Web Magazine for Information Professionals

ILL: Interlibrary Loan Protocol

Lyndon Pugh and Chris Rusbridge on the National Library of Australia's ILL utility.

The National Library of Australia has selected Fretwell-Downing’s OLIB VDX, the same product chosen by the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee’s LIDDA (Local Interlending and Document Delivery Administration) Project as the heart of the new interlending and document delivery support services for the nation’s libraries.

OLIB (Open Library Systems) is Fretwell-Downing Informatics’ library management system, consisting of a family of products of which VDX (Virtual Document eXchange) is the product supporting ILL management. After trails in the DALI (Documents And Libraries Integrated) project for the European Commission the product was launched in late 1996. It is already in use with LASER. VDX complies with the ISO ILL Protocol (ISO 1016010161).

Bronwyn Lee of the National Library of Australia reports that the ILL Utility will support the creation of requests, selection of suppliers, tracking and management of requests and the ILL payments scheme and will feature World Wide Web access and integration with AMICUS. So National ILL Utility users will be able to search the National Bibliographic Database via Z39.50 and automatically include bibliographic and location data in ILL requests. In addition it will integrate with the ILRS directory for supplier data. There will be integration with the Ariel transmission system, support for multiple message protocols, centralised message services, ART for British Library Document Supply Service messaging and configurable email messaging. An Internet connection will be required, and the ILL Utility will have a single VDX server at the National Library providing request management functions for library staff using a Web interface.

There will be close cooperation between the LIDDA and ILL Utility to ensure that the requirements of the two systems are compatible. Both systems will use the VDX software. LIDDA users will be able to search the NBD, route requests to ILL Utility users (and vice versa) and participate in the ILL payments scheme.

Customer Libraries will access the National ILL Utility via a Web interface. Client software will not be distributed. Users with LIDDA systems will be able to use the LIDDA client to access the NBD and communicate with the National ILL Utility. This communication is enabled through the incorporation of the ISO ILL Protocol in VDX.

The new service will be implemented at the same time as Kinetica, which will come on stream according to schedule in the first quarter of 1999.

Chris Rusbridge (eLib Programme Director) writes: The LIDDA/ILL utility project gives a good idea of developments in another country which have been directly influenced by eLib developments. The story starts with JEDDS, a joint eLib project between the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee and the National Library of Australia, cooperating with the RLG to develop a version of their ARIEL document delivery system which would work closely with an inter-lending management system. JEDDS also worked directly with the eLib EDDIS project which is developing such a system, based on the Fretwell Downing VDX product, resulting in the system to be used in Australia in the LIDDA/ILL project.

Implementation of a large scale document delivery system of this kind is easier in Australia than here because of the availability of a national on-line union catalogue with holdings information (currently ABN, moving to a new system based on the Canadian AMICUS software shortly). Here we are hoping that a combination of COPAC (http://copac.ac.uk/copac) and the various ‘clumps’ projects will begin to provide this information in a way more appropriate to the scale and structure of UK higher education.

We are expecting to negotiate licences for the software being used by the Australians to be available to UK universities.

However, a distributed national system on the scale indicated is still a long way off in the UK. LAMDA (another eLib project developing into a service) is a parallel activity on a smaller scale; it will I believe be migrating to the product of the JEDDS project (released as ARIEL 2 by RLG).

A national system of this type may be more important in Australia because of the absence of a national service like the BL Document Supply Centre at Boston Spa. I understand that the DSC will be providing services based on compatible implementations of the ILL protocol referred to above, ie there is a good chance of inter-operability with the software the Australians are using and which we hope to make available.

Author Details

Chris Rusbridge
Director, Electronic Libraries Programme (eLib)
Tel: 01203 524979