I just requested a graphic novel through our university library’s interlibrary loan (ILL) process, and that got me to thinking. I am not sure how widely known interlibrary loan is outside the university world. Interlibrary loan means the libraries of the world are my shelves.
Ok, so the entire collection of books and media held at libraries around the world is not LITERALLY on my shelf, but in some ways it is. Think of those times when researching for a game you are developing, trying to add depth to an RPG campaign you are building, or seeking references for a book you are writing. There is likely a book or media you could really use but don’t own. Do you go out and buy it? What if you don’t have the funds? What if you don’t think you will need it after this project? What if it is out of print and you cannot find it for sale? Public and university libraries are great places to find those sources, but even they do not have everything on their shelves. That is where interlibrary loan comes in. The American Library Association states
As defined by the Interlibrary Loan Code for the United States (see sidebar), “Interlibrary loan is the process by which a library requests material from, or supplies material to, another library. … The purpose of interlibrary loan as defined by this code is to obtain, upon request of a library user, material not available in the user’s local library.
That’s right. You can request books and media from other libraries to be sent to your university or public library for you to reference and enjoy. If you have not used interlibrary loan (often short handed to ILL) before, I highly encourage you to ask your local librarian if your library offers the service. It is wonderful for ordering books and media for short term reference or to check something out before you purchase your own copy.
I request books and media in bursts of inspiration for some new rpg campaign idea, creative projects I want to tackle, research topics interest, or just for entertainment to read a series of books I haven’t and don’t care to own. Some examples to help you see the potential of ILL for you.
- I read every James Bond novel by Ian Fleming via ILL.
- I watch quite a few anime and international films via ILL.
- When prepping to run a Legend of the Five Rings RPG campaign, I acquired via ILL lots of books and movies on Japanese history and culture to add authenticity to my campaign.
- While preparing to teach the Game Studies course the first time, I ordered numerous textbooks and game studies-related books via ILL to help design and develop the course and finalize our choice of a textbook.
- A few years ago when I was getting into gardening and had limited space, I requested ILL books on square foot gardening, backyard gardening, patio gardening, and herb gardening.
Those are just some of the ways interlibrary loan has helped me. I highly encourage you to use ILL as a way to expand your library.