By Ellen Meltzer, CDL Information Services Manager

While Request functionality will be accessible from the UC-eLinks service menu at the start of the Next Generation Melvyl pilot, easier and more intuitive access to the current Request system has been postponed from June to early fall.  The delay is due to the complexity in building UC Request (Interlibrary Loan) into OCLC WorldCat Local (WCL) and the desire to have as successful and robust a system as UC currently has.

What will this mean for us?
The pilot will still be launched in April.  Each campus will have its own local version of Melvyl (e.g., ucla.worldcat.org) with its local records displayed first, followed by other UC records, followed by global WorldCat records.  The union catalog view will not preference any one campus; it will display UC libraries records followed by global WorldCat records.  

For the April release, the Request option in UC-eLinks will be used for interlibrary loan purposes, as is now the case when using licensed resources.  Until Request is improved in early fall, users will have an extra step in borrowing books.  Currently in Melvyl, users can find books in Melvyl and click directly on the Request button to get the item. In the pilot, from April to fall 2008, they will have to use Request option within UC-eLinks.  After direct access to Request is implemented in WCL, borrowing books will be easier, involving fewer steps and a better end-user experience.  The look and feel of these services may be different from the way they currently appear.

All in all, it’s good news.  The takeaway message is this: users will be able to borrow books and other items throughout the life of the pilot; in fall 2008, it’ll be easier by a step or two.  But the best news is that OCLC, after having worked with the UC libraries, is changing its strategy concerning interlibrary loan delivery.  Influencing OCLC’s research agenda was one of the goals of the UC-OCLC collaboration…mission accomplished.