Library launches new loan service

by Donovan Jackson
42nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

11/27/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -  -- Created as a direct response to feedback from student and faculty surveys regarding the process for borrowing sources from other libraries, the Muir S. Fairchild Research Information Center introduced its new online interlibrary loan service on Nov. 1.

The loan service, called ILLiad, allows a user from one library to request books, photocopies, journal articles, audio recordings and maps located at other libraries within the Network of Alabama Academic Libraries and Worldshare Interlibrary Loan service.

"Air University faculty and students, as a standard practice, are involved in research that brings recognition to the institution and the United States Air Force," said Ron Dial, reference branch chief at the MSFRIC. "Our role is to aid researchers in the preparation it takes to complete their theses and dissertations, write articles and produce books for publication. The center provides an information-sharing network among peers and scholars with similar research interests."

Previously, students who wanted to borrow a source from another library had to complete a service request form. The request form was then transferred by a staff member to the library's database, where it was then sent to the library that owned the requested source.

According to professors, the process was too lengthy.

"While our library has a fine collection of material, I frequently have to turn to the interlibrary loan to receive different sources," said Dr. Douglas Peifer, a professor in the department of strategy at the Air War College.

"Under the old system, I had to fill out a form for each and every request for ILL material, inputting my name, address, contact info, email, and phone number for each form," he said. "Then I waited until I received an email letting me know the material had arrived."

Other AU faculty members also have found the new service useful, making for a better user experience.

"Not only am I very happy that this resource that has been made available to us, I am also very impressed with it," said Dr. Marcia Ledlow, course director of leadership and warfare at the Air Command and Staff College. "This service is especially useful in regard to hunting down books for potential use in the curriculum. Right after the announcement came out, I grabbed my book wish list and put in just a few requests, and I will be putting in more, soon."

According to Dial, the new services are aimed at making sure each student and professor who utilizes the system can obtain what they need with "minimal technological resistance."

The ILLiad service includes a 24/7 borrowing service and registration identification that eliminates the need to re-enter the same personal data on every request form. In addition, faculty and students now will have access to a browser window that displays the progress being made to acquire research materials and documents. Each step in the process will generate an electronic response showing the status of the source requested.

"The new interlibrary loan portal will save me time because I will be able to request and track materials from any computer and only need to stop by the ILL office for pickup and drop-off," said ACSC student Maj. Steven Lipinski.