Below are the responses to the question I posted about how libraries receive requests from their clientele.  Names and locations have been excluded.
Thank you for you time!  This is very insightful and helpful.



What mode(s) of communication (eg. phone, e-mail, fax, etc.) do your library users use to submit requests for literature searches, reprints or services?

Are there any hospital libraries requiring the user to complete an online form to make a request?


Hi Nicole-

We use all forms of communication. We do have a form on our intranet site that gets quite a bit of use, but we don't require people to use it for requests. We get the majority of our requests via e-mail and phone, though we do have some folks that stop in. The physicians seem to use the phone and online form, and the nurses call or stop by.

Let me know if you want any examples of our forms.

Have a nice day!

All of the above--phone, fax, e-mail, in person, inter-office mail.

I don't require that they complete an online request, and I don't have any plans to do that because not all of the physicians who utilize the library services have access to our Intranet. Same situation with all of the patients and their familiy members, plus some of our hospital associates, who don't have their own computers. The library doesn't have a presence on our Internet site at this time, either.

I'm interested to see your summary.

Phone, email, fax, in-person, web form, Lonesome Doc -- however they want to get in touch with us. We're flexible and accommodating. Social Media (FaceBook, Twitter, instant messaging) will also be options once I get those accounts set up.

We have an online web form for those who seem to like filling out web forms, but it is certainly not required, or even the preferred method. Just another mode to communicate with us. Frankly, I'd rather talk to people--then I can do my reference interview.

Hello Nicole,

Our policy states that library services are provided only for hospital business and direct patient care for our patients. Many staff members, who are students in various academic programs, had a habit of asking for library services to support their academic program. In other words, they were asking the librarian to do their homework. This habit was viewed by management as inappropriate, since it took time (cost of librarian's time for searching) and resources (costs of interlibrary loan and copies) away from the hospital, for a purpose that was not directly related to business needs of the institution.

As a result, a form was created on the intranet, and certain staff members have to fill out an electronic request form for articles and/or literature searches. It will not process unless the user fills in a section indicating which manager/director authorized the search, and the purpose of the search. Staff who are managers or above, physicians, nurse practitioners, etc., do not need authorization by management.

Usually I ask everyone to fill out the form for a lit search - if they visit the library to make a request, they can access the form on one of the library computers. The form helps them provide the correct vocabulary so I can narrow the search; it also tells me where they looked prior to contacting me.

We use all modes of communication.
We provide the hospital staff an option of completing the online form.

Email, fax, drop off, or phone. I use to require a form but found it was more trouble than it was worth. People would forget, ask several questions, or just leave most of the items blank on the form. I try to have people email me if possible. It is much easier to keep track of emailed request. The form I had was on the library page, but since many physicians are now using Pubmed (Yes!!) they normally just send the request through the email function in Pubmed or print off the Pubmed citations (still working on getting all of them to email). Most search requests are sent by email or phone. When I send the information back to the patron it is by email 90% of the time. Only in certain circumstances will I fax or print requests. Please note requests through Docline that have copyright restrictions and require only 1 paper copy is made are always printed. Very rarely will I fax information to patrons (cost more in paper, time, ink, etc.). I will also page requestors when the information is urgent patient care. Additionally, with the ABOG reading list I post the items we have in house (all within copyright law) to a secure internal website that is password protected. This way I do not have to send multiple emails, print tons of articles, etc. I have about 25 OB/GYN in the area and fill this information for at least 20, which is a lot of paper. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any further assistance to you


We take requests in any form the patron uses. We get phone requests; some will write it down, but not very often. We usually fill out a form while the patron is making the request. The form we use just has the basics like name, department, date of request, their phone/fax number, topic, and a space of other pertinent info. We try to make things as easy as possible. I don't see my patrons filling out an online form under normal circumstances.

As a solo in a very busy hospital, I try to make it as easy as possible to get requests to me. I do have a form on the library's web page which some of the nurses fill out and fax or email to me.

The majority of my search requests, however, come in the form of emails to me (some phone calls), and these are often from my "regular" customers - MDs that I search for frequently.

Hi Nicole,

We use all of the modes of communication you mention. I do mention to our patrons to use the online form, but it is not required... most of the requests we receive come from email.

Anything and everything - whatever the user prefers. I don't have an online form; I figure if they're on the computer anyway, a plain ol' email is just fine and they feel like it's coming right to a real person.

