FulfILLment is an open source project designed to link library catalogs in order to facilitate direct patron request of materials for Inter Library Loan. It provides library users seamless access to materials owned by libraries using FulfILLment—no matter which integrated library system his or her library uses.
Conventional wisdom says that ILL is conceptually distinct from circulation. The problem of automated ILL has thus far been addressed mainly through the use of union catalogs. This eases the search and discovery portion of ILL, assuming that the union catalog is up to date, but many union-catalog based systems do not address automated mediation well, if at all. In fact, many systems are little more than cross-lending agreements on paper that require full staff mediation. The reasons for this are clear if you consider that traditional ILL has little or no a priori knowledge of item or patron status and little or no surrounding context for the ILL request. This leads to complicated data gathering, retention, aggregation and reporting.
However this conceptual distinction between ILL and circulation is not necessary given the proper circumstances. Consider having complete global state knowledge, complete context of hold requests, and implementation based on “best and most appropriate” protocols. This is what all circulation systems already have… why not apply that perspective to ILL?
FulfILLment brings the benefits of a circulation and hold system based on the core algorithms in Evergreen to the ILL problem space. By encouraging and facilitating the participating institutions to collect and enter all relevant information about ILL policy and system definition, FulfILLment can provide not only truly automated mediation of ILL request (holds) but also full ILL transaction (circulation) management and automated transit management.