The Virtual Library – a story in desperation

July 23, 2009

Collaborative approach to librarianismWhen registration for spring first became available, I was sure to register for the course.  I then changed Masters programs and was not fully sure that I would be able to take the class.  Because of this, I decided to stay registered in the class, but did not purchase the textbook as I wanted to hear what my advisor said regarding the class.  As the course approached, I finally had an opportunity to sit down with my advisor in the latter part of June and she informed me that EDES 501 would be an excellent option course.

I said to myself, “Time to get the textbook.”

When I went to Amazon.ca and purchased the text, I was informed that the text would not arrive for a few weeks, well into the course.  What was I to do?

I decided to get onto the Internet.  My first stop was the University of Alberta library system.  From here, using the online catalog, I found out that the book was currently out, and had one person next in line to take it out.  I added my name to the list and carried on looking for the book.  My next stop was the Strathcona County Library website.  From here I looked through the catalog online.  The book was not in the catalog, but I did link to the Alberta Library Online.  From here, I was able to request an InterLibrary loan of the book.  I received an e-mail back the next day that stated, “This title is too new to borrow on Interlibrary Loan”.  I then checked Edmonton Public Library, but they did not have the book in their catalog.

Before the Internet, I would have had to physically go to each of these libraries and check to see if each one had the book available.  Now I am able to do all of this searching right from the comfort of my own home with the use of my computer.

Searching a catalog is just one of the uses of a virtual library, however.  From these library websites, I am able to:

  • Search databases for scholarly and non-scholarly work such as articles from academic journals, magazines, and trade documents.
  • Read items that have digital versions
  • Research how to reference / cite resources in my academic work
  • Ask A Librarian

These are wonderful features that would not be available if there was not a virtual library set up.

In the end, I was able to get the text from the U of A libraries and keep it until just before my copy arrived from Amazon.  This was definitely a close call.  See my next blog where I discuss the academics of virtual libraries and their use in schools.


  1. Yes, Dan, I agree with you and others that access to electronic sources certainly made earning a Master’s degree do-able for me.

  2. I believe that I was the first to sign the book out and the timing for me was also impeccable Dan; I received my email recall the day before Richardson’s text arrived in my mail. Now if I had only realized I purchased (and paid dearly for) the hard cover instead of ordering a soft cover text – good thing it is such a great resource!

    ~:) Heather

  3. Dan,

    Enjoyed reading about how you obtained a copy of the text. I didn’t know there was a text (since I missed the email in April or whenever it came to everyone who was already registered in the class. Once I knew the name of the text (last week of June), I checked the university library and the public library. Both had one copy of the 2006 edition of the text. I requested both but only picked up one. Meanwhile, I ordered the text through Amazon but was told it may take three weeks. The textbook arrived in the mail this morning. Fortunately I ordered a paperback version. Come to think of it, I also ordered in an online manner and paid online as well. It beats standing in line in a university bookstore and paying for parking.

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