“The librarian greeted me, asked for my name, and scanned a shelf of books along the wall. She pulled one from the collection, and placed it on the counter—but left her hand on the book. She smiled. “Don’t remove this white band,” she said. “Don’t rip it. Don’t touch it. It will cause problems.” I nervously smiled in return. There is nothing more frightening than a confident librarian. The white band on the book, as fellow devotees of the glorious InterLibrary Loan system know, contains all of the information to facilitate return of the item to the lending library. Removed bands slow down the system. And the last thing that I would ever want to do is hurt, in any way, a system that has been so good to me.
…InterLibrary Loan continues to be an essential resource—even in the digital era. It is comforting to delude ourselves that everything is available online, but there’s a wealth of significant material that remains only in print. The Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), which maintains WorldCat, reported 280 million ILL requests since the organization began in 1967, including 6.9 million in 2018 alone…”