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    About a month ago I messaged MEDLIBers asking for information
about charging clients to verify difficult and/or incomplete
citations and requiring clients to prepay a flat fee for each ILL
request. I was asked to summarize responses for the listserv. Here
they are.
    No one who responded charges for verifications. One person said
she verifies using "free" sources only. Others exhaust all resources.
But no one charges.
    Below is a report I wrote for our Library Advisory Committee
recommending that we change to a flat, prepaid fee policy. It
includes the responses I received from MEDLIBers as well as a few of
my own arguments. I hope this is helpful. Thank you to all who
responded.
 
Catherine
 
Reasons for Initiating a Prepay, Flat Fee Policy for Interlibrary
Loans
 
    The interlibrary loan department would like to initiate a new fee
policy on September 1, 1994. Library clients will be expected to
prepay a flat fee for each interlibrary loan request. The fee will be
$3.00 per request for faculty, staff and students affiliated with the
University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, University Hospital
and The Children's Hospital; the fee will be $10.00 per item for
anyone with no affiliation to UCHSC. Denison Library-owned materials
that are missing, damaged or at the bindery will continue to be
obtained at no charge for affiliated clients. There are many
advantages to this new policy, including: greater efficiency; faster,
more accurate service to our clients; lower costs to the library; no
increase in overall costs to clients; a more informed clientele; and
greater customer satisfaction.
 
      Prepayment will lower interlibrary loan operating costs by
reducing the number of superfluous requests. Clients will be
motivated to be more selective when ordering. At present, 15 - 20
articles per month are discarded, costing the library approximately
$3240 - $4320 per year. Since clients are not required to pay for
interlibrary loans until they pick them up, they often order more
articles than they need, picking up only those that arrive first.
Others decide that they no longer need items after the library has
paid to obtain them. We recently discovered that one UCHSC student
was routinely requesting materials, agreeing to pay for them, but
only picking up those articles he could have for no charge. The
savings generated by a flat fee could be used for other needs, such
as adding new journal subscriptions to the collection.
 
      Prepayment of a flat fee will facilitate communication between
library staff and clients. It affords staff the opportunity to
clarify policies, identify unrealistic service expectations, ensure
that all necessary information has been provided and remedy other
common problems. Many of the problems that delay filling clients'
requests under the present system will be eliminated.
 
      Prepayment will improve department morale since staff can feel
that they are providing a necessary service, filling requests that
are of genuine interest to the people who requested them. Improved
morale often goes hand-in-hand with improved efficiency.
 
      Charging a flat fee will eliminate the guesswork regarding
costs. Clients will be aware of their costs at the time they make
requests. Staff will not waste time trying to decipher a complicated
fee structure to predict costs for clients. Staff will be able to
emphasize speed and accuracy, rather than trying to locate materials
only at those libraries that do not charge for interlibrary loans.
The number of libraries that do not charge for interlibrary loans is
dwindling, making it increasingly difficult and time-consuming to
locate items at no charge.
 
      Charging a flat fee for each interlibrary loan will promote an
awareness of the costs of library services. A 1993 study conducted by
the Association of Research Libraries found that the average cost to
borrow an item is $18.00. Most of our clients probably have little
idea of the costs involved in obtaining interlibrary loans. A more
informed clientele would likely make more appropriate, cost-effective
requests.
 
      Charging a flat fee for each interlibrary loan request will be
more equitable. Clients who need materials available only from
libraries that charge will not be penalized, as they are under the
current system.
 
      Charging a flat fee will not increase overall costs to clients.
Approximately one-third to one-half of the interlibrary loan requests
currently made have an associated $8-$10 fee per request. Under the
flat fee system, clients would only pay $3 per request, less than
half of what they pay currently. Even though they would pay a small
fee for every request, overall, their costs would be about the same.
 
 
 
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Catherine M. Reiter                         Denison Memorial Library
(303) 270-6444                              University of Colorado
(303) 270-6255 (fax)                            Health Sciences Center
[log in to unmask]            Denver, CO 80262
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