The moral obligation for interlibrary lending

Bamkin, Marianne (2020) The moral obligation for interlibrary lending. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science. ISSN 1741-6477

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A philosophical dilemma has arisen for librarians in this interconnected age: whether a library has a moral obligation to lend resources to another library. This discussion article examines a range of literature about interlibrary lending (interlending) and gives an account of librarians’ perceptions of this quandary. The literature covers the guidelines on interlending set out by library professional bodies and a historical view of interlending, as well as more recent perceptions from librarians quoted in reports. In order to explore the concept in more detail, taking a qualitative approach, a small questionnaire was circulated online to a cross section of libraries in the Midlands region of the UK. The opinions of 11 self-selected participants were forthcoming, working in a range of academic, public and community-led libraries. The data gathered was thematically categorised to identify the range of perceptions. The views expressed in the questionnaire echoed those identified in the literature, forming three groups of moral attitude: no moral obligation; an obligation if it does not outweigh the costs; and a strong moral imperative to share resources. The participants identified the benefits of interlibrary lending and generally acknowledged that resource-sharing was important. The importance of good customer service was highlighted, as well as the imperative of supporting the ongoing operation of their library service. Taking these perceptions into consideration, it was concluded that the question ‘Is there a moral obligation for one library to lend to another?’ is not the right one to ask. The moral duty of a librarian is that access to information is maintained and resources are shared for the good of society as a whole.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: ** From Crossref via Jisc Publications Router ** History: epub 13-07-2020; issued 13-07-2020.
Identification Number:
1 July 2020Accepted
13 July 2020Published
Uncontrolled Keywords: Interlending, interlibrary lending, morality, information, librarian
Subjects: CAH24 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01-01 - information services
Divisions: Research, Innovation, Enterprise and Professional Services
SWORD Depositor: JISC PubRouter
Depositing User: JISC PubRouter
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2020 09:10
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2022 16:50

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