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EFTS: the online billing system for interlibrary loan (ILL)

Sign up for EFTS*

*Request a user agreement for your review and signature. One request per LIBID.

EFTS Announcements

EFTS Custom Pricing Groups Now Launched


EFTS Unbilled Transactions Announcement


EFTS Successes and Growing Pains


Significant Changes to EFTS and DOCLINE after June 30, 2020


EFTS Update: February 27, 2020


General Information

Last updated December 1, 2020

The Electronic Fund Transfer System (EFTS ) is the online billing system for interlibrary loan (ILL) transactions that collects an ILL charge from a borrowing library, on behalf of the lending library, and pays it to the lender, less a transaction fee.

  • Participating libraries are able to exchange funds for the payment of ILLs instead of creating their own invoices and writing checks to each other.
  • EFTS only processes the financial component of ILL transactions between a borrower and a lender, using ILL transaction information provided to EFTS by the lender.
  • The National Library of Medicine (NLM) DOCLINE platform is the preferred service to match a lender with a borrower.
  • The fulfillment of the ILL by the lender is managed outside of EFTS and DOCLINE, by the lender.

MLA launched the EFTS, powered by MLA, platform in 2020, and took over EFTS operations from the University of Connecticut Health Center (UCHC). UCHC collaborated with NLM to introduce the first version of EFTS in 1996.

Link to EFTS platform

Link to EFTS Training Webinar (Dec 17, 2020)

Current EFTS users: 867

To Sign Up

  • There is a US $275 activation fee for each account (one per LIBID) signing up for the new EFTS platform.
  • Downloadable version of the User Agreement (pdf) (docx). Please note that MLA will not accept changes to the EFTS User Agreement. MLA will consider signing a vendor agreement in addition to the EFTS User Agreement, to address the specific requirements of a library.
  • Contact EFTS for more information and to sign up.

Features and Enhancements

For a detail description of features, please consult the EFTS Configuration Guide.

User roles

Each library can assign multiple individuals as EFTS managers to access a library account. Those individuals can upload ILL lending transactions, access dashboards and reports, and generally administer the daily operations of EFTS.

One individual may have access to multiple libraries as an EFTS manager.

Each library designates an individual responsible for financial operations. This individual has access to the library’s Bill.com account, which is used as the financial gateway for EFTS.

One individual may be the one responsible for the financial operations of multiple libraries. Those all appear in one single Bill.com dashboard.

EFTS fund account

Each library has money in its own EFTS fund account held by MLA on its behalf. Your library’s fund account receives money transferred by your library or earned by lending transactions and is used to pay out money owed as a result of borrowing transactions or fees assessed by EFTS. Libraries with a positive fund account balance may transfer money out of their EFTS fund account.

Fund accounts and transactions are in US dollars only.

External fund transactions that work for everyone

We are making it simple for you to transfer money between your library and your EFTS fund account.

For payments from your library to your library’s EFTS fund account, you have the following options:

  • Check in US dollars (note that we are discouraging the use of checks because of the disruptions resulting from COVID-19)
  • Automated or manual electronic transfers (eCheck or automated clearing house [ACH]) by secure connection in US dollars
  • Credit card payment (Visa, MC, AmEx) in US dollars or non-US dollars (subject to bank currency conversion fees).

EFTS adds a 3% credit card processing fee for any payment made by credit card to offset credit card processing charges (to avoid this charge, send a check, or better yet, send an eTransfer).

For payments from your library’s EFTS fund account to your library, you have the following options

  • Check in US dollars sent to your library
  • ACH eTransfer secure connection in USDAutomated or manual electronic transfers (eCheck or ACH) by secure connection in US dollars
  • International wire transfer in US dollars or non-US dollars (subject to bank currency conversion fees and transfer fees)

Transfers from your library’s EFTS fund account to your library are processed quarterly. Those are triggered by rules configured by your EFTS manager.

EFTS uses Bill.com as the secure gateway for financial transactions. Bill.com is a “gold standard” for optimal user experience and high-level of security and internal controls, including payment card industry (PCI) compliance.

What is new:

  • You are in control, with no need to contact EFTS administrative staff (we will be available for support).
  • MLA holds no financial account information (e.g., credit card number, bank account number is securely held by Bill.com if you opt to save it).
  • You receive your notices for payment automatically, and let Bill.com walk you through the payment process (no more calling or faxing credit card information). You can still pay by check.
  • You can securely connect your bank account and save your credit card information, or not. Use checks (in US dollars) if that works best.
  • American Express is accepted. All payments by credit card are charged a 3% processing fee to cover the bank charge (unfortunately, that is new)

Flexible account configuration

In the default Wallet configuration:

  • You load funds into your library’s EFTS Wallet by check, credit card, or eTransfer via the payment of an invoice sent by EFTS. The triggers, frequency, and amount of Wallet reloads are configurable by the manager, including manual reloads.
  • ILL transaction costs incurred by library through your borrowing activities are automatically deducted from the Wallet balance.
  • You agree to maintain a positive Wallet balance at all times.

