Student Perspective: Interlibrary Loan
In my several years as a History graduate student at Boston College, I have made countless trips to O’Neill Library. I’ve used it as my office before I had an office, as my living room when mine was hot and stuffy, and as a resource for information on a host of topics. Beyond its comforts, the stacks and the microfilm, however, I truly rely on the staff the most.
It has been my experience that when I needed something obscure, the people who can help you are those in interlibrary loan. As a student of history, I often need things that had small publication runs, such as books of statistical figures that interested only turn-of-the-century social workers. The Interlibrary Loan Department has fetched dozens of books like those for my seminar papers and my dissertation. Old books, new books, they are able to find them and have them ready for me within a few days. Typically, that small window of time has been crucial, as I had a deadline looming and desperately needed the text. On the other hand, the folks in interlibrary loan have also forgiven when I’ve forgotten to return the books they found for me. I’m afraid I am often one of those people—full of good intentions to read a book promptly and return it to the library, but in reality both overcommitted and forgetful. I have found more than one message from ILL staff on my answering machine, asking very nicely for me to return whatever the department has dug up for me.
The staff skills—tracking down other people’s dissertations, ancient newspapers, and texts that are more often in storage elsewhere than on a proper shelf—has contributed heavily to my research and allowed it to grow and change.
When one is working on a doctoral dissertation, one depends heavily on the good will, skills, and time management of others. I have certainly received those things in abundance from the staff at O’Neill Library’s Interlibrary Loan Department.
History Graduate Student