Interlibrary loan free of charge at USI in 2021
Institutional Communication Service
Swisscovery is the new system that brings together the resources of 470 university and scientific libraries in Switzerland. USI Libraries has also adopted it since 7 December 2020, and the transition has given rise to considerations on the possible changes in interlibrary loan and document delivery services from outside the Canton. Initially, USI Libraries considered introducing minimum fees for the use of such services both for external patrons and for members of the USI community (students and academic staff). However, for the moment, interlibrary loan services remain free of charge at USI for the intermediate staff. The gratuity is also extended to students if the loan is within the Swiss borders.
This initial choice's goal was (and remains) to make library users aware of the significance of the services available.
A concrete example: if a user borrows a book from Basel, an action made even easier by swisscovery, the book is boxed up and sent to Lugano, where it is then unboxed and made available. Therefore, it is clear that this simple operation involves the work of several people and has a significant ecological impact (packaging, transport, etc.).
To finance eco-sustainable measures and reduce the ecological footprint generated by interlibrary loan, USI Libraries have thought about introducing minimum fees also for internal patrons. An idea that, however, at the moment, is destined to remain as such. For 2021 it has been decided to make these services (if performed within the Swiss borders) free of charge for all USI community members.
"The free service" underlines Davide Dosi, director of the University Library of Lugano, "is only ostensible since the costs of interlibrary loan will weigh on the libraries' budgets. At the end of the year, we will take stock of what has been decided and evaluate whether adjustments are necessary. I'm pleased with the solution adopted, but I want the users to understand the significance of their actions and their repercussions on the environment, carefully verifying the presence in our libraries of the material needed. Before asking for a loan, patrons should consider if what they need is necessary and if it can be accessed through other channels".