Streamlining inter-lending and document supply 

In the NHS LKS community we have been pondering for years, if not decades, how we might streamline inter-lending and document supply processes, in order to:

  • make it quicker and easier for LKS staff to manage requests and source suppliers
  • make it quicker and easier and for end users to place and receive their requests
  • optimise use of NHS- purchased content and reduce the risk of paying external sources for articles which are in fact available within the NHS

In recent years, reciprocal inter-lending and document supply has extended to cover the whole of England. The INC scheme is a great example of working collaboratively across the country. However, the underpinning systems haven’t necessarily kept up. ILL staff have developed smart ways of working, but it can still be unnecessarily time-consuming to check different catalogues, copy and paste data from one system to another, or maintain holdings data and library user information in more than one place. The need to ensure compliance with copyright and data protection legislation adds to the complexity. The mechanics of requesting items are also different for end users across the country.

The arrival of the National Discovery Service and the plan to migrate towards fewer, regional library management systems presents an opportunity to review document requesting and supply workflows and consider what improvements may be made. Library services which have implemented local discovery systems report that this can increase demand for inter-lending and document supply services. We need sourcing and supply processes to be as efficient as possible to meet the demand and extend the reach of our services.

So, as the National Discovery Service and library management system work progresses, we will work with system suppliers and library staff to explore opportunities. Please look out for future requests for input from library staff willing to help us with considering workflows and test solutions. More news to follow in due course.

For more information on the National Discovery Service, have a look at the FAQs.

Jenny Toller, chair of the SINC Group which oversees the INC scheme

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