The ILL Transaction configuration is available to libraries that are not allowed to carry a fund balance and that have been approved by MLA for this configuration. In the ILL Transaction configuration:

  • Borrowers receive a monthly EFTS invoice for their borrowing transactions. Payment is expected within thirty days, unless a longer payment period has been agreed to.
  • Lenders receive payment for their lending transactions every quarter.

What is new:

  • The ILL Transaction configuration is designed for those libraries that are not allowed to (or do not want to) hold a balance outside of their institution.

Let DOCLINE and EFTS do the heavy lifting for entering ILL transactions (NEW)

NLM and MLA have collaborated to connect DOCLINE and EFTS via application programming interface (API):

  • All of your lending and borrowing DOCLINE transactions appear in your account the following day.
  • EFTS computes the transaction price based on the pricing tables set by lenders and the library group information provided by DOCLINE.
  • Lending libraries can modify (e.g., price) and approve transactions for billing, without the need to enter them manually or upload a file created by a third party ILL management program (e.g., QuickDOC, ILLiad, Clio). Note: lending library can continue to upload files if they choose to.

More information about pricing grids and library groups:

  • Lending libraries input and regularly update their library’s ILL pricing grids with fields that reflect the standard DOCLINE fulfillment fields.
  • Each library has a default ILL pricing grid. Lending libraries can create additional ILL pricing grids and attach the LIBID of specific libraries to each ILL pricing grid in order to accommodate preferential library consortium pricing.
  • The ILL transaction price will be calculated price based on the fulfillment features and lender’s pricing grids, not to exceed the maximum price specified by the borrower in their DOCLINE request.

Regardless of the configuration, lenders can review, adjust if necessary, and confirm their transactions before they are charged to the borrower(s). EFTS also allows lenders to credit transactions previously invoiced.

Useful dashboard, reporting, and notifications

You can view your library’s EFTS balances, transactions, and required action list through a combination of a dashboard and downloadable reports. You are notified via email when there is a required action item (e.g., validating transactions).

Fees

To sustain EFTS operations, MLA charges an account activation fee for all users, increase the transaction fee charged to lenders, and add a credit card transaction fee for libraries who use them.

As a borrower, if you pay by check or electronic transfer, nothing changes.

  • MLA-EFTS Library Account Activation Fee: US $275 (one-time)
  • ILL Transaction Fee: 10% of charged amount to borrower, paid by the lender when payment is received by the lender (was 6%)
  • Credit Card Processing Fee: 3% (was 0), only applicable after the launch of the new platform

Frequently Asked Questions

Why did UCHC cease EFTS operations?

The EFTS platform was developed more than twenty years on older technology that does not meet today’s security and operational requirements.

The volume of ILL transactions processed by EFTS has dropped by half in the last 10 years, resulting in insufficient revenues to support the UCHC administrative costs. UCHC estimates that it would need to invest US $200,000 to reprogram the platform.

Why did MLA take over EFTS operations?

MLA and its chapters have a long history of being a financial clearinghouse for ILL transactions. Many of you may recall purchasing and redeeming coupons. EFTS is an essential service to many libraries and fits in MLA’s mission. For many smaller libraries, EFTS is the only affordable solution.

We determined that MLA has the expertise to develop a new platform that could provide enhanced service, use the latest technologies, and be sustainable at a lower ILL transaction volume. We are achieving this by adopting the latest technology, reducing administrative time, increasing transaction fees from 6% to 10% (that corresponds to a 4.3% reduction in margin for the borrower), and “crowdfunding” the development costs.

We aim to make the EFTS platform sustainable at a 50% decrease in transaction volume.

Who can sign up for the new EFTS?

US and non-US libraries in good standing, with an active DOCLINE account and associated DOCLINE identification (LIBID).

There is NO requirement to be an MLA member. There is NO requirement to be a current EFTS library.

How and when can my library sign up for the new EFTS?

You can request that we send you an electronic user agreement. You will have the option to:

  • Forward the agreement to the authorized signer
  • Sign the agreement electronically
  • Print, manually sign, scan, and upload the signed agreement