the future of libraries in the digital age
Instead of running yourself ragged trying to keep up with interlibrary delivery demands, libraries should be focusing on the ways they provide their patrons with the information they want or need while reducing ILL and interlibrary transfers. The technology exists today to pull in non-library material that is readily available online and make it discoverable through your "catalog." And I say "catalog" because I don't really mean catalog...I mean the discovery environment you provide for you patrons. The catalog describes what you've physically got on hand as well as material your library has purchased (e.g. subscription databases and ebooks). But patrons don't care who owns it. They don't care who has it now. They don't care about licenses and subscriptions! They just want "it" and, increasingly, it" is online and free.
The key is for libraries to start adding data repositories beyond their catalog into their discovery environment. For example, why shouldn't Ted Talks be searchable within your catalog? They are well-produced, authoritative videos on a broad array of topics. Every library should include them in their holdings. But they don't. OpenLibrary.org has 1.7 million books available online. Are these in every library's discovery interface. No. But this needs to change. And it is.
Get on board and start contributing to the momentum, demand, and interest in real resource-sharing. Become a contributor and a consumer of freely available web-based material. Digitize out-of-copyright books you have that no one else has. Digitize your local history collections. Catalog Ted Talks! As more and more libraries break out of that passive, catalog-centric paradigm, we'll begin to see the network effects take hold.