My Summer in ILL

By Elizabeth Rodriguez A&S '11

This summer I had the pleasure of working in the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) office at O'Neill Library. I should note that I have been working in the ILL office as a student worker since my freshman year. I am now a junior, and I have become fascinated with how the library works ever since starting this job because of the positive influence from the ILL staff.

I am from Wichita Falls, Texas and am a double major in Philosophy and Film Studies, so I get the popular question at dinner parties, "So what are you going to do with that?" For the longest time, I really had no idea because I knew I did not want to become a professor of philosophy and the film business is very tough to get into and is not something one can rely on for a steady salary. I have also been involved in the Organization of Latin American Affairs (I am the secretary this year) since my freshman year. I love knowledge and being able to help others attain knowledge about subjects they are normally not familiar with such as the Latino culture (how diverse it is). As a Philosophy major, I love obtaining knowledge and it has helped me to think with "the bigger picture" in mind.

While working in ILL this summer, I realized that working in the library is what I really enjoy doing because I am surrounded with thoughts that have been written down for the rest of the world to read and contemplate, as well as being surrounded by people seeking knowledge through their use of library materials for their studies, research, and own leisure. After completing my first whole summer (May to September) away from home and in a 9-5 job, I have considered pursuing a higher education in obtaining a degree in Library and Information Science.

Not only has working in ILL helped me in experience of how it feels to hold a job (9-5) or the time management needed to hold a work-study job (12 hrs/wk) but it has also made me more familiar with how to use the library to my advantage. This has come in handy especially when writing research papers and final papers. The library can be intimidating and it's easy to resort to only sources that are online, instead of searching the Quest Catalog for what the shelves may hold. Even if one looks through the catalog and finds there is nothing pertaining to the subject one wants to write about, one can become easily discouraged and try to change their topic to something the library does have scholarship on. With a little planning ahead of time, one does not have to resort to changing a topic of a paper to something that is less interesting, one can obtain materials that are related to the subject you want to write or learn more about with the help of ILL.


Elizabeth Rodriguez '11
from O'Neill ILL
Photos by Kevin Tringale

What is ILL?

What is Interlibrary Loan (ILL)? ILL is the department that makes it possible for students to obtain books, articles, DVDs, videos, CDs, microfiche, and microfilm that Boston College does not own. ILL is dedicated to obtaining the materials BC patrons (undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty) are requesting for their studies and leisure readings. These library materials can come from any library that is willing to lend their materials to BC. Our ILL department's reputation among other libraries throughout the country and around the world is very prestigious, making it possible for a BC patron to borrow a book from places like Canada, Barbados, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Israel, Ireland or England. ILL is able to have such an amazing reputation because ILL provides a lending service that is fast and efficient to other institutions seeking materials from BC Libraries' collections. In other words, ILL lends BC library items to other institutions across the country and around the world creating good relations with institutions. ILL's reputation is crucial if, for example, an institution has one of the only copies of a book you may need to finish your research paper, thesis, or dissertation. If ILL has good relations with the institution, the library will be more willing to lend their materials and allow a BC patron to use their rare material, knowing that the material will get back to the lending institution in one piece and that our ILL department would do the same for their patrons. The only way these relations can be established and function smoothly is through the hard-working and cohesive staff that works in the ILL department.

Men and Women for Others: Meet the ILL Staff

Anne Kenny is the manager of the ILL department. She oversees both the borrowing and lending side of the department and makes sure they are functioning to their full potential with efficiency, but never sacrificing the quality service ILL gives to each patron. Kenny is energetic and nurturing to both her co-workers and student workers. Kenny enjoys when BC patrons come to her office to talk about their research projects and about how ILL can help them further their studies.

Esther Duray is the lending coordinator in ILL. Duray commutes a fair distance every morning to get to work, where she never takes a break, unless it's lunch time, to make sure every request (from other libraries) that comes in is given ample attention, deciding whether or not BC is able to lend the materials requested. Duray sets a great example for the students that have worked in ILL over the years. Duray runs the lending side of ILL with the help of graduate and undergraduate student workers who pull the materials from the BC Libraries and prepare them to be shipped off across the state, country, or world.

On the borrowing side, there's Daniel Saulean and Kate Cavanaugh. Saulean is efficient and knows the policies of the library like the back of his hand. Saulean is currently finishing his degree in Library and Information Science and working at MIT in addition to ILL in O'Neill Library. Anytime I have a question about what I am supposed to do in terms of my job or the policies of the libraries in general, I ask him. He is knowledgeable and has been a great mentor to me in terms of bettering my knowledge in general, in my academics, and about what places in Boston I should make it out to before I graduate. Cavanaugh is an alumnus of Penn State where she earned her degree in Elementary Education. Cavanaugh is efficient and makes sure the student workers in the office are on the same page as the ILL staff by sending emails about meetings and answering any questions they may have about their tasks. If you have ever called the main ILL office phone, chances are that she is the one you talk to. Cavanaugh treats everyone with kindness. Cavanaugh has also acted as an unofficial mentor, because she is closer in age to me than the rest of the ILL staff and finished her undergraduate degree not too long ago. Although the latest addition to the ILL staff (starting in March 2007) she is by no means less knowledgeable about how to run the ILL office; in fact, sometimes it is the rest of the staff asking Cavanaugh what new changes have occurred in the office if there is an upgrade.


Setting the World Aflame

Although the ILL staff is comprised of individuals that bring different backgrounds and specialties to the department, all are needed for the department to function successfully. Working in ILL has taught me the importance of teamwork and how helping one another will get a job done quicker than if one individual or side of a department is expected to carry the weight of a work load. Whenever the lending side of ILL gets backed up by hundreds of requests that pour in each day, someone from the borrowing side will help so that the entire ILL department can perform well. One side of the department is not more important than the other; both are extremely important and needed for the department to function properly. The staff's work ethic reflects "men and women for others," not just among themselves but for the greater BC community and those interested in pursuing knowledge. If you are having trouble finding that book that will complete your thesis, or the best seller that you do not have time to go out and buy yourself, then come by the ILL department and they can help you find what you are looking for and help you set the world aflame.