Years ago librarians had the monopoly on providing access to information for teaching, learning and research. With developments in information and communication technology, the internet and the rise of the network society, information is more freely available today and information consumers are not necessarily library users anymore. Yet, information needs of researchers and students at academic libraries did not become less, in fact, it became more sophisticated. Decreasing collection development budgets and limited resources put even more pressure on libraries to effectively and efficiently address these dynamic information needs of users. In order to adapt to all these challenges, the traditional role of librarians as custodians of owned information resources evolved into new opportunities for facilitating access to the information universe. Centrally to this re-envisioned landscape, is the interlibrary loans department, which has become one of the most valuable assets in directing library support services.
This presentation will address current trends in the research and academic library environment, with special emphasis on the role and importance of interlibrary loans in providing information need support services. Based on a case study at the Jotello F Soga Library at the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, the importance of collaboration as well as national and international networks will be highlighted. Quantitative and qualitative evidence will be provided to demonstrate how interlibrary loans contribute to a high standard of service delivery to researchers and other users. It will conclude with a brief discussion on the authors’ opinions on the impact of future directions in the research and academic library environments with special reference to the role and functions of interlibrary loans and how it will influence information need support in future.