My favorite part of the work day is when I do Interlibrary Loan.
First thing in the morning I check to see if we have any loan requests. I also check periodically throughout the day because I think it's so much fun. I get an email if one of our faculty, staff, or students need to borrow an item and I usually drop everything short of helping someone out to fill the request.
We have a a fairly small, old collection. We don't really have a budget for tons of new books every year. The fact that several times a week we get requests from all over the United States for one of our random items is awesome. Don't worry, random patron in Florida. We have that computer book from the 1980s! I know the fear being on the other end of the ILL equation. How it is to find a citation for a book somewhere but the local library doesn't have it. How it is to put your faith in someone lending it to you from some other library. Every time I get a request I run back to the stacks like I'm Barbara Gordon/Batgirl and proceed to make someones day by finding that book. When a library requested one of our graphic novels I almost peed myself with joy. I'm exaggerating only a little bit.
On the other end of the spectrum, I love getting requests from our faculty, staff, and students. Using WMS is a treat and I so enjoy the challenge of picking libraries to request the item from. I try to find potential lenders as local as possible. I then look for $0.00 charge. If I absolutely cannot find a library with the item for $0.00 I'll request it from wherever, but I definitely keep cost in mind.
Last week a patron requested an article from a conference proceeding that was only available as an eBook. I was worried. Most libraries do not loan something that's an electronic resource. I could only find THREE libraries that had it and didn't say that they don't lend e-materials. They were all either in Canada or Europe. I emailed the patron and warned him. I figured it would take awhile or we just couldn't get it. I found some libraries in the Triangle that had it if he wanted to drive to it. Hours later. HOURS later I received the Article Exchange link to it from some university in Canada. I felt totally Batgirl about it.
Just today I had a request for a children's book about London. I ran downstairs and found it immediately, and just as quickly fell in love with the illustrations. Thank you, patron in Durham (and the other libraries that turned you down before it got to me) I would have probably never found this without you!
In case you're wondering, the book is This is London by M. Sasek.
The concept of ILL still blows my mind. You can get almost any item you want by just putting in a request with your library. This, my friends, is why I'm a librarian. Finding stuff. Providing access to the masses. It's glorious.