If you worked for a legal firm or a business that required articles from biomedical journals not available locally, where would you turn? For a number of institutions across the country, the answer is The Lamar Soutter Library at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. The Library serves hundreds of patrons, representing the biomedical, educational, legal, and business fields, who have never set foot on our campus.
"Document Delivery" refers to the supplying of an article to a person or institution outside of the library's usual patron base. At The Lamar Soutter Library, Document Delivery is truly a booming business. Statistics from the Boston Library Consortium (BLC), which includes Boston College, Boston Public Library (BPL), Boston University, Brown University, MIT, Northeastern University, Tufts University, Wellesley College, and the five UMass campuses, indicate that during the 1996 fiscal year The Lamar Soutter Library filled well over 26,000 requests for library materials to outside patrons. In terms of sheer volume, this figure places the Library second only to BPL among BLC institutions. This year, the Library may receive over 30,000 requests.
The "flip side" of Document Delivery is Interlibrary Borrowing-receiving on loan from another library a book or article that is not held in our collection. This is the service with which the library's in-house patrons are undoubtedly most familiar. Frustrating as it may be to find that the Library doesn't carry a journal, it is reassuring to know that the Interlibrary Borrowing office is able to fill well over ninety percent of the requests it receives.
Another measure of a library's effectiveness at Document Delivery is the lending-to-borrowing ratio. This figure is the ratio of journal articles from our collection supplied to outside patrons (lending) to the number of articles and books not in our collection supplied to our patrons from other libraries (borrowing). In this category, The Lamar Soutter Library is consistently in the top spot in the BLC, an indication of the strength of the Library's collection in biomedical research.
Requests for documents are received in the library by fax or mail from patrons all over the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and as far away as Belarus and Poland. Outside inquiries are handled by John Hemenway and Spiro Efstathiou. Requests from in-house patrons are processed by Karen Cangello and Nancy Boucher. Together, these four staff members have many years' experience supplying books and articles to patrons, whether on or off campus.