Cathy De Rosa, Lorcan Dempsey and Alane Wilson tell us that library users prefer to do things on their own (Environmental Scan, Social Landscape section, 3).
Studies have shown that the more unmediated a service is, the more popular it is. Libraries everywhere report increases in circulation after self-check is rolled out. ILL is more likely to be used when it can be initiated without talking to a human being and remote borrowing has also been shown to increase circulation.
With libraries, there is a “transaction cost” for each step of the processes involved in finding, requesting and actually taking possession of an item. These costs are measured in time, attention, money and expertise. The first transaction cost involves locating the item in the OPAC. If the user is able to find the desired item in the OPAC, she/he must then locate the item to determine how best to acquire it. Is it on the shelf? Can I put it on hold? Can I borrow it from another library? Do I need to put in an interlibrary loan request? Each of these steps may require additional authentication or search steps. These transaction costs inhibit use.