ATG Article of the Week: When You Need That One and Only Book

When You Need That One and Only Book is an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education that pays tribute to the tireless efforts of interlibrary loan managers by highlighting the work of Megan Gaffney, who manages interlibrary loans at the U. of Delaware.

The article bytarts an example: “A doctoral candidate has been working on her thesis for months. She finds a book that might help her connect two lines of thought, but there’s a problem: It’s only housed in one small library — in Estonia.

And then notes “that’s where the interlibrary-loan manager comes in. It’s something akin to being a detective, or perhaps a particularly unappreciated sidekick. As many of the interlibrary-loan managers who spoke to The Chronicle said, no library has everything.

The job of an interlibrary-loan manager is to facilitate the exchange of books, articles, and journals among colleges. The utility flies in the face of conventional wisdom: that soon everything will be online, and there will be no need for the exchange of physical copies. “We’re finding just the opposite,” said Megan R. Gaffney, the associate librarian in charge of interlibrary loans for the University of Delaware. Though she has seen a downward trend in articles and journals requested, she said, “more and more users are requesting that we borrow books…”

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