February 3, 1998 Library of Congress to Accept IFLA Vouchers for International Loans

Press Contact: Guy Lamolinara, Library of Congress (202) 707-9217

The Library of Congress, the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) and OCLC Inc. will begin a pilot project to develop an electronic reimbursement system for international interlibrary loans.

The project will explore ways to use OCLC's Interlibrary-loan Fee Management (IFM) system to manage reimbursements now made with plastic vouchers mailed with loan requests. These vouchers are issued by the IFLA Office for Universal Availability of Publications (UAP) and must be transferred physically from one institution to another. The pilot will substitute electronic accounting for physical vouchers through use of credits in the OCLC fee-management system.

The project is the result of discussions held at the 5th International Interlending Conference in Aarhus, Denmark, among representatives of the Library of Congress, OCLC and IFLA and other interested institutions. The discussions covered various objections by lenders to handling physical vouchers in an age of electronic requests. The Library suspended its foreign lending service for budgetary reasons in 1993. It resumed lending in a limited way in 1996 to a few foreign institutions, primarily those that could make requests via OCLC and reimburse using credits in the OCLC fee-management system.

The IFLA voucher scheme is based on a reusable plastic voucher, originally intended to represent a standard reimbursement for one loan or photocopy transaction. Libraries purchase vouchers from the IFLA UAP office at a set rate of U.S. $8 each. The requesting library encloses one or more vouchers with an interlibrary loan request sent to another country. The supplying library accepts the vouchers in return for a completed transaction and retains them for its own use in borrowing from abroad. Libraries that supply more items than they request can redeem their excess vouchers with the UAP office at their purchase value of U.S. $8 each. The plastic vouchers can be reused until redeemed.

The Library of Congress's Loan Division has agreed to accept the vouchers in return for both interlibrary loans and photocopies made in lieu of loan. Under the pilot, the Library will periodically return accumulated vouchers to the UAP office, where they will be exchanged for credit in the OCLC system.


PR 98-004
ISSN 0731-3527