This paper is the result of a small cost study of resource sharing services in 23 North American libraries. Its aim is to discuss trends that have affected resource sharing costs since the last comprehensive study.
Selected libraries were approached for this phase of study. A pilot phase helped to clarify the cost and service definitions and revise the database which served as the data collection instrument.
Immediate access to electronic items at point of use has resulted in user demand for faster turnaround for physical materials. This in turn has led to increased costs for ILL technology and shipping. Costs have decreased but continue to show a noticeable disparity between ILL borrowing and lending. The data also clearly support the perception that patron initiated Circ-to-Circ module requests have a lower per transaction cost than traditional ILL.
Libraries have been relying on cost data that is now almost ten years old. While this study is small, the data provide an updated benchmark to assist libraries in making effective decisions regarding resource sharing. The study illustrates a range of costs which reinforce the need for libraries to investigate their own average costs to optimize decision making.
Received 12 March 2012. Accepted 12 March 2012. Published with the kind permission of IFLA, www.ifla.org/ The authors wish to thank the staff of all the libraries that participated in the pilot project, who generously provided not only their data but thoughtful comments and feedback which helped to refine the prototype costing tool. They also wish to thank the staff from all of the libraries who contributed data to the study. The database is more accurate and the data are richer and more meaningful because of them, proving once again that librarians accomplish more when they share their resources with one another.This paper was originally presented at the IFLA 12th Interlending & Document Supply Conference held in Chicago, 19-21 September 2011.
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