May 25, 2022

New Research Article: “Impact of a Discovery System on Interlibrary Loan”

The following approved for publication (a preprint) is scheduled for final publication in the September 1, 2016 issue of College and Research Libraries (C&RL).


Impact of a Discovery System on Interlibrary Loan


Linda R. Musser
Pennsylvania State University

Barbara M. Coopey
Pennsylvania State University


via C&RL Website


Web-scale discovery services such as Summon (Serial Solutions), WorldCat Local (OCLC), EDS (EBSCO), and Primo (Ex Libris) are often touted as a single search solution to connect users to library owned and licensed content, improving discoverability and retrieval of resources.Assessing how well these systems achieve this goal can be challenging, however.

This article describes the use of interlibrary loan borrowing request data as a means to evaluate whether the Summon discovery system was achieving its goal of improving retrieval. Four years following implementation of the discovery system, there was a 22% decrease in interlibrary loan borrowing requests. Requests by undergraduates dropped at a higher rate than faculty, staff and graduate students. Undergraduate requests for articles dropped more than requests for loans.

Two years post implementation of the discovery system, the number of interlibrary loan borrowing requests by undergraduates for locally owned or licensed materials dropped by 57%, freeing up interlibrary loan staff to expand services into new areas. This study indicates that implementation of a discovery system can lead to a reduction in interlibrary loan borrowing.

Direct to Full Text Article (24 pages; PDF; Preprint)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.