Harvard Libraries Launch Scan and Deliver Service

Scan and Deliver

A screenshot from the HOLLIS catalog, which now includes the "Reqeust PDF" option as part of the Scan and Deliver service.
The recently launched service allows Harvard researchers,
students and staff to submit requests for digital scans of
excerpts from books or journal articles, which will then be
delivered via e-mail.

May 12, 2009 - With the launch of the new Scan and Deliver service, Harvard students and researchers, whether they're across town, across the country, or on the other side of the world, are now just an e-mail account away from more than 10 million items collected in Harvard libraries.
The service, created by the Harvard University Library Circulation Privileges and Inter-Library Loan Committee, and accessible through catalogs like HOLLIS or HOLLIS classic, allows faculty, students and staff to submit requests for book excerpts and journal articles. Items which are eligible for the service will include a new "Request PDF" option on search results pages. Requests made through the system are received by library staff members, who locate and scan the material. Patrons then receive an e-mail containing an Internet link to a file containing the scanned pages.

"The Scan and Deliver service makes it easier for our users to access to library materials," said Cheryl McGrath, Head and Widener Library Access Services. "It allows them to spend more time on study and research and less time at a scanner. "Ultimately, this service helps fulfill the mission of this institution, which is to provide intellectual access to materials at Harvard and beyond."

The free service will only be available to library patrons with a Harvard ID, and requests will be limited to 30 pages, one chapter from a book, or one journal article. Patrons will also be limited to two requests per day. All requests, McGrath said, will be received, scanned and responded to in four days or less.

"As with any new service, it will take a while to work out any glitches in the system," said Tom Bruno, Head of Widener Library's Interlibrary Loan Division. "Fortunately we have many talented individuals throughout the Harvard libraries who have dedicated countless hours to getting this service up and running. By the beginning of the fall term, we expect it to be running smoothly, and we plan to launch an awareness campaign then."

While it's not yet known how libraries across the University will staff the new system, McGrath believes most Harvard College Library units will largely rely on Circulation Desk staff to scan items during times when the libraries aren't busy. At Widener Library, for example, the plan is for the Interlibrary Loan (ILL,) Circulation, and Stacks divisions to collaborate to make sure items are quickly retrieved from the stacks and scanned.

"Items to be scanned will be retrieved by the Stacks Division, utilizing their expertise in navigating the Stacks," she said. "During evening hours when the Circulation Desk has periods of downtime, we'll be training student workers to scan materials.  And Widener ILL will assist HCL libraries with their scanning as needed.  By distributing the labor, we hope to manage the demand for this new service."

To train student workers and HCL staff members in the new system, Research, Teaching and Learning Services staff are creating a variety of training materials and are collaborating with Communications staff to produce a series of instructional videos which demonstrate proper scanning techniques. Staff will also be trained in preservation care and handling guidelines, to ensure all scanning that is done follows those tenets.

Associate Librarian of Harvard College for Collection Management Marilyn Wood said the new service demonstrates the College Library's commitment to continue to find new ways to provide services to patrons, despite the economic downturn.

"Harvard College Library will continue to find innovative ways to deliver our important collections to students, faculty and researchers," Wood said. "By allowing researchers access to millions of library items from virtually anywhere in the world, the new Scan and Deliver service is a critical part of that commitment."

Anyone with questions or comments on the Scan and Deliver service can send a message to scandeliver@hulmail.harvard.edu