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Analysis of Interlibrary Loan Borrowing Data (2006-2007)

I joined the library leadership team at Liberty University in 2003. At the time, our library supported fewer than 8,000 students. Over the next 6 years our enrollment quadrupled, straining the capacity of our book collection to support students’ needs. For several years we grew increasingly dependent on borrowing materials from other libraries—an indication of weak local library holdings—even as our lending to other libraries remained flat (see chart).

Interlibrary loan chart

In the fall of 2006 I began spending about half my time assessing the library’s performance. My first major project was to find solutions to our interlibrary loan (ILL) borrowing problem, which was actually a set of collection management problems. I analyzed the details of more than 36,000 borrowing records, identifying patterns that revealed weaknesses in our collection. We made a number of changes that stabilized our ILL borrowing and led to increased lending. I’m happy to report that by 2013, continued organizational attention to data and innovation had reduced the borrowing-lending ratio to 1.4:1.