PROVO, Utah — This fall, students and faculty at Brown University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, and Princeton University will be able to initiate their own interlibrary loans with expanded access to seven Academic Research library collections. Thanks to epixtech's Universal Resource Sharing System (URSA), these libraries have joined with Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University as part of the Borrow Direct partnership established in 1999. Borrow Direct now consists of seven ARL libraries serving thousands of students, faculty, and staff at these institutions.
The Borrow Direct partnership uses epixtech's URSA product to give users direct on-line borrowing access to almost 10 million books—nearly the entire electronically cataloged collections of the current participating libraries. But that was before the addition of these four more libraries. Soon, students and faculty will have access to nearly the entire catalogs of all these major universities.
“URSA is reliable, fast, and convenient,” says Bob Krall, head of interlibrary loan and document delivery at University of Pennsylvania and project manager for Borrow Direct. “When we first started this project, we were looking for ways to increase service at a lower cost. We've found the solution with URSA. In each of the three years we've been in production, we've doubled our number of interlibrary loans, but we have yet to increase our staff to accommodate the extra load.”
With URSA, a user places a request and the system automatically finds where the material is located. If the item is available, a notice is e-mailed to the requestor and the item is mailed to the requestor's library, all without staff mediation. “URSA automatically verifies if the material is available,” says Krall. “Everything is done on-line from the location where the user is requesting the item. Paperwork is eliminated.”
The goal of the Borrow Direct partnership was to decrease turn-around time. Participating libraries were pleasantly surprised when URSA exceeded their expectations. “We had hoped for a turn-around time of four working days,” says Krall, “but we're actually averaging 3.6 calendar days, which is remarkable given the number of departmental branch libraries we have on each of the campuses. Before URSA, we were averaging 10 days to two weeks, which is typical for traditional interlibrary loan services at ARL libraries.”
Users are receiving material more quickly while fill rates have actually improved, notes Krall. “Through the use of URSA, our fill rate is now about 90 percent.” Earlier studies showed only a 50 percent fill rate for ARL libraries using traditional interlibrary loan. With URSA, research no longer needs to bog down waiting for important material to be transferred from one location to another.
“We have been very pleased with epixtech's support for this product,” Krall concludes, “and we are looking forward to the next version of URSA with its companion product, iSelect.” With iSelect, interlibrary loan will be taken to the next level with even more robust functionality and options for home or office delivery of requested materials.
With more than 10,000 customers in 42 countries, epixtech is the world's leading provider of automation technologies, solutions, and services for libraries. Their award-winning library automation systems—including Dynix, NOTIS, Horizon Sunrise, and access products for patron self-services and interlibrary loan, along with its new Web-based solutions—are installed in more sites than any other library automation vendor. epixtech, formerly Ameritech Library Services, became a private corporation in December of 1999. epixtech library automation services meet the needs of academic, research, public, corporate, consortia, and K-12 school libraries. Headquartered in Utah, epixtech has offices in Evanston, Illinois; Waterloo, Ontario; as well as in Australia, France, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Taiwan. epixtech headquarters are located at 400 W. 5050 N., Provo, UT 84604 and at www.epixtech.com.