Three cures for the “Humdrum ILL Blues”


A few years ago, two colleagues and I co-led the popular workshop, “Keep the ILL Motivational Fires Burning!” at the Midwest ILL Conference. The point was to openly acknowledge that—like many jobs—resource sharing librarianship can become routine and draining. We tried to answer the question: how can you do a job with many necessary, detailed, repetitious job functions while still maintaining energy, enthusiasm, and drive?

While everyone’s answer is going to be slightly different, I think we uncovered a few ways that might help you maintain your LOVE for a job that many of us got into in the first place because of a passion for helping library users.

Details drive enthusiasm

To stay passionate, I need to do more than simply post inspirational quotes. I need to find ways to reconnect to my job in satisfying ways. In my case, I found three ways to improve my attitude to keep doing what I needed to do.

  1. Insert joy. I love to learn … ILL regularly brings an eclectic grouping of articles and books across my path that I enjoy skimming. I get a natural high by filling a quirky ILL request whose citation was incorrect. (I fulfilled 100+ such requests last year!) When I fill a request near the end of a lending string, I celebrate by inserting an arrow, a smiley face, and an exclamation mark above our UIW symbol.
  1. Remember the “why.” Being an ILL librarian isn’t just a job, it’s a calling. We do what we do for a reason. Adding reminders of that fact to my work area helps keep me inspired. For example, framing my work space with thank-you notes from other libraries reminds me that my job is appreciated. My ‘warm fuzzy’ e-file (and separate physical folder) house affirming interactions from others, which I review on ‘cold prickly’ days. Even the reflective process of creating a curriculum vitae was an empowering self-affirmation of my life’s journey.
  1. Personalize the process. I am happier with color in my work life, so I intentionally write with a variety of colored pens and use colored scratch paper for ILL book band expanders. I delight in holding a three-year record of sharing more ILL items than any other Iowa private college/university. I am a visual person who smiles every time I glimpse a family picture collage hanging by my work desk. After completing the final ILL request of a work shift, I enjoy an imaginary vision of myself as Rocky reaching the championship round to a roaring, applauding crowd.

Discovering your own three things

A lot of the research I did after our conference workshop centered around understanding personal motivators—that’s how I got to my three ideas shared above. You’ll need to do some of your own reading and searching to find what works for you. The good news is, there’s plenty of material to get you started, and our workshop takeaways are a great place to begin:

  • Find alternatives that free you up to proactively refocus vision and attitude.
  • Make a list of what energizes you and act on it regularly.
  • Change up your motivators to keep them fresh and actively working for you.

Remember: the very nature of ILL is that we are stronger together. Partner with someone else to share your ideas as you nurture your drive.

I’d love to hear what you’re doing to keep your daily ILL routine more meaningful for yourself and for others! USE the hashtag “#OCLCnext” to share your ideas on Twitter.

Registration open for 2018 OCLC Resource Sharing Conference

OCLC invites all ILL professionals to Jacksonville, Florida, USA, to share the latest in resource sharing, including innovative approaches to patron service and interlibrary loan workflows. At this year’s conference, you’ll find ways to improve operational efficiency, save time, and better connect end users to the information they need. Register today for this unique opportunity to interact with a very knowledgeable community of resource sharing professionals.