Monday, February 22, 2010

Perils of Interlibrary Loan

My campus library is small and much of the collection is old. I have ordered new books which seem appropriate and necessary, but the library's budget is also small, so I have tried not to be too demanding on that score. In particular, I have tended to order things that I think will be useful for students, and have generally not ordered things that apply only, or primarily, to my research. This has put me often at the mercy of interlibrary loan services.

The ILL service has been fine in that it gets me the materials I want. The major problem is that I don't get them for very long. In the fall I ambitiously ordered six or eight books at once, then couldn't get to them immediately, and one by one they all went overdue, and my ILL privileges were revoked until I finally returned all the books.

Most recently I ordered just one book, which proved to be so dauntingly large that I put off looking at it for a few days. This was, of course, counterproductive, especially since once I started going through the book, I found it to be not only thick but dense; every chapter is full of ideas and information and requires some thought to grapple with. It has not lent itself well to skimming. The book is now overdue and I'm only a small portion of the way through it... sigh.

6 comments:

Steve Muhlberger said...

I feel for you!

Notorious Ph.D. said...

This sounds like *exactly* my situation at Grit City U. Have discovered that some (though not all) ILL books can be renewed. But the best thing is to browse, return, then make a priority list, ordering well in advance of when you need them.

And use the scanner!

(One note: I *did* make my library order a copy of the Corpus Iuris Canonici and the index to it. 3 vols, several hundred dollars, and I'm certain I'm the only one who's ever used it. But I use it A LOT.)

tenthmedieval said...

I know what you mean here. I tend these days to put a renewal request in as soon as something arrives on ILL, hoping that that way I'll hold off the recall until I've at least got to grips with what I absolutely have to read...

My impression is that US ILL is fairly swift; is that true? It usually takes between four to six months to get something where I am, usually because it's had to come from Spain.c

clio's disciple said...

My ILL service is indeed swift, because most of the books are coming from other libraries in the region. On the downside, when I need something genuinely obscure, the ILL here often can't find it at all.

The current book is Horden & Purcell's Corrupting Sea, which is a bit of a behemoth. I will resort to scanning sections before I give it back, but even then I'm just scratching the surface.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

If you're in Cali sometime, I could loan you my copy. If you're going to teach Mediterranean, it's a good one to have on your shelf, even if the price is a bit hefty.

clio's disciple said...

I'm sure I'll buy it sometime. I'll see if it's available discounted at K'zoo.