Posts in: November, 2019

2 miles or 10,000 miles—ILL makes us one library

40th-ill-anniversary

Recently, the interlibrary loan (ILL) staff at the Loyola Notre Dame Library (LOY) tracked the locations around the world from which they borrow and lend library materials. The exercise was prompted by a student who, after being shown ILL by staff members Kate Strain and Zach Gahs-Buccheri, asked, “What’s the farthest library that you’ve gotten an item from?”

Turns out the answer was the Dalton McCaughey Library at the University of Melbourne in Australia, which is 10,038 miles from LOY in Baltimore, Maryland, US.

What a great example of how ILL makes us one big library with endless shelves. No library can possibly have on hand every item it needs. For that we rely on the resource sharing communities we build. In fact, some libraries keep things in their collections to circulate primarily via ILL rather than locally. That’s the commitment they have to sharing resources.

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Public libraries generate social capital that can save lives

Chris Cyr, Ph.D.

social_capital

When disaster strikes, libraries are there to help. In California, where many have been forced from their homes due to forest fires and power outages, libraries like Folsom Public Library have become a refuge for people who need to charge devices, use WiFi, or just have a place to go. In March of 2011, a powerful earthquake triggered enormous tsunami waves in the Tōhoku region of Japan, killing thousands of people, driving hundreds of thousands from their homes, and leaving millions without electricity and water service. In the months after this horrific disaster, as hundreds of government services, NGOs, and private and international relief agencies struggled to help communities recover, residents also looked to public libraries for help.

Why is that? Libraries don’t provide food, water, electricity, or medical services. In many cases, libraries had suffered the same catastrophic losses as their neighbors; staff had perished or been injured, buildings completely destroyed or unusable, resources gutted. Why, then, did people so quickly turn to libraries after a disaster? Because of social capital.

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