Matthew Reidsma

Work Notes

Updates from the GVSU Libraries’ Web Team.
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ILLiad to MeLCat updates

A few years ago, I added a feature to ILLiad, our interlibrary load software, that searched the Michigan eLibrary catalog (MeLCat) for books that were being requested from ILL. If a MeL participating library owned the book, I’d post a nice little notice to the user to let them know they could get the book faster through MeL. (It would also be cheaper for us.) Here’s what it looked like:

Screenshot of old nice alert box

Of course, this only worked on ILL requests that were manually entered. And based on the number of ILL requests that have been rerouted to MeL manually by our ILL staff over the years, it didn’t make much difference. Basically, everyone ignored my nice message and requested the item from ILL.

  • 2016: 469 requests
  • 2017: 552 requests
  • 2018: 481 requests
  • 2019: 393 requests as of September 19th.

Amy in ILL pointed out that’s 1,895 requests since we started checking MeL holdings for ILL requests. Amy continued “if we had paid our max-cost of $20 per item by obtaining via ILL, we would have spent $37,900 on the 1,895 books we obtained via MeL, so the savings is substantial.”

Amy and Deb asked if I could revisit this solution to try to bring these numbers down, since it takes a lot of staff time and can confuse users. As a first step, I wanted to look again at ILLiad, and make this background MeL search a littlemore obvious. I also wanted to make it work on every ILL request, including those that came in through OpenURL. So I rewrote the JavaScript call, revisited the PHP script that parses the MeL website in the background, and updated the visual styles to make the modal window.

Now, if you do a loan request and MeL has the title of the item you are requesting, it brings up a more obvious message that you can get the item faster from MeL, and includes a big blue button that will take you right to the MeL search. (This works whether the search leads to a single result (the record page) or if there are multiple results (the browse titles page).)

Here’s the new alert:

Screenshot of new modal window dialog

It just went live this morning, and I’m keeping stats on each time it is activated. Hopefully we can get those ILL to MeL numbers down for the rest of the year, and next I’ll be looking at ways to improve the catalog to MeL workflow!