The British Library has operated its docdel service on a prepayment basis for years. In the old days there were physical numbered request forms that you bought, and once the net came along these moved to some sort virtual form based on unique reference number. When I was at the BMA we had a large amount of ILL traffic, peaking at over 80,000/year. We introduced a system of BMA stamps which worked very well. We printed special BMA tokens in postage stamp format which libraries would buy in advance and then stick on whatever piece of paper they sent us bearing the ILL request: one stamp for next day, three for a fax (it was a while ago) and ten for the drop everything and send it now option. I think this system is still used, though obviously only for a small portion because most users now request via web forms. I believe they now use a monthly billing system which cumulates requests, which is based on Lotus Notes (not because that's necessarily sensible but because there was a programming genius who could do it for us). This sort of thing is only economical if the volume of work is there, so it may not be of huge help to you,I'm afraid. There are a couple of particular considerations about running any sort ofprepayment scheme. You must set a time-limit on how quickly a pre-purchased request must be used, after which the purchase lapses. This is for three main reasons: Firstly, the value of the purchase is slowly leeched away by inflation and you don't want to be in a position 10 years down the road to be having to fulfil ILL requests that were paid for at a fraction of your current cost level. Secondly, you need to keep a grip on the debt issue. In accounting terms, the amount of money spent pre-buying ILLs from you goes into one side of the balance sheet as revenue (good) but into the other side as debt because when you think about it the money represents work that people have paid you to do but which you haven't yet done but must expect to do sometimes. Thirdly, you have to keep this "debt" under control because at some point you will have to run it down or, worst case, pay it all back at once. The first is happening now as ILL goes onloine and volumes of requests collapse in the face of big deals and other means of making articles available. The second could (conceivably) follow on from, for example, a major change in the laws governing ILL provision which might make it illegal to carry on with the service. Having pre-bought requests "expire" after say 3 or 4 years puts the responsibility for managing this debt onto the requestors' shoulders and puts a secure cap on the amounts involved. There is good news as well as problems, though. You are putting extra cash into your organisation's coffers, which people will probably be pleased about. At the BMA it was c$100,000 current value. For your own protection, though, you need get and file safely a piece of paper with the finance director's name on it which shows that he/she understands what is going on and that there is $n,000 in the accounts which needs to be carried forward each year as debt and which may need to be found in the future outwith your operating budget. Tempting though it might be, you can't just go out and spend this windfall on beer and chips without exposing you or your succcessors to future disaster. Hope this helps, Tony Tony McSean Director of Library Relations Elsevier 84 Theobald's Road London WC1X 8RR +44 7795 960516 +44 20 76114413 -----Original Message----- From: Medical Libraries Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Craig, Tom Sent: 17 August 2006 19:30 To: [log in to unmask] Subject: Prepayment for document delivery I would like to hear the thoughts of anyone who requires or has ever required pre-payment for document delivery or interlibrary loan services and how such a policy might affect (positively or negatively) operations in general and QuickDoc specifically. I am being asked to come up with a way to charge in advance for articles instead of billing when the articles are delivered. In cases where an article can't be obtained, this will entail keeping a record of credits for overpayment and/or a refund system for overpayment. The campus cashier's office also advises against keeping credit card numbers on file. We charge flat rate for articles, but copyright fees are also sometimes required. Thanks in advance. --Tom *** Thomas B. Craig, MSLS, Interim Director of Library Services Watson W. Wise Medical Research Library The University of Texas Health Center at Tyler [log in to unmask] 903-877-7442 *** This message may contain confidential information and should not be forwarded or otherwise shared without the permission of the sender. Thoughts and opinions are those of the sender and do not constitute an official statement of the University of Texas.