You could become overwhelmed with the choices of books available to you these days. There are so many options and formats for obtaining books through book stores, libraries, and the Internet. One option the library offers, but many don't think about, is interlibrary loan. Through this service, our library is able to get books from any library in the United States that is part of the lending program - that even includes the Library of Congress. It makes our library collection larger by making available so many other library's holdings. It is particularly helpful when you are looking for obscure subjects or older titles. I was amazed, just this week, that we were able to get a book for someone that would have cost $350 through Amazon if they had purchased it. This week we also received an interlibrary loan from the FBI library in Quantico - did you know they had their own library? I believe the FBI must have money as they sent the book priority for $9.45. We will not be returning it in the same manner.
The down part about interlibrary loan could be that it costs you $2.50 per request and sometimes it takes a couple of weeks for the book to get here so you can't be in a hurry for it. We don't like charging, but due to the price of postage these days, our library cannot cover those costs. We are giving you a bargain, however, as it usually costs us more than that to return the loaned book. We also can't do much about the timing element as the book first has to be located at a library who has it in, and then that has to be mailed snail mail from clear across the country.
If you have a title that you've been wanting to read and just haven't been able to find anywhere, think about trying interlibrary loan. It is also an excellent way to get journal articles, free of charge, for college classes. If you've found the article but can only get the citation information online, we can order that article for you. Usually a university, who pays for access to large periodical databases, will copy it for us and send it via e-mail and this process is usually pretty fast.