Hi Nicole,

We use ALL of them. We try to make it convenient for the end-user, so we do have online forms they can fill out from the homepage of our library. They are not required, however. When it's during business hours and they are requesting articles we generally request they email us with their list - just makes it easier than filling out the form multiple times. When physicians call or come in with a lit search request, we have a form that we fill out as we are doing the reference interview with the literature search request details - helps us to remember to ask "when do you need this?" "how far back do you want us to go?" etc. Most people who have used us before email us with article requests or fill out the lit search form. But, new people (and most physicians) generally call with literature search requests.

Short of carrier pigeons we take requests however they can be submitted. We do have an online form if they choose to use it but phone, email, fax, notes on the door are all acceptable .

No, no online forms here, but I'm not automated and the library doesn't
have a Web site.

Most library requests come via interoffice mail, email, or telephone.

Nicole: We are not a hospital and we do not have a required method for requesting lit searches or other services. We accept requests in the format most convenient for our users, mainly public health researchers. We do have an online form on the main Battelle Library (Ohio) webpage but Seattle Library patrons don't use it. The majority of the requests come by e-mail, followed by in-person and over the phone (mainly offsite users). We do keep a log (spreadsheet) of the request with subject and file information and accompanying documentation so we do have accurate records.

email about 90%, walk-in to my office the rest

We use all of the modes of communication mentioned. We basically leave it up to the patron. We have an online form but do not require its use. A surprising number of people stop in and fill out forms here, which is nice because I get to ask for clarification. We get a lot of phone requests as well.

Phone, e-mail, fax, spoken, written, or via our online form.

Nicole: We accept requests for searches, copies of articles, etc. in person, by phone, fax, or email. Patrons may also fill out a request form on the library's intranet home page.

Hi, Nicole -
I don't require the use of an online form. I have one in development, and I hope to market it heavily to our in-house users to streamline the process. I serve hospital physicians and our affiliated clinics, so I receive all manner of requests - phone, fax, email, visit, and soon to be online.

I'm pushing the email requests quite heavily - the last librarian in my position was old-er school and didn't utilize email to the extent I do. People really seem to like it, and I think that they will like the online form once it's put together. But since I serve affiliate outlying clinics not on our hospital intranet, I cannot require the online form since I don't have an outside web presence. It makes things easier for both parties, since they can fill it out at their convenience, and there's the handwriting issue as well .... :)

Whatever you decide to do with it, good luck!

We take requests any way we can get them, or people can get them to us.
We do not require any specific method or media.

Patrons use the phone, e-mail, fax and in-person to place requests.

We are a small rural community hospital (90 beds) but our physicians and staff use all of those means plus stopping me in the hallway or leaving a note on my desk! Whatever it takes - we don't have a defined method.

Ours use phone, email, fax, or they (or their secretary/assistant) will stop by. I do not require that they use a form. It is very informal, and I do not want to do anything to discourage/intimidate potential patrons from using the library.

Fax, mail, e-mail, Loansome Doc, in-person form. We usually direct our patrons to one of these methods rather than take requests over the phone.
We don't have an online request form.

All of the above and do not require online form.

My clients use everything. But mostly phone or in person.

Nicole - I use all of them - fax, e-mail phone, stopping in the hallway... I've started carrying my cell phone with me, so if someone stops me I can enter the information that they are looking for as a text message to myself. The trick is remembering to check it when I get back to my office. J

We have paper forms in-house (though they're rarely used), and online forms through our website. The use of these forms is not required. The majority of our requests come from patrons who e-mail or call us directly. We also occasionally receive faxed requests.

We accept requests for any of our services in any format (phone, email, fax, online, Paper etc.)

We use the following modes of communication - phone, email, fax and in person. We have copies of our request forms in the library as well as on the library's webpage on the hospital intranet. Patrons are requested to complete and submit the forms in person, online or fax them but it is not mandatory.

We do have online forms, one for requesting articles, one for books/book chapters, and one for search requests. We provide them as a convenience, but they are not required. Patrons can call us with search or article/ book requests, but we prefer to take no more that 3 article requests over the phone - it gets confusing. They can also email us (this is preferred) and they can also fax us, or just drop by and hand us a list. Around here, it really would not make happy customers if they were "required" to only use one method alone. Sometimes they are not near a computer, but have a fax, or can call, etc. Also, sometimes people have very long lists (more that 30 articles) and making them type all those citations into a form seems almost cruel. Hope this help you answer your question.

Nicole Montgomery, MISLT
Librarian, Library Services
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Phone: (417) 269-3460


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