Monday, June 30, 2008

I Be ILLin

To ILL or not to ILL? That is the question, my friends. Does anyone have a reliable litmus test that determines the books that they order from ILL and those that they order from Amazon?

I'm gearing up to write this article---which I think I finally have an angle on, for which I am eternally grateful---but I find, like many projects, that it involves a number of sources that I don't possess, and neither does our library. (To put in a different way: there is a vast and useful library that is made up of everything that our own library does not have.) And so I find myself in a quandary: which do I want to own, and which can I just borrow for two weeks? In the past, I've been pretty loose with this: I like to own my books, dammit. I like to write in them, to have them on hand, and I've never mastered the trick of copying just what I need from a book and then returning it. In fact, when I do that, I have a terrible tendency to return it and then figure out later that I need something else, only to borrow it again.

Thus, in the past, I become a glutton of Amazonia, ordering willy nilly. This has, of course, resulted in books that I use for a particular project and never turn to again. Given the economic downturn, and a concurrent (although seemingly not a cause and effect relation) desire to de-clutter and to use what I have, I'm wary of replicating this pattern. I've bought a few books used, and I've been trying to be good about using ILL for articles, and to try out books before I decide to order them.

But time is short, my friends. I don't have the weeks it takes for ILL to come in, and then to decide whether or not to order a book. Lay it on me: how do you know when a book wants to live with you, and when it wants to live in the library?

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6 Comments:

Blogger Flavia said...

I have no answer to this problem (although it's one I'm currently mired in, myself)--but this post's title had me laughing harder than I have in a long while.

Monday, June 30, 2008 11:29:00 PM  
Blogger kfluff said...

Glad to know it's not just me, Flavia. And I like to think that the Old School Beastie Boys also have problems with interlibrary loan. Don't you think?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008 7:29:00 AM  
Anonymous The Bittersweet Girl said...

Does it really take two weeks? I've got a pretty crummy library but the ILL is super fast -- only a few days, usually.

I usually ILL everything and then see what I want to buy. But, I have to say, I've bought fewer and fewer academic books the longer I'm in the profession ... maybe because I've realized how little I actually need to have 24/7 access to them or maybe because I've become disillusioned that any of them actually hold the answers I'm looking for.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008 9:24:00 AM  
Blogger Mel said...

I ILL 99% of all things. Some things will come in less than 2 weeks. And if there are article versions of any of what you are looking for, ILL can usually get you PDFs of articles in a couple of days.

This is because I know I'm not going to keep rereading most of the books -- in fact, most of them just need a quick skimming and then xerox/scan just one chapter or so for my files.

Also, I can be bad about procrastinating on writing by continuing to look up more books. ILL is a way of satisfying that urge (here let me look up 10 more sources on rabbit trail idea #3) and then when they come in I can be more ruthless about which ones I actually read.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008 7:53:00 PM  
Blogger JustMe said...

i'm all about the ILL. i only buy if i really like the book and will use it a bunch, and if i need to write in it...cuz you never know if the book will be good until you read it

Wednesday, July 02, 2008 2:59:00 AM  
Blogger kfluff said...

Holy crow, I miss a few days and there's a comment pile-up! Hi folks! Who knew that ILL was going to be a hot topic?

What emerges as the dominant theme here is that I should use ILL more often, and for all of the good points you make. Bittersweet---you're exactly right: I seldom need them all the time. Of course, I'm a last-minute kind of gal, and perhaps that's why I like to have them. By the time I realize I need it, it's too late to get it from ILL.

Mel---you're reading my mind. I'm all about using research as procrastination. I find that I ILL like crazy, and then when stuff comes in, I think: gee, I don't even want that enough to go to the library to get it.

JustMe--excellent point as well. Some stuff sounds so good in a quote or a bibliography, and when you get it, phbttt. Or however you spell that noise?

I'm off to pester the librarians!

Thursday, July 03, 2008 8:21:00 AM  

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