling charges be levied by the lending library for a document or response sent via fax or EDD.

For questions regarding RUSA pages, contact: Donavan Vicha,
RUSA Web Program Officer: dvicha@
Last Revised: July 27, 2004

Copyright © 2004, American Library Association.
Interlibrary loan, reference guidelines
These guidelines address the needs of libraries that use fax and EDD systems in the interlibrary borrowing and lending processes.