The Wonders of The InterLibraryLoan

9 02 2007

I think one of my favorite parts of being at college is the unlimited access to almost any book ever published.  A large number of those books are only a 1/4 mile walk away.  I want to read Jane Austen’s Emma at 2:30 in the morning?  I can just go check it out, and by 2:45 I’m curled up in bed with the book and a mug of tea.  I can spend hours browsing the stacks in our science library. 

But the best part is that any book they don’t already have for me, I can request, and they’ll get it.  Within a week, I can have my hands on every book in a series that I read in middle school.   Music scores that our extensive music library doesn’t have can be sent to me.   Jewish books that I can’t afford to buy, I can request (If anyone has any idea why my request for “The Shabbos Home” was filled by the George Washington University Law Library, I would love to know)

I have only really been disappointed in the Interlibrary Loan people once.   I placed an extremely detailed request for the Ark of the Covenant.  I carefully filled out the author, the publisher, the place of publication, the date of publication, that I wanted it in a language other than English, and that no other editions would be acceptable (Because any librarian worth their salt would instantly send me to any copy of the Tanakh rather than try to find the Ark of the Covenant). 

 Now, there were only one or two things they could have done, and the first was that they could have sent me an email saying “Emily, your request “The Ark of the Covenant” is waiting to be picked up at the circulation desk. ” which wasn’t very likely, and I didn’t expect it, and the other thing was that they could have sent me an email saying “Emily, we could not locate your request “The Ark of the Covenant” which was what I expected, but when I got the email, there was a third possibility that I hadn’t even counted upon, and they sent me an email “Emily, we feel that your request is too similar to something we already have in our collection, and will not fill your request.”  (My apologies to Arlo Guthrie)

Now, I would have been fine with this, if they had done something amusing, like refering me to a dvd copy of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, but no, they sent me to some microfiche from an 1880’s Christian magazine titled “Opening the Ark of the Covenant”.  It had nothing at all to do with the Ark.  What they had done was clearly run a search in our catalouge for “Ark of the Covenant” and referred me to the first hit. 

This would have all blown over, except for one line in the email.  “Feel free to place your request again with more information.”  Now, that’s just asking for me to try again.  It has since been pointed out to me that what I really want isn’t the Ark itself, but the tablets inside.  I want to make sure that the information I submit is as accurate and detailed as possible, so I am asking you all to check this and see if you can suggest any corrections:

Author: G-d (I think that’s more likely to be understood than HaShem, but am open to other ideas with reasons for one or the other)

Title: Tablets from the Ark of the Covenant

Publisher: Moses

Place of Publication: Mount Sinai

Date of Publication: 1240BCE (this is my best guess, but I can’t find any sources for this.  Surely they’re out there, points to anyone who can get me a more accurate date.)

Do you want this item if it is available in a language other than English? Yes

OCLC/LCCN number:(I’m leaving this blank, since I don’t quite know what it means, but am pretty sure that it won’t have one)

Will you accept an alternate edition of this item? No

Should the library consider purchasing this title for our collection? Yes (Why not?)

Other notes:  The edition I want was only published in Hebrew.  (Should I put a note here thanking them for tracking this down for me?  Perhaps something that hints  that a tongue in cheek answer would be good enough, without saying flat out that it’s a joke?)

*The tendancy to make weird requests like this appears to be genetic.  I was talking to my dad about it, and he said that at his old job they had a news service that would scan through all the articles in a long list of publications and send you the ones that related to any requests you put out.  The first thing he did when he found out about this was to put out a request for “Christ, Second Coming Of.”  According to him he got hits for it once or twice a year.  🙂

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4 responses

9 02 2007
Lilian

(: We would enjoy a request like this in our office! Much more fun than the usual stuff we get requests for!

9 02 2007
Emily

Oh good. Hopefully a librarian with a sense of humor will get it this time around. I’ll probably put in the request monday, so you all have until then to get me a more accurate publication date!

26 02 2007
Lilian

Have you had any response to your latest request?!

26 02 2007
Emily

No, I havn’t heard back. I didn’t get a chance to submit it till fairly recently though (the library website was having trouble) I’ll be sure to post something when I hear back. 🙂

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