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Last week, I attended the 2011 ILLiad Conference in Virginia Beach, VA, from Wednesday, March 23rd, through Friday, March 25th. This was my first experience at an ILLiad conference, and I wanted to share a few things, including updated information about the release of ILLiad 8.1 on April 12, 2011. ILLiad 8.1 will not be compatible with 8.0 because of database changes; the installation of 8.1 involves a scheduled server update in addition to the client update. For me, the most exciting change in the new release involves Odyssey support for .pdf files (which I’m hoping means fewer .pdf emails).

Katie Black, of OCLC, presented updates about the WorldCat knowledge base on Friday morning and encouraged libraries to implement Direct Request for articles when able. According to Katie, OCLC is working with Pubget to autoload Serial Solutions holdings in the knowledge base; Pubget will crawl sites to determine access to databases, and libraries would be required to supply Pubget with login information for each database. World Cat First Search is also disappearing in a few years; OCLC is developing a new platform and First Search will migrate to that platform. However, OCLC will continue to add new features in WC Resource Sharing, which can be used in ILLiad. Finally, I learned that GEBAY (Bavarian State Library), one of our preferred European lenders, will be loading their KB into WorldCat, which will result, in part, in the enhanced sharing of articles. OCLC is also exploring a method for “electronic” document delivery for GEBAY (German law prohibits electronic delivery of materials, so GEBAY sends things to borrowing libraries through the mail…you can imagine how long this takes), so we’ll see how this goes.

In addition to attending the ATLAS/OCLC headlining sessions, I attended several others, with the most memorable involving East Carolina University’s expansion of ILL services, which was facilitated by William Gee. This expansion of traditional services includes providing electronic delivery and physical book delivery services to graduate students and faculty/staff; increasing lending of DVD and Special collections materials; and creating partnerships with local agencies and educators (namely public school instructors) by lending education-related materials (including course packs) to educators in rural areas who lacked access to an education collection of ECU’s caliber. William also elaborated on their distance education lending: they provide Distance Ed students with material that is shipped at ECU’s expense; they send detailed instructions on how to return the material and advise that individuals return the materials in the original containers. They also supply a return shipping label, so the DE student does not absorb any of the cost of using the ILL services. I spoke with William before the session about DE students and Study Abroad Students/Faculty, and he indicated that they still order loans for those enrolled in SA programs; they don’t ship the materials abroad, but they do electronically send a Table of Contents and/or an Index, and the patron requests a chapter or selected pagination from that original list. William also indicated ECU ILL uses separate patron statuses to denote those individuals who are enrolled in Distance Ed or Study Abroad programs, and those requests are processed separately. This all seemed very relevant to future ZSR ILL operations, especially considering the start up of the Distance Ed Master’s in Counseling program.

Another relevant session involved textbook requests and George Mason University’s (VGM) pilot program, which involved limiting textbook requests via ILL. As a result of increasing costs related to ILL textbook requests by students, VGM began working with the University bookstore – which provided the library with book lists for each course – to purchase textbooks for popular courses. Textbooks remained on the reserves shelf for the duration of the semester, and students were limited to a two-hour checkout period. Professors expressed satisfaction that textbooks were being made available to students; ILL staff also expressed satisfaction that time previously spent acquiring textbooks could be redirected to more difficult ILL requests. This program also proved to be a cost-cutting measure; purchasing a textbook was cheaper than requesting it multiple times from various academic libraries. I’m not sure if this sort of program would be as relevant to our ILL operations, as I don’t see traditional textbooks requests dominating our ILL requests (except for the first week or two of both Spring and Fall semesters).

I also enjoyed networking with members of our NC ILL Users group and our KUDZU group; I met ILL librarians and staff from UNC, UNC-W, Tulane, and the University of Memphis. It was interesting to hear about their work flows, and in some cases, lack of resources (including lack of student and/or full-time staff). I also met Cyril Oberlander of SUNY-Geneseo, who attended the recent Conference for Entrepreneurial Librarians; he remarked that it was a wonderful conference and we are fortunate to work in a beautiful library. Yay, ZSR!

*P.S. I needed to move this post from the Gazette to the Prof. Development blog, so I apologize if you receive a Lib-l email again.