Milne Library expands Information Delivery System

Milne Library’s Information Delivery System recently surpassed 100 member libraries. The IDS Project was created in 2004 in order to better share loanable material with other member libraries. IDS Project Executive Director Mark Sullivan described the growth trajectory for the number of member libraries.

“We started in 2004 at 12 libraries and it’s been a slow growth,” he said. “But we have been getting more and more members over the past years. One of our newest members is the University of Hawaii at Manoa.”

The recent upsurge in library membership can partly be explained by the expansion of IDS outside of New York, according to Sullivan.

“We’ve offered a lot of additional services to libraries, plus we’ve gone outside New York State,” he said. “We were originally just in a New York State cooperative until about two years ago. We’ve been adding members since then, both within New York State and more frequently outside.”

IDS Project Creative Technologist Bill Jones discussed the broad impact that more member libraries have for the campus.

“What this really means for Geneseo is that it’s opening up access to things that we would normally have to pay for,” he said. “We can get [books and articles] for free or for very low cost for students and faculty.”

Jones further explained how more member libraries specifically lower costs.

“Traditionally, we would just subscribe to journal packages,” he said. “If we didn’t have journals available for students through inter library loans, we would have to look to outside institutions to purchase those individual articles from them, so that could be about $25 an article and up,” he said. “So the more member libraries we get, the more free resources that we have available for SUNY Geneseo students.”

In addition to creating a greater resource of materials for Geneseo students, the enlarged IDS system is also more efficient, according to Sullivan.

“Some of the workflow analysis that our mentors do with each of the [new] libraries helps them improve their services,” he said. “There’s been a lot of enhancement in efficiency over the past decade.”

Greater efficiency has translated into a faster system for students and faculty receiving materials, Jones added.

“If we can make the request process faster, that means that we can get the things that [people] need faster,” he said. “It makes it faster for students because it allows the staff that is processing the requests to do their jobs more efficiently. There’s a lot of behind the scenes things that you don’t see as a patron submitting a request. There’s, I would say 50 to 100 steps, even teeny steps, before that item is in your hands.”

IDS has also instituted some new programs to improve the acquisition process, according to Sullivan.

“We just recently started producing what’s called ‘Article Gateway,’” he said. “It’s a new system that handles purchasing of articles and checks to see what the best way to obtain it is. It makes recommendations to the staff here so that we’ve got the best options available and the quickest delivery for staff and students.”

IDS was originally started to provide students with more resources that were originally unavailable to students, according to Jones.

“I think it’s important to note that this project was founded in 2004 by the SUNY Council of Library Directors. They were frustrated with the fact that they couldn’t own everything their students wanted, but they also couldn’t afford to buy everything and they needed to find a way to ship things really fast and freely,” he said. “IDS has had a slow, but steady growth, but it was really out of desperation that we couldn’t offer students all the things that they needed and we couldn’t afford to buy it.”