Free books and videos: Get expensive and hard-to-find titles by Inter-Library Loans

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On another forum someone pointed out that a book I recommended was very expensive. He was right, but I'd not even considered the cost when I recommended it because I don't buy books, even though I'm a pretty voracious reader. I get 'em all from my local public library. My public library doesn't have a copy of the book in question (it's a small library in a small town), but libraries belong to networks of libraries and can get books from other libraries for their patrons. This service is free and is generically called Inter-Library Loans.

If you want to read or thumb through a book that is not in your own library's holdings, just ask to speak to the Inter-Library Loan librarian or whoever is in charge of Inter-Library Loans (ILL). In very small libraries, the main librarian usually does this job. Very nearly every library will be able to get books to you from other libraries, often from clear across the country, though they always try to get a copy from the nearest source.

In the case of very obscure books (typically academic books which are out of print) they have to get them from a university library, and these institutions occasionally charge a fee to loan books out to other libraries, but the librarian will apprise you if a fee is involved before they order the book for you. When an ILL book arrives for you, your library will usually contact you by phone or e-mail to let you know they are holding it for you. The loan periods are often quite generous and one can usually get them renewed, but you usually have to renew them several days before they are due. Fines for late returns on ILL books are heavier though, so don't be late with them.

To get a book this way, you usually just say you want an Inter-Library Loan, giving the librarian the author and title. If you need a specific edition, such as the "new revised and updated version" of a book, or in hardcover, or large print, etc), tell the librarian this also. Some librarians just jot this down and take it from there, seeking out the book you need and letting you know if/when they have located it and then ordering it for you. Other libraries have you fill out a slip of paper where you list author, title, and other relevant info and hand that in to them, at which point they begin searching for the book. Some libraries have online search facilities which permit you to look for the titles you want yourself and then you just click 'request' which sends this info to the librarian who then contacts the other library and borrows it on your behalf and notifies you when it arrives.

One caveat though - it is often difficult to obtain books which have just been published since libraries have a policy of not lending out their newly acquired books to other libraries for a certain duration (up to a year, typically) to ensure that their own local patrons have the opportunity to borrow them before they start lending them to patrons of other libraries.

ILL is easy, free (except in rare instances), and in my experience in dealing with librarians all over Canada and the USA, librarians are eager to help you get the titles they don't have in their own holdings. Oh...and it's not just books. Many libraries will lend CDs, DVDs, and other media via ILL as well. I have viewed a lot of instructional videos this way, such as Bill Mason's Path of the Paddle series and many others. And don't worry if the title you want is on VHS tape or audio cassette and you don't own a VHS or cassette player; your library likely has VHS players and tape decks and headphones so you can watch/hear these right there in the library when they arrive.

Hope this helps,
- Martin
 
Joined
Sep 1, 2012
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226
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Northwest Wyoming
I'm a librarian and I approve this message. (it's election season and I couldn't resist.) Further, I work at a university, and our library and lots of other college and university libraries will lend materials for free. We want to see stuff used, whether by our patrons or some other library's patrons.

You can watch at least some of the Bill Mason films for free, online, by going to the National film board of Canada, at least I think that's what it's called. Go to http://www.nfb.ca and search for mason. There're buttons that tell you how much it'll cost to download the film, or to buy a DVD, but watching the film(s) online is(are) free.

Pringles
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
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Location
Appleton, Maine
Very informative. I have used this service before and it works well. I have been looking for "The Way of the Wilderness" by Calvin Rutstrum for a long time on eBay. The "New Way of the Wilderness" is easy to find, but "The Way" is very hard. I would like a copy to complete my collection of CR, but it looks like it won't happen. Maybe I'll need to go to the lending library to just read it and never real own it. Not the same, but worth a try.
Thanks
 
Joined
Sep 1, 2012
Messages
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Northwest Wyoming
I just puttered around a bit, and if you just want to READ it... Go to http://hathitrust.com and type way of the wilderness in the search box. I picked out way of the wilderness, and it loaded on my screen without any problem. I didn't need a special reader or any special software--and I was a bit concerned because I'm using my iPad and it doesn't "translate" everything, but this worked just fine. It took me a minute to figure out how to turn the pages (click the side of the page you want to go, so right to go forward, left side to go back), but I figured it out! :) Pringles
 
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Jan 14, 2015
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I work in a public library and it's a treat to receive books from every dot on the map for patrons. Here in NYS however, due to budget cuts, etc., books have to valued (at Amazon, no less) at $25 or above to be considered for ILL loans if they are not available in our database of lending libraries. ( Public, Academic, State and a few others). This didn't used to be the case. I try to weasel around it ,occasionally with some luck if someone really needs the item. Libraries are the foundations of democracy. You just have to know they're there.
 
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