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EFTS: Won’t you join us?

EFTS, the Electronic Fund Transfer System used to debit and credit member accounts for the cost of interlibrary loans, was started in 1996 and currently has over 1200 participants.  There are now EFTS libraries in each of the 50 states, Canada, and Mexico.  In developing the service over the past 12 years, EFTS staff has had the opportunity to listen to many librarians who have raised questions, issue and concerns regarding EFTS.  Here are some of the more frequent questions and answers:

Has the use of EFTS eliminated or reduced the work associated with overdue bill collecting?
Yes.  EFTS takes responsibility for making sure bills are paid.  Large EFTS net lenders find that staff committed to billing and collections can be utilized in other areas.

What about staff time needed to upload transactions files to EFTS?
You may be surprised at how little time it takes to create the transaction files.  Many third party ILL management programs like QuickDoc, Illiad, Clio, and DOCLINE already support the creation of EFTS files.  You may also enter the transaction data directly into the EFTS system.  Remember that only transactions for which a loaning library has charged a fee have to be uploaded.  The borrowing library doesn’t need to do anything.  Transactions can be uploaded at any time and are processed immediately.

How can a library that is part of an institution that does not allow deposit accounts join EFTS?
Sometimes, this is a matter of perspective.  A journal subscription could be considered a form of deposit account, since pre-payment is made for a product to be received in installments over time.  Questions are usually not raised about the appropriateness of library subscriptions.  Another view is that EFTS is a bill reconciliation service.  Sufficient funds are kept on account to cover the cost of a library’s ILL transactions.  In addition, income from loaned transactions often covers the cost of borrowing.

Why does EFTS charge a service fee to only the loaning library and not the borrowing library?
EFTS eliminates the need for invoicing on the part of the loaning library.  The service fee is intended to replace the cost of invoicing.  The expense of the latter includes not only producing and sending the actual invoice, but also following up on unpaid accounts.  Additional costs for getting an article, unfortunately, may be the deciding factor in some cases as to whether or not the request is ever made.  Therefore, no service charge for borrowing encourages resource sharing, which translates into more income for the loaning libraries without invoicing.

Efforts to expand our participant group are in full force, and we continue our commitment to providing the best service possible to our membership.  If your institution isn’t already a member, please consider joining EFTS, https://efts.uchc.edu.  If you have any questions, contact your regional DOCLINE coordinator, Pat Devine, at (800)338-7657, or devine@u.washington.edu.  Thanks!

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