Second International Conference On Interlending And Document Supply

Alison Gallico

The Second International Conference on Interlending and Document Supply was held on 19–21 November 1990, again at the New Connaught Rooms in central London. With almost 200 delegates from 29 countries, the event was as successful as the first conference in 1988, and was equally wide–ranging in scope. Among the developing countries represented at the Conference were Egypt, Fiji, India, Saudi Arabia, and Senegal. There were also delegates from Eastern Europe: Lithuania, Poland, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia. Not surprisingly, new technology was at the forefront of discussions, but the more basic issue of serving the customer’s needs was not forgotten.

David Bradbury opened the proceedings with an overview of the achievements and challenges of interlending and document supply in this time of change. He was followed by Maurice Line, who spoke of the importance of measuring the performance of interlending and document supply systems in order to facilitate the national and international planning of document supply systems.

The question of the costs of interlibrary cooperation was raised by Sharon Bonk, who reviewed the approaches taken to costing in different countries, with special emphasis on the national interlending costing model developed in the United Kingdom. Graham Cornish developed this theme in his talk on charging policies and practices for international interlending and document supply, the diversity of which he saw as one of the major barriers to effective document supply. A circulating voucher system would avoid many small transactions which are expensive to administer, and could be used by both developed and less developed countries.

Simon Chisnall spoke about new developments in international document transport, both electronic and physical, arguing that, regardless of legislation, the development of the Single Market in Europe will see increased liberalization of the document transmission market. Eamon Fennessy presented the other side of the picture with his talk on the rights and responsibilities of photocopying, where reproduction often slips into piracy. He stressed the importance of the integrity of intellectual property, and argued that centralized collection mechanisms could solve the problem of illegal photocopying.

Over the past 10 years, the library community has seen many projects dealing with technical improvements for the library at one end of the information chain and for the customer at the other. Ulrich Korwitz took this as his theme and tried to determine whether systems such as DOCDEL, TRANSCOC, APOLLO, DOCMA TCH and ADONIS provide the solution for all parties or whether they are themselves part of the problem. The issue was continued by Makx Dekkers in his presentation on OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) and networking in interlending and document supply. His main premise was that standardization, although vital to networking, should be service–driven rather than technology–driven, since it is the problem of incompatibility in current services that needs to be addressed, rather than technical incompatibilities.

Ray Lester examined the organizational implications of full–text online retrieval of materials, covering the costs and benefits, copyright implications and possible future uses. Kathleen Imhoff talked about the pros and cons of CD–ROM as a tool to enhance document supply, viewing it as a vast and cheap medium which solves many of the traditional problems of interlending, and giving an insight into the planning necessary for libraries to convert to CD–ROM storage.

Recent national and regional developments in the world of interlending were covered by Noritada Otaki in his talk about the Japanese National Diet Library’s new document supply centre, Kansai–Kan; by Libena Vocac, who talked about Norway’s new National Library branch in Mo i Rana; by Christian Lupovici with his presentation on new developments at INIST (the Institut de !’Information Scientifique et Technique) of the Centre Nationale de Recherche Scientifique in Nancy, France; and by Christine Hasemann, who described the efforts made by SIGLE (the System for Information on Grey Literature in Europe) to collect, control and give access to grey literature throughout Europe.

Three sessions emphasized the importance of special materials, an area which is often neglected. Audiovisual materials and the difficulties faced in making them accessible via interlibrary loan were discussed by Clifford Knowles, who negotiated the minefield of contractual and copyright difficulties, customs and excise regulations and format incompatibilities. Willi Höfig described the situation regarding interlibrary loan of newspapers, a medium with its own special problems, with special reference to Germany. Peter Robson gave a contrasting picture of the patent situation, where patent information users can count on an almost 100% request fill rate by exploiting the services of well–developed national and local, public and private sector patent document suppliers. The accessibility of patent information is set for a dramatic increase with the availability of full–text patent documents on CD–ROM.

The issue of providing a document supply service from a distributed national collection was raised by Colin Steele in the context of the Australian system. He discussed the development of an effective national bibliographic database (and how this should be constituted) and the coordination of national development policies. Carrol Lunau described a proposed resource sharing strategy for Canada, a country with highly–developed ILL systems which have evolved to meet the specific needs of each region. The strategy will ensure the coordination of the various regional models with the aim of granting equitable access to library resources to all Canadians.

All the world knows about the changes which have taken place in Eastern Europe over the past two years. Algimantas Staskevicius talked about ILDS and glasnost–the impact of recent political changes in Lithuania on information demand and supply. This impact has been enormous, with an explosion both in publishing and in the demand for fresh information. Sadly, Lithuania’s economic situation means that the country is in no position to meet these new demands. A view of ILDS in another arena was given by Harold Holdsworth, who presented Esther Williams’s paper on the challenges in the 1990’s for interlending in the South Pacific. This area has its own set of problems, largely in the areas of finance and public awareness, exacerbated by geographical, political, and cultural considerations. However, there is a lively interest in the development of a formal ILDS system in the region.

The final sessions were devoted to that most important of persons in interlending and document supply: the customer. Virginia Boucher took the view of the intermediary, and stressed the importance of the role of the interlibrary loan librarian in helping the customer to thread a way through the ever–changing maze of available information. Keith Clayton spoke as a bona fide end–user whose view of interlending and document supply was inevitably coloured by his interaction with the only visible manifestation of the system: the staff of his own library. He saw the wider provision of photocopies as the greatest single benefit to the end–user over the past 20 years, while local restrictions placed on the use of ILL services was the greatest problem.

The conference was concluded by David Wood of the British Library, Editor of Interlending and Document Supply and organizer of the conference. It was generally agreed that the impetus created by these two conferences on interlending and document supply should be maintained by holding the event again in 1992.

The conference proceedings will be published later in 1991. Anyone interested in receiving details (when available) should contact Alison Gallico. Research Officer, IFLA Office for International Lending, British Library, Boston Spa, United Kingdom LS23 7BQ.

Report prepared by Alison Gallico.

© 1990 Alison Gallico