Quoted in its entirety from Regents University Library News, Iowa Library Association:
ILL Goes Green in an Iowa University Town
The Ames Public Library (APL), IA, and the Iowa State University (ISU) Library are only about two miles apart, but until recently they exchanged interlibrary loan (ILL) materials using the U.S. Postal Service, which required packages to be routed via Des Moines, 31 miles away. Beginning, last October, the two libraries decided to lower their carbon footprint with a local company called Bikes at Work, a bicycle delivery service that builds its own trailers.
Wayne A. Pedersen, head of acquisitions and ILL/document delivery at the ISU Library, came up with the idea. "I was aware of the company and felt we needed some changes in the way we handled our ILL service," Pedersen said. He reported that a total of 144 items-including books, CDs, and DVDs-have been borrowed by ISU from APL, with 13 borrowed by APL from ISU. While those numbers may seem modest, ISU has actually borrowed items at more than double the previous clip, while delivery speed has been cut by about a third, from 4.63 days to 3.13 days. Moreover, the cost per item is just 48 cents, while the average parcel-not always one item-last year was $2.48. ISU users can order ASU materials via ILL by going to OCLC, bypassing any ISU paperwork. Also, Pedersen noted, the courier service now has enabled APL to loan CDs and DVDs to the ISU Library. Jim Gregory of Bikes at Work explained that the contract is indeed profitable. "The libraries are only a couple of miles apart, so we can make a round trip between them quickly. Also, we happen to have a mail run from a different office on campus to the local post office that we run concurrently with the library book delivery. The post office happens to be only a block from the public library, so the two runs fit together well."
"Even without the extra mail run, however, the library book delivery would still be profitable for us," he noted. And there's one more benefit-it's that much easier for the couriers to return their own books.