Internet Survey on Interlibrary Loan and Video
Kristine Brancolini and Steven Egyhazi

The members of the Video Round Table first discussed issues related to the interlibrary loan of videorecordings at Midwinter 1994, in Los Angeles. Paula Murphy, representing the Dance Librarians Discussion Group of the ARCL Art Section, asked us to explore ways we might help improve access to video collections held by other libraries. Videorecordings are vitally needed by dance scholars, but dance librarians have found that few libraries are willing to lend their videorecordings. Our preliminary discussion at Midwinter revealed that few among us are lending videorecordings and we cited some of the reasons why. However, we agreed to take steps to make it easier for librarians who want to lend videorecordings to other libraries to do so.

At Midwinter 1995, in Philadelphia, we will be meeting with other interested librarians from the Public Library Association and interlibrary loan groups to discuss a draft ALA resolution on the interlibrary loan of video that Paula Murphy drafted last fall. In order to gather more information, I conducted a quick survey on the Internet, asking representatives from libraries that lend video to share their experiences with us. We wanted to explore some of the objections that we had heard raised about the interlibrary loan of video. Have libraries that lend videorecordings experienced the difficulties anticipated by libraries that do not?

The preliminary results from the survey follow. They were compiled by Steve Egyhazi, a student in the Indiana University School of Library and Information Science; he worked as an intern in my department during the fall semester 1994. Complete results of the Internet phase of the survey will be presented in Philadelphia. Any VRT member who did not respond to the Internet survey is invited to respond now. If you want to receive an electronic questionnaire form, please send me an e-mail message: Or you may mail or fax the survey form in this issue of the VRT News: Kristine Brancolini, Media and Reserve Services, Main Library W101A, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405; fax: 812/855-1649. If you are offering video on interlibrary loan, even with numerous restrictions, we would like to hear about your experiences.

Preliminary Results

The survey, "Interlibrary Loan and Video," was divided into two parts. In November 1994 the first part was posted to three listservs, ILL-L, Media-L, and Videolib. Since ILL-L is monitored by interlibrary loan personnel, I asked that the questionnaire be forwarded to a media librarian, if appropriate. Anyone responding to the first part of the survey was sent the second, longer questionnaire. Although the first part of the survey was received entirely electronically, I received responses to the follow-up questionnaire by fax and by mail as well.

Twenty-six libraries completed both the short and the follow-up questionnaire, with the following breakdown by type of library: 4 public, 17 college/university, 1 school, and 5 special libraries. The median size of video collection was between 1,000 and 2,000. The median length of time lending video to other libraries was between 5 and 10 years.

Respondents to the follow-up questionnaire supplied information about formats collected and lent, restrictions on the interlibrary lending of video, loan lengths, the volume of video ILL during the previous year, and problems encountered. The questionnaire concluded with an open-ended question, asking respondents to summarize the most serious problems encountered in the interlibrary lending of video.

Restrictions. Half of the respondents reported that their library does not restrict ILL to types of libraries or to particular institutions, but half do. Specific restrictions mentioned included lending only within a university system, within the state, to "like" institutions, and within consortia and networks. A majority of libraries, sixty-one percent, do not restrict lending to categories of users. Of the thirty-five percent that reported restrictions, specific restrictions included "other libraries, not individuals"; other media centers; health professionals/students; licensed medical practitioners; faculty only. Public libraries generally did not restrict ILL by category of user; most were found in academic or special libraries. This is understandable, as some of the special libraries' primary purpose to provide interlibrary loan to a particular category of user. Fifty-four percent did not restrict ILL by type of use. The eleven percent that did specified in-house viewing only, non-profit users, no public performances, and classroom instruction only. Sixty-five percent restrict lending of particular titles. Specific types of videos excluded from lending include "expensive" titles; locally-produced, archival titles; and titles in heavy demand in the holding library. Others mentioned lending only non-fiction titles and those that are specifically cleared for lending by the distributor.

Loan Length. Loan lengths ranged from two days plus shipping to four weeks. Nineteen percent said it "depends upon the situation." Excluding the latter group, the media loan length was two weeks.

Volume of Lending. Most libraries are not lending a large number of videos. The largest percentage of respondents, thirty-seven percent, lent fewer than 25 videos during 1993/94. Nineteen percent lent between 26 and 100; twenty-three percent between 101 and 300; and only four percent (one library) lent more than 300.

Difficulties Encountered. The good news is that thirty-one percent reported no difficulties. Thirty-eight percent reported frequent overdues, thirty-one percent slow shipments, fifteen percent shipment damage, twelve percent patron complaints, eight percent user damage, and eight percent non-returns. The last question allowed respondents to elaborate on their responses to this question. Many of them added lengthy comments. Only a sample will be reported here.

"We've never had any damage to our videos--we've only had one audio tape damaged through ILL in two years." -- Academic library

"One of the most frequent complaints is from our users not being able to borrow AV materials from other institutions. We loan, but there are few libraries that reciprocate." -- Academic library

"We have had to increase the insurance rate for shipping nonprint items because the normal rate for books doesn't cover the replacement cost if the item is lost in shipping." -- Academic library

"I lend videos on a case-by-case basis, dependent upon the subject, anticipated local demand, and type of library requesting material. " This library doesn't lend to public libraries, due to their "lack of coercive power to get their patrons" and their use of library rate to ship materials. They require that videos be shipped UPS. -- Academic library

"Often get complaints from faculty members about tapes they want being out. However, our policy is clear that materials should be booked in advance. We do not lend tapes that are no longer available for purchase. We also charge replacement cost instead of a flat fee, since some videos are very expensive." -- Academic library

"The most serious problem we have is constant requests for 'commercially-available' titles -- ones you could get from a video rental store. Considering the cost factors for ILL, we refuse these requests out of hand." -- Academic library

"Only occasional overdues and very occasional shipment damage." -- Academic library

"My only concern is that we lend all formats but have a hard time borrowing AV items when we need them. But I believe in lending all formats and this has not presented any problems." -- Public library.

