Update on EFTS Continuation

On May 22, 2019, Electronic Funds Transfer System (EFTS) users received a communication from Janice Swiatek, director of the Lyman Maynard Stowe Library at the University of Connecticut (UConn) Health Center, stating that UConn would be unable to continue operating the EFTS billing agent for DOCLINE interlibrary loan (ILL) transactions past December 31, 2019. This announcement has understandably created major concerns for the many libraries that depend on the EFTS service.

The May 22 email included a request for EFTS users to indicate their preferences for EFTS continuation. Of the approximately 400 respondents, most were willing to accept an updated fee structure, including a one-time registration fee to support the cost of developing a new platform.

The Medical Library Association (MLA), in collaboration with UConn and the National Library of Medicine (NLM), is developing upgraded technical specifications and a business model to be operated by MLA for a successor to the current EFTS. Assuming MLA can implement a high-quality, cost-effective, and sustainable solution for EFTS, the MLA Board of Directors supports this initiative to provide an essential service to the health sciences library community.

Technical upgrades under consideration for MLA’s “EFTS 2.0” focus on improving the user experience are:

  • EFTS transactions by direct upload from DOCLINE to EFTS, eliminating the need for individual libraries to manually enter their transactions into EFTS. This would reduce library administration time and improve reliability and security.
  • Expanded options for financial transactions (funds going in and out of EFTS), using the latest in financial transaction technology and security, including checks, credit cards (domestic and international), automated clearing house (ACH), and international wire transfers.

The upgraded business model aims to reduce the operating cost of EFTS so that the system would be sustainable even if ILL traffic continues to decline.

I should stress that this is still a work in progress, dependent on several variables: (1) finalization of agreements with NLM regarding data sharing and with UConn regarding the transfer of current EFTS operations and (2) agreement from the EFTS user community to fund development of the new EFTS with a modest one-time registration fee.

Should this process prove successful, MLA will communicate the terms of the new EFTS user agreement by the end of August. The goal is to ensure continuity of service for EFTS during a transition from UConn to MLA.

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