Is it necessary to maintain a paper record of interlibrary loan borrower requests that are submitted by patrons, or is an electronic record of the past three years' requests sufficient?

Records in any form are sufficient. The CONTU Interlibrary Loan Guidelines simply say that the borrowing library must retain records for three calendar years. Certainly the intent of the Guidelines is that the library be able to search the records by title in order to determine when the library has reached its "suggestion of five" for that journal title for the calendar year. The Guidelines, however, are silent as to the format in which records must be retained; thus any format is permissible.

When an academic library obtains a copy of an article for a user through interlibrary loan, may it place an electronic copy of the article on a password-protected website for the user to retrieve rather than placing a photocopy of the article in the campus mail or e-mailing it to the user? If so, how long may the library leave it on the website for retrieval?

Many libraries have adopted this practice, even though the current section 108 of the Copyright Act does not envision such activity since the statute was adopted for a print and analog world. On the other hand, if only a single user can retrieve the article, one could argue that it is the equivalent of delivering one photocopy of the article to the user.

Articles should remain available on a website for only a limited time, such as one to three weeks. The user should be alerted that the article is available on the website with a single-user password and that it will remain available only for a limited period. After that time, the article should be deleted, even if the user has not yet retrieved it.

When a library receives a copy of an article from a document delivery company through ARIEL in response to an interlibrary loan request, how long can the library keep or archive this article? Can it be reused to satisfy another request for the same article by another patron?

This question mixes language somewhat. If the article is obtained from a document delivery company, it is not an interlibrary loan (ILL). Instead, it is document delivery, which does not have to satisfy the CONTU ILL Guidelines. If the copy of the article was obtained from such a company, that means that royalties were paid for the copy. In this instance, because royalties were paid, the library may reuse the copy. After the patron for whom the copy was purchased uses it, the patron can return it to the library, where it may be archived. The only restriction on the use of that copy is that it can be reproduced only if that reproduction is a fair use. Having determined that it should obtain the copy of the article from a document delivery company as opposed to a library under ILL, the requesting library may have made the decision that the use is not a fair use. If additional copies of the article are made, additional royalties are due since the library has paid only for one copy.

If the article is obtained from another library as an ILL, then royalties may not be due if the request is within the suggestion of five. The ILL Guidelines, however, place more restrictions on what may be done with a copy of an article so obtained. For example, the copy must become the property of the user. Thus, the library may not archive the article at all.

In a nonprofit research institute, can a researcher send a PDF of an article that the institute purchased to multiple collaborators on a project? It is to support the work on a project.

This question seems to indicate that the copy of the article was obtained from a document delivery service and that royalties were paid. But, royalties were paid for only one copy. If multiple collaborators share a printed copy of an article by passing it around, there is no problem because the article is not reproduced. If a PDF file is sent to multiple users, the law treats it as if a copy was made for each researcher. Royalties should be paid for each of those copies.

An academic library maintains the following information for each interlibrary loan: publication title, citation, date ordered, name of the librarian who ordered it, and name of the patron who wanted the material. Is it permissible to strip the identifying patron name from the records to be more compliant with patron privacy and still conform to the law?

It is true that borrowing libraries are required to retain interlibrary loan (ILL) records for three calendar years in order to comply with the CONTU ILL Guidelines. The Guidelines do not speak to the format in which the records must be maintained. Clearly, to determine whether a library has reached the suggestion of five, records must be searchable by journal title.

The issue of patron privacy is not contrary to the requirements of ILL recordkeeping requirements. There is no reason for the patron's name to be included in the records, and most libraries do not retain patron identification data in the ILL records.

A librarian in a for-profit educational institution asks about interlibrary loan and making copies for "the customer." The lending library sent an electronic copy, which the borrowing library then printed for its patron. (1) How does section 108(d) of the Copyright Act, which allows libraries to make single copies of articles for users, affect license agreements? (2) Could the article be forwarded to the patron in electronic format and still comply with the copyright law? (3) Does it matter if the article requested through ILL was published more than five years ago?

Assume that the library satisfies the section 108(a) requirements.

(1) When a patron requests an article that the library does not own, the first question is whether the for-profit library qualifies for the section 108 exceptions. This matter has never been litigated, but most librarians believe that even for-profit college libraries may take advantage of the CONTU Interlibrary Loan (ILL) Guidelines.

(2) The Copyright Act is silent on providing electronic copies via ILL, but many libraries certainly offer this. Whether the lending library itself scanned the article or whether the electronic copy came from a licensed product is important, however. If the latter, then the terms of the lending library's license agreement applies as to whether sending an electronic copy to satisfy an ILL request is permitted. Assume that the lending library's license agreement allowed use of the database to satisfy ILL requests and also permitted the library to send electronic copies to borrowing libraries for ILL. Then the borrowing library should be able to provide the electronic copy directly to the patron. If the lending library scanned the article itself, it may or may not be fair use. The ILL Guidelines do not deal with digital copying. Again, many libraries do it anyway. But the issue is less clear than under a license agreement.

(3) If the request is for an older article, then the ILL Guidelines do not apply because only the last five years of a journal title are governed by the Guidelines. Thus, there is no five-copy restriction per journal title each year and no recordkeeping requirement

Borrowing libraries that receive electronic copies from lending libraries typically deliver those to the user either as an e-mail attachment or by placing them on a password-protected website, and only that user has the password to retrieve that particular item. The library then should delete the item from the website within a limited time.

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