Often times as a student you are looking for various books for classes and sometimes for personal use…Not all books are ideal for purchasing either because of price or need…also, if you are a researcher you may be specifically be looking for some articles from reference books, old news papers, journals, etc…you may look up the library catalog and if you cannot find the book…you tend to give up on the library, the reality is…you have Inter Library Loan(ILL)department in US universities Libraries..Let me share my thoughts on this. Fortunately, I worked in ILL department during my masters, I know full details 🙂 Also, you may read How Public Libraries work in America ?
What are Inter Library Loan Departments in US Universities ?
Most of the schools’ libraries in America have collaboration with other libraries in US and other countries to exchange books and articles among libraries. Precisely, if your school library does not have a book that you want, they can request the same book from other University in US or even other country…In my experience working at ILL, we have shipped books and articles to few European countries and Latin American Countries…Anyways, once your school’s ILL department requests the book, the other University may send the book within few days or couple weeks… You can request books, article, Audio CDs, videos, etc. You cannot request reference book, but you can request for specific articles or pages to be sent. They will scan and send the pages… ( here is my rant, I used to scan a lot of reference books for article requests, it was so frustrating to look up the books and articles, especially micro-films, which have old news papers stored on them…..I used to think, why the hell do they want so and so pages…of course, it was my job…so couldn’t complain much at that time…)
How does it work ? How to request books from ILL ?
All you have to do is, go to your library in person and request in ILL office or go to your school’s library website and look for ILL department web pages or book request page and fill the related form….Once you submit the request, they will take care of it and request it for you and inform you once you have it…The trick is, you usually can keep the loaned book only for few weeks and may have to send it back to them…So, be aware on how you plan your time with classes and exams (if it is a semester text book)
Honestly, not many students(unless researcher) realize there is something called ILL Dept in their libraries and you can request anything…
Do you know of any other other hidden services offered by libraries ?
Image credit : http://www.shepherd.edu/libweb/services/ill/interlibraryloan2.gif