"The problems we have encountered lending out books, we have also encountered lending out videos. But this does not mean any added work or problems." -- Public library

"Not exactly a problem, but little or no reciprocation from those who borrow from us. As long as we don't hurt our own patrons, though, we go ahead and loan to them." -- Public library

"Patrons sometimes forget to return our special shipping cases, and return AV's in regular jiffy bags. We then have to write or call them to get them back." -- Special library

"The only two problems we have had so far have been: slow mail service -- unfortunately, we can't do anything about that! Overdue materials due to patrons' tardiness. Once we get a bill to the patrons, they usually find the videos right away. (One patron, after receiving a $5,000 bill for our Deming set, almost set the envelope on fire he returned it so fast!)" -- Special library

"We have been incredibly lucky in that usually a phone call brings in overdues and we've only experienced user damage a few times in the five years I have been working with AV's." -- Special library.


The interlibrary loan of video does not appear to present the serious problems feared by libraries that do not offer their videos for interlibrary loan. Real problems exist in the interlibrary lending all materials, but that should not exclude video from this practice. We do not refuse to lend books for these reasons. Libraries have found ways to minimize the difficulties encountered in lending videos. Most of these libraries are not lending a large number of videos each year, but many report that they are having trouble borrowing from other libraries, so that may be a factor. Some libraries reported that they will not attempt to borrow videos because so many libraries refuse to lend.

No one wants to lend videorecordings if no one will lend to their users. It is important that we reciprocate. One suggestion: Start small. Begin lending within your metropolitan area, to other academic libraries in your state, or to other school or public libraries within your region. If we work through problems on a small scale, perhaps we will find that we can expand our group of borrowing partners. Your users will benefit. By making the interlibrary loan of video more widely acceptable, your users will have access to titles that your library does not own. To serve our users we must be willing to share video resources with others.

Questionnaire #1

This message has been posted to ILL-L, Media-L, and Videolib. Please excuse the cross posting.


The Video Round Table of ALA has been asked to help develop guidelines for the interlibrary loan (ILL) of videorecordings. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this practice is not widespread. Libraries that lend videorecordings tend to do so with many restrictions and only among a limited number of lending partners. Some media librarians would like to lend videorecordings, but they are meeting resistance both within the library and from users. Prior to formulating some guidelines, we would like to gather information from libraries of all types -- especially public and special libraries -- that are currently lending videorecordings on ILL. We want to learn from your experiences in order to ease the way for other libraries that would like to lend and borrow videorecordings.

If your library lends videorecordings and you would be willing to complete a brief questionnaire, please respond to the following questions and forward your answers to me via e-mail. I will send you a follow-up questionnaire, asking about your experiences in more detail. If your library has a separate staff that manages the video collection, please forward this message to the appropriate person. We are particularly interested in hearing from media librarians or media department staff.

The results of the survey will be reported in the Video Round Table Newsletter and will be discussed at the Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association in Philadelphia. If you would like to receive the results of the survey individually, please send me an e-mail message requesting them.

Kristine Brancolini
Head, Media and Reserve Services

Name  _________________________  Title:  ________________________

Library ______________________________  Phone:  _________________

1.  Type of library?

Public  ____  College/University  ____  School  ____

Special ____  Please specify type: _____________________________

2.  Approximate size of video collection: ______________________

3.  How long has your library been lending videorecordings?

Less than 1 year ____  1 - 5 years ____  5 - 10 years  ____

More than 10 years ____    

Questionnaire #2


Please send your responses to Kristine Brancolini, Chair, Video Round Table, by mail (Media and Reserve Services, Indiana University Libraries, Bloomington, IN 47405) or by e-mail ( Your responses will be strictly confidential. All results will be reported anonymously.
Name:  _______________________________  Title:___________________

Library:  ____________________________________ Phone:  __________

1.  What video formats does your library collect?  Which of these
do you lend on interlibrary loan (ILL)?

a.  Collect:
3/4" ____  VHS  ____  Laserdisc ____  Other ____ Please specify:

b.  Lend on ILL:
3/4" ____  VHS  ____  Laserdisc ____  Other ____ Please specify:

2.  Does your library restrict ILL of video to types of libraries
or particular institutions?  Yes ____   No ____

If yes, please describe:_______________________________________

3.  Does your library restrict ILL video to particular categories
of users?   Yes ____  No ____

If yes, please describe: ______________________________________

4.  Does your library restrict ILL by type of use? Yes __  No __

If yes, please describe: ______________________________________

5.  Does your library restrict the ILL of specific titles?  
Yes ____   No ____

If yes, please describe:________________________________________

6.  What is your loan length for the ILL of video? _____________

7.  How many videorecordings did you lend last year (1993/94) on
ILL? ________ (Please feel free to estimate.)

8.  What difficulties have you encountered with the ILL of video?
(Check all that apply.)

Frequent overdues ____    Non-returns ____   User damage ____

Shipment damage ____  Slow shipments ____  

Complaints from our users ____  Other ____ Please specify: 


Please summarize the most serious problems you encounter in the ILL of video and any steps you have taken to correct these problems.