This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, August 30, 1995

August 30, 1995 - zap

Things are hopping in the area of Interlibrary Loan (abbreviated by librarians as "ILL").

Ideally, public libraries have just the book (or article, or tape) that you're looking for. Sometimes, of course, we don't. On those occasions, we have developed various procedures to try to find another library that does, and would be willing to lend it to our patrons.

Nearly every public (and academic) library in America is part of this network. Most of the time, ILL is free to the patron -- although sometimes a library will charge a small shipping fee.

But until recently, much of this process to locate another library that owns the book, that has it on the shelf, and can send it swiftly has required a lot of tedious paperwork.

That's about to change.

Were very pleased to announce our participation in a program called ZAP. In essence, ZAP is a patron-directed interlibrary loan request system. It works like this.

You've looked in our computer catalog and can't find what you were looking for.

Then you go to our Other libraries menu. From there you search the catalogs of a few metro areas you don't mind driving to -- the Arapahoe Library District, or Aurora, or Denver, for instance.

But let's say either that you don't want to drive up for the item, or you weren't fortunate enough to locate it.

In that case, you choose the ZAP option, also located on our Other Libraries screen. Immediately, you'll get a screen that tells you how to connect: touch the "C" key, press Enter, and when you see a login: prompt, type "dpld" (without the quotes, but in lower case letters) then press Enter again.

Now you'll be prompted for your Douglas Public Library District card number. Here's a little secret. You don't have to type in the whole thing, just the significant digits -- the numbers appearing after "2 3025 000."

Now the ZAP computer will see if it has a record for you. If you haven't used the system before, ZAP will prompt you through a series of questions: your name, address, phone numbers, which library you want to have things sent to, and so on. At the end, you'll get a chance to review this data. YOU ONLY HAVE TO DO THIS ONCE -- the next time you type in your library card, the system will just quickly display your information, and ask if it's still correct.

But what happens next?

Now you get a menu that's about as straightforward as these things get. You can do one of three things:

* Request an Item (and be prompted to fill out another form, with as much information as you may have about a topic).

* Examine some Frequently Asked Questions about ILL services.

* Type X to exit the program (come back to the DPLD screens).

After you fill out your request, it will be routed through the Internet to Patty Mathisen, our Interlibrary Loan Assistant. She in turn, will route it to other libraries, through various other electronic means.

So what's the advantage of all this to you? If you still want to fill out little blue forms, you can. But for those of you who dial in to the computer from home, this means you'll have access to Interlibrary Loan 24 hours a day.

About a year ago, I did a survey about trends in public library services. ZAP is a perfect match for one of them: the trend of self-service. Some people -- although not ALL people -- prefer to do for themselves. With ZAP, they can.

Give it a try, and let us know how if it's a good fit for the way YOU would like to use the library.

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