In Which I Share Some Secret Tips For Successful Navigation of the Library Now That You Will Need a Bunch of Books All the Time

Britain_Book_Maze_08def-1At the peak of my MAPH workload last year, I had 82 library books piled in my study. They were carefully organized: there was That Pile Over There, The Books That Fell Down By The Closet, and The Books The Dog Kept Trying To Chew. I freely admit that there was no reason to have the volume of books I had. I just couldn’t get over the fact that I could get books on anything I was interested in. I had the might of the UChicago library system behind me.

But just as I did, you will inevitably run into one of these horrifying situations…

1) You want a book that is checked out of the library or 2) someone wants a book that you have. And then, because it is as simple as a click of the mouse, you do something terrible. Or worse, someone does it to you. You know what I’m talking about. Recall. There is nothing more painful in all the world than to see a book torn from the arms of its wailing reader. What kind of monster would wish such a thing on someone? Especially when there are services like UBorrow. It’s one thing to have the might of the UChicago library system. It’s another thing entirely to have that might brought to bear on your behalf by another DOZEN research libraries.

In the Recall Universe, feral bands of students fight bitterly with one another over limited resources, scrambling over the dead and fallen bodies of those who lost the books they needed.

In the UBorrow universe, everyone has the books they need. When multiple students need the same book, they each can have a copy. The sun shines all the time, and it only rains when you want it to. Adults can talk to animals, and everyone finds true love.

Note the following from a recent Library News story:

In the past year, approximately 2,300 University of Chicago students, faculty, and staff have borrowed more than 10,500 books through the UBorrow service. The popularity of the new service led to a 30 percent decrease in the number of items recalled from UChicago Library users…suggesting that many are choosing not to inconvenience UChicago borrowers when copies can be easily obtained through UBorrow.

In many cases, UBorrow provides a better option than recalling a checked out book or getting it through traditional interlibrary loan, as the book is likely to be received more quickly through UBorrow than through either of these services. As an added benefit, books obtained from UBorrow will not be recalled before their due dates, except under unusual circumstances, such as when a book is needed for course reserve at the lending library.

Which is to say, use UBorrow whenever possible. The book will get here quicker/as quickly, your peers won’t see you with the book they just had and start plotting their revenge, and you will alleviate some of your stress in an already stressful time.

Another of my most favorite library services is Scan & Deliver. Imagine this scenario: you’re in your apartment, looking through a bibliography. You find a citation you’re interested in, and you want to get your hands on a chapter of a certain book. You look in the library catalog, notice the book is at the Regenstein, but you just don’t feel like trekking over there. Using the Scan & Deliver service, you just tell the library what pages you want, and they scan them and send you a PDF. For free. I’m not even kidding. Then you have it forever, and you can write all over it and print it whenever you need it. It’s amazing.

Lastly, I want to mention Regenstein’s DVD collection. It’s incredible. You can check movies out and watch them at home. If you ever give yourself a movie-watching break and want access to a wider variety of films than Netflix or The Pirate Bay allows, check out the east wall of the second floor of the Reg. It’s a treasure trove of treasure. For extra film fun, check out the Film Studies Center, too.

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