• English

Harvard Medical School

Harvard Medical School, Countway Library of Medicine
Susan P. Lieberthal, Document Delivery Librarian

The Interlibrary loan department of the Countway Library of Medicine, Harvard Medical School has been using ILLiad for almost a year. At present, Countway is using ILLiad on the lending side only, with plans to go live on the borrowing side in the near future.

“One stop shopping”

The most immediate benefit we found from using ILLiad was that we finally could have all lending requests both from OCLC and from Docline in one database. Being able to look up items at any time, whether by request number or by the symbol of the borrowing institution, allows us to provide speedy answers to customers' inquiries. There are several other ways to query the database. We also manually insert into ILLiad any rush requests that we have received via FAX, allowing us to eliminate these paper copies as well.

ILLiad compatibility with OCLC, RLIN and Docline

ILLiad was the first ILL management system to be truly compatible with OCLC and the National Library of Medicine (NLM) Docline system. ILLiad is also compatible with RLIN. Now that ILLiad is ISO compliant, and with the hope that all ILL systems in the future will move towards these standards, ILLiad is able to serve libraries that use more than one ILL system.


ILLiad mirrors interlibrary loan processes in general, in the fact that ILL is a step-by-step process. ILLiad guides the staff person step-by-step from downloading either from OCLC or Docline, to searching local catalogs and printing up all requests that need to be searched. Updating lending requests is also easy with ILLiad.

Although there is some staff time saved on the lending side, the real benefit in staffing is on the borrowing side. Once ILLiad is loaded and patrons' requests are imported seamlessly into the review file, there is no longer the need for someone to sit and retype patrons' requests anymore. Many institutions have been able to cut down on staffing in interlibrary borrowing. This results in a substantial saving to the institution, offsetting the cost of purchasing ILLiad, the required hardware and the service contract.

Communication with the borrower

Today's student or researcher receives much of their communication with colleagues and officials in the institution via email. ILLiad has designed the borrowing component with this in mind. There is no longer the need for arduous telephone tag between the patron and the interlibrary borrowing department. Patrons are in control of their interlibrary borrowing activities and can log in at any time to watch the progress of their requests.

ILLiad provides seamless electronic delivery of articles coming into the library via Ariel. This speeds up delivery of articles to the patron's desktop. We look forward to using this feature, as approximately 70% of journal articles that we order are delivered via Ariel.


ILLiad offers flexible billing options on the lending side. For those who do all their billing in-house, ILLiad's billing module is robust. There is the ability to generate invoices, and check off items as payments are received at the lending library. ILLiad recognizes items that are part of OCLC's IFM (Interlibrary Loan Fee Management). ILLiad has also developed a module for medical libraries that participate in the Docline cooperative EFTS (Electronic Fund Transfer System). ILLiad keeps EFTS filled requests in a separate file on the ILLiad server. Each month the lending library can FTP this EFTS file to their Regional Medical Library or to the University of Connecticut Health Sciences Library that manages the transfer of funds among participating Docline institutions. This saves a lot of time and expense compared to conventional billing.

For all non-IFM and non-EFTS filled requests that Countway has filled for other libraries, Atlas Systems has helped Countway systems staff to build a billing component that is compatible with Harvard University's Central Accounts Receivable billing system.

ILLiad has recently developed a billing module on the borrowing side. This will prove useful to large research and medical libraries that bill their own borrowers for items. Atlas Systems has indicated a willingness to help with customization of this billing module.


ILLiad has a wide range of reports allowing the interlibrary loan office to keep accurate statistics of interlibrary loan activities. These reports are constantly improved and enhanced with each client release. Atlas Systems will assist with customizing special reports.

Many of the improved reports and other system enhancements have been designed and implemented as a result of Atlas System's responsiveness to customer suggestions. With OCLC licensing ILLiad, and the dynamic team at Atlas Systems supporting and further developing the product, ILLiad can look forward to a bright future in the complex world of interlibrary loans and document delivery.

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