Web Magazine for Information Professionals

REDD: Regional Electronic Document Delivery Service

Chris Taylor provides details on an Australian electronic document delivery service that is based on standard Internet protocols.

REDD is the Regional Electronic Document Delivery Service. The service began life in 1995 as a co-operative project of three libraries in Brisbane, The University of Queensland, Griffith University and Queensland University of Technology. A successful grant application was made to the Commonwealth Department of Employment, Education and Training to “develop and implement electronic technologies to enable rapid request, scanning (converting to digital images) and electronic delivery of materials via the Internet”. A demonstration version is available [1].

Essentially, the aims of the REDD project were to:

The original idea for using existing platforms and software came from Tony Barry and Steve Thomas [2]. The vision and driving force for REDD came from two programmers, Geoff Collins (Griffith University) and Kingsley Gurney (The University of Queensland) and the Project Leader, Ann Burns (The University of Queensland) [3].

The equipment required to run REDD

How REDD works

Registering Users must first register with the REDD service. To comply with Australian copyright legislation, a user must register electronically using a Web form and also send a print copy to the Library. This is a once only activity. For multi-campus/branch libraries, the user is assigned a specific branch library, to which requests are automatically forwarded. The user receives an email message with a unique “user i.d”. Users may change the details of their registration at anytime.

Requesting Once registered, users may access the Electronic Document Delivery Request Form from the Library’s home page. Each web page is customised for the specific institution, giving local information on charges (if any), turnaround times, eligibility requirements, and tips for successful delivery. There is also a section on Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

Request processing Library staff use their Web browser to access the outstanding requests. Supplying an item The email containing the request is delivered to the email directory of the supplying library. Receiving an item The two replies to the electronic request are delivered to the requesting library’s email directory.

What’s new with REDD

REDD is no longer a project, but a fully operational service. Enhancements continue to be made to the software. For release in the near future will be an option to provide virtual desktop delivery to users. This is how it will work: University of Queensland Logo The REDD team rejected the option to email files directly to users. Firstly, the legality of emailing files under Australian copyright laws, is at best, uncertain. Selecting a file from an email server usually entails taking a copy of the file. The original copy on the server is not automatically deleted. The existence of two electronic copies is a major problem. Secondly, the image files could be relatively large. This makes some network administrators extremely nervous. They argue that email was never designed to carry large attached files. If their threats to impose an upper limits on file sizes for email attachments are carried out, desktop delivery via email will hit a virtual brickwall. The methodology being implemented for REDD avoids both these problems.

Libraries using REDD

Apart from the original three institutions, other Australian libraries have joined what is called the remote partners scheme. They include the University of Southern Queensland, Australian Catholic University, Southern Cross University and the State Library of New South Wales. Enquiries continue to be received from libraries all over the world.

While the requirements of the government grant require that the software be offered to Australian libraries free of charge, the REDD software is also available to any library on a “use as is” basis. A competent network administrator should have little problem installing the software.

To receive the full benefits of REDD, both the requesting and supplying library should both be using REDD. However, a request can be sent to any library with an email address. The library’s users still get the benefit of simple requesting mechanism and the library gets the benefits of an integrated requesting mechanism.

If you are interested in hearing more about REDD, send an email to r.develop@library.uq.edu.au


  1. University of Queensland REDD Web site,
  2. Barry, Tony and Thomas, Steve (1994). Use of email to transmit scanned images between libraries,
  3. REDD: an electronic document delivery model for Australia,
  4. Win-HTTPD software by Robert Denny,
  5. O’Reilly’s Website software,

Author Details

Chris Taylor,
Manager, Information Access and Delivery Service The University of Queensland Library
email: ctaylor@library.uq.edu.au
Tel: +617 3365 6623
Address: The University of Queensland Library, St Lucia 4072, Australia