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Angie Hobbs, Kate Irwin-Smiler, Ellen and I braved the rain and the wind to attend the annual North Carolina ILL Users Group Meeting on Friday, June 5, 2009. The traffic was really backed up over Lake Norman. Fortunately, Ellen is adept at driving in unfamiliar places using back road. We arrived at UNC-Charlotte only half an hour late.

Tony Melvin from OCLC talked about various OCLC products and updated us on Open WorldCat, ILLiad and ALIAS. What grabbed everyone’s attention was ALIAS, Article Licensing Availability Service, an unmediated article resource sharing program. It is OCLC’s answer to RAPID, a service came out of Colorado State University. The biggest difference and the reason why everyone was excited about ALIAS is ALIAS will be FREE!!! What a concept! After a Q/A session with Tony, the group went to the faculty/staff cafeteria for lunch. It is a very nice building with a decent buffet.

The afternoon sessions included a presentation on some highlights of this year’s ILLiad conference in Virginia Beach. Then a round table discussion on whatever anyone wanted to bring up, which is one of my favorite part of the meeting.

People asked about copyright, ejournal printing, ILLiad workflow, etc. One of the exciting things we learned was “printing” the ejournal articles to Microsoft Office Image Writer, instead of paper and import to various devices to send to borrowing libraries. It will save a lot of paper. We look forward to experimenting with that.

The ILL Users Group is an intimate small group of people that started meeting in 2000 after SOLINET dissolved their formal annual meeting. We ILLers rely on each other for services; we talk to one another often. It is nice to meet informally every year to discuss issues, get updates and see old friends. We had representatives from other types of libraries when we first met at Wake Forest. Eventually the public libraries dropped out of scene because they were not interested in issues that concerned academic libraries. So now, only academic libraries participate in the meetings. Lynn has graciously agreed to host the 2010 meeting at ZSR. Ellen and I look foward to having our colleagues visit us and see all the great improvements we have made since 2000.