The Wonderful World of Interlibrary Loan

Over at Boing Boing, Cory Doctorow sings the praises of interlibrary loan:

Denizens of BushcraftUK discuss Willie Sundqvist's "Swedish Carving Techniques," a rare tome that goes for £100 and more. Then one of them has the bright idea of asking his local library to get one through Interlibrary Loan, the original P2P file-sharing network, and shortly thereafter, he gets a copy to read, courtesy of the Seattle Public Library. Go libraries!

What is he talking about? In the United States, interlibrary loan is a program in which different library systems across the country loan items to each other upon patron request, usually at no additional charge.

Sometimes my patrons' eyes bug out when I introduce them about this service--which is a wonderful experience. I've used it myself to order everything from dissertations to obscure pocket manga.

Practically speaking, if you want almost any book and are willing to wait a few weeks, you can get it. And that's totally neatorama.

Link | Photo by Nancy Sims

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ILL is fantastic!

I would like to add something, though: while there usually isn't a charge to the patron, please understand that there are expenses associated with this service. If you use ILL through your local library and it is free to you, you might want to consider making a donation. :)
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Here in Indiana, several smaller public libraries around the state have formed a network called Evergreen. Patrons can request books from any of the participating libraries (or get them in person), and generally receive them within about 10 days. The libraries won't send DVDs or CDs, but I think if you happen to be at another participating library, you can check out the DVD/CD/BlueRay and then return it to your home library. Anyways, its wonderful! I assume other states have something similar, but maybe not. It probably works well in Indiana partly because Indiana is such a small state geographically.
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