What Can I Do When the Library Doesn't Have the Book I Want to Read?

Your friend has recommended a book and you’ve checked the catalog and found that the library doesn’t own it. Since you really don’t want to purchase it yourself, what can you do to get it through the library? The process is easy and, if you wish, one that you can do from home on your computer.

On the library’s home page, open the catalog. Then, click on the box in the upper right corner and log into your account. You’ll need the numbers under your barcode and your telephone number (dashes and area code not necessary) to do this. If you have trouble logging in, call the library (930-3551) to find out what phone number we have on your record.

The page that opens when you log in-your account-contains lots of information. You’ll see the basic information we have about you, which you may edit, what materials you have checked out, books that may be waiting for you to pick up, and the way you prefer to be contacted about overdue items and holds, which also may be edited. Scroll down a bit further and you’ll see a line that says “Is the library missing something?” Click on “request” on that line and then fill out the box that appears. Give us as much information about the book as you have. Author and title are very important, but other helpful information includes the ISBN number, publication date, or location of a review of the book.

The staff is notified automatically when anyone makes a request. Our librarians will look at your request and decide whether the book should be added to our collection. That decision is based on the age of the book (it might not even be in print, or only available used), the appropriateness or the material for our library (something academic might not be checked out often enough to make it worth purchasing), and whether the book may be one that we’ll receive with our standing orders (in which case you’ll just have to be patient- soon it will be on the shelf). Incidentally, to see which authors’ books we will automatically receive, while you’re in your account, scroll down to “Have some favorite authors?” and click on “receive new books.” A list pops up of all the authors whose new books we automatically receive. Select as many authors as you like and you’ll automatically be placed on the wait lists for their new books.

If the librarian decides to order the book, you will be notified when it is available. If the librarian chooses not to purchase the book, you’ll be given the option of ordering it through interlibrary loan (ILL). This is a service whereby we borrow books from other libraries all over the country. You will have to pay the postage one way, and it may take two to three weeks for the book to arrive, but it’s still cheaper than buying a copy yourself. The normal lending period for ILLs is three to four weeks, although there will always be exceptions.

Let us know what you’re looking for. We’ll try to help!

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