If you love books like I do but are watching your pennies, then Interlibrary Loan is a great option for you. I like to buy some books, but others I just want to borrow – or maybe even look over a book before I decide to buy it. When it comes to Catholic books you might be lucky to find it in your library, but unless it is a Scott Hahn book, (maybe) or written by the Pope or Mother Teresa, you are pretty much out of luck. There do seem to be plenty of anti-Catholic books though. Nevertheless, some Catholic books are hard to find and a good Catholic book store even harder to find. Your local Barnes & Noble is unlikely to have any but the most popular Catholic books, but then you will be paying full price.
So, if you want to borrow a book, especially one that may be out of print, Interlibrary Loan is a great option. How this usually works is you can go to your local branch library, look up the book at the WorldCat database on their computers, and request it right there. The old way, which might be how your library does it, is to ask the librarian to look it up and request if for you. We are lucky here that we have a great library system, and we now have the ability to look at the database at home online and request it right there. WorldCat also has apps for your iPhone which is really cool. The ability to order a book from one of thousands of libraries, while sitting on my couch, is truly dangerous when in my hands…but I digress.
You will have to wait, sometimes for a few weeks, while the request goes through and a library from another system in the United States mails it to your main library, where it is processed and then sent to your branch for you to pick up. If you want the book tomorrow you will be disappointed. You are trading time instead of money. This though, has been a fantastic way for me to get great Catholic books that I would not have otherwise been able to acquire. Many of the books I have gotten have been from seminaries or Catholic college libraries. I picked up the other day Praying Scripture for a Change: An Introduction to Lectio Divina, and I’m really impressed with it, so I may buy it from Amazon, but in the meantime getting it this way allowed me to see if I really wanted to buy it.