As part of a program to enhance cooperation and resource sharing among the major law libraries in Manhattan, the New York University and Columbia Law School libraries have installed digital telefacsimile equipment to facilitate document delivery. The Rapicom 6100 units have been in place since November 1982; the unit at Columbia is equipped with Group II and III capabilities, that at NYU with Group III only. A machine may be installed at a third site in the near future.
The bulk of the traffic on the installation has been urgently needed documents which were previously delivered by messenger. After only two months of operation, the system was handling some 700 pages of transactions a month and library staff interviewed were ecstatic about the performance of the units. The facsimile service was held to be superior to the previous delivery mechanism, because it is faster and more convenient. Staff at the two institutions expect that usage of the system-which at the time of writing had not been heavily publicized among faculty or the staff of other campus libraries-will continue to grow. The convenience of the facility has already had an impact on the kind of material considered suitable for faxing; documents which would not have been regarded as sufficiently urgent to necessitate messenger delivery are now being transmitted over the fax linkage. Library administrators are also using the equipment for the transmission of notes and memos and feel that this capability will make a positive contribution to increased cooperation between the institutions.
Staff at both libraries rate the equipment as easy to use and find that training of operators is equally easy. At the time that this report was prepared neither installation had had need for a service call. Library staff had noted very few problems with resolution or copy quality. The only document that was identified as requiring retransmission was a handwritten note made in pencil. While neither library had specifically surveyed users for their reaction to the service, the impression was that the rapidity of document delivery was appreciated and that copy quality had not evoked any negative reactions.
The NYU Law Library is currently using fax only to communicate with the Columbia Law Library, the latter, however, is also using it to communicate with the 13 Manhattan law firms which subscribe to its fee based reference service. Initial use of the technology in this application has been low, possibly because the fax units-which were already in place in the law offices- tend to be located in communication centers rather than in the law libraries. It is expected that usage will increase as awareness increases. For transmissions within the 212 area code zone, Columbia is charging subscribers 30 cents a page and non-members 50 cents a page.
Both institutions report great interest among other members of the law library community and expect that a number of institutions will install similar equipment in the near future.