Earlier this year, I started doing research for a play, and I ran across the proceedings of a conference that had been dedicated to the topic I was interested in. It had been held in Prague several years ago, and a copy of published journal was now selling for hundreds of dollars, so I filed away the reference and forgot about it.
Recently, I started writing the play, and I realized that as an MFA student, I had access to the University’s electronic library, including all the documents on JSTOR and similar resources. Alas, that particular conference wasn’t archived, but the library’s web page suggested inter-library loan. I filled out the form and waited. A few days later, I got a note saying the journal wasn’t available.
Now, I knew that wasn’t correct, because I’d looked it up on WorldCat and knew there was a copy at a university in Texas, and at least four elsewhere in the US. I sent the library a link to the listing saying “What about these copies?” The librarian informed me that all those schools charged a fee for inter-library loan, and unless you were a Ph.D. student, only libraries that offered free loans could be considered. I countered by offering to pay the fee myself. The librarian, seeing that I really wanted this item, said “Let me see what I can do.”
Today in my inbox, there’s a note saying I can pick up my inter-library loan! I need to bring that lady a brownie.