Request Failures

One of several minor obstacles may inhibit, discourage or restrict access to Columbia University Libraries collections at ReCAP.  This is no surprise to those familiar with the details and vagaries of large-scale systems.  This webpage describes one facet: request failures

Request failure means that both

  1. a user requested an item from ReCAP via CLIO or one of CUL's request mechanisms and
  2. a failure notice was generated and sent to recaperrors@libraries.cul.columbia.edu.  Core staff are included in this alias; ReCAP Coordinator is responsible for resolving and troubleshooting.

There are many reasons a failure notice may be sent.  Few request failures result in denied access.  Most request failures can be easily diagnosed and quickly resolved by staff.

In some cases, a pattern of request failures led to a systematic fix.  Other cases are endemic to both the capacity for human error and CUL's request systems.

In July 2008, the ReCAP Coordinator gave a presentation on Failed ReCAP Requests to the Access Services Coordinating Committee.  In that presentation "failure" was defined more broadly, involving all barriers to access.  Data was collected over a six-month period to analyze failure notices.  Request failure notices were 150 times more likely to be sent for an EDD request than physical delivery.  More than 80% of physical delivery notices were sent to CUL staff requesters.  More than half of the EDD failures were due to citation errors and 40% due to physical condition.

Below is a short guide for identification and a list of links to information about the most prominent types, including solutions.  Some are obsolete but may inform future projects.

Failure Types

Quick Diagnosis Guide

Resolving request failures may require checking several pieces of information: failure notice, current LAS status and failure log. 

Every failure notice includes a statement about why a request failed, barcode number, bibliographic information and patron information.  Each of these pieces help staff identify the type of request failure and pursue an effective resolution.

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