Your Community: Interlibrary Loan – a source for weird and wonderful treasures

Go way beyond books into the world of interlibrary loans.

Looking for an old George Carlin vinyl record or hard-to-find Blu-ray movie? Seeking an academic journal article or rare book? Are you on the hunt for some type of small tool or musical instrument?  

Johnson County Library may be of assistance. The Library has a dedicated team of staffers eager to help  patrons borrow materials from other Library systems through the Interlibrary Loan service. This is an amazing but little-known service that increases Johnson County Library’s reach far beyond its own collection, to many thousands of library catalogues across the globe, through WorldCat FirstSearch.  

“We are the service provided by the Library that allows you to pursue your passions regardless of whether we own the material or not, that extends beyond just literary passions,” explained Devin Brotzer, who has been an Interlibrary Loan clerk for two years at the Central Resource location. “We’re just there to get the things you want that are trickier to find.” 

 Austin Johnson, an ILL clerk for the past five years, says he has seen some really interesting and bizarre items processed through Interlibrary Loan. It’s fun to prepare them for patrons to retrieve in the branches or for home-bound patrons to receive through HomeConnect. 

One of the most wonderful items he can recall was a folder from a university of about 200 photographic prints of hieroglyphics from a tomb. “I was like, how did they find this?” Johnson recalled. Another memorable item was a five-volume neurology textbook set. “I think it weighed close to 30 pounds,” Johnson said.  

 Other notable items loaned out in recent years: 

  • A Darth Vader cake pan.
  • A model of the inner workings of a human ear.
  • A deck of distinctive tarot cards from the 1970s.  

 A frequent ILL request is for vinyl records, often featuring opera. Patrons also frequently request DVDs of movies from a few decades ago that aren’t available for purchase anymore. Lesser-known fiction, limited release books, and academic or medical journals are also in demand.  

 One of the delightfully weird requests that Brotzer can recall was for the DVD of “The VelociPastor,” a 2017 American comedy/horror film. That one struck such a chord with the ILL staff that they persuaded Johnson County Library to acquire it for the collection. 

 The Interlibrary Loan service is available only to Johnson County residents with a Johnson County Library card. Patrons can peruse Worldcat FirstSearch for books, visual materials, sound recordings, musical scores, articles, maps and archival materials. They can also search for “real object” and pull up things like board games, tools, taxidermy etc.  

Patrons fill out a form to place a request, and Library staff can assist with difficult searches. 

 Most items are free, although some participating Libraries charge a fee. Items are on loan for three weeks.  

 Johnson County Library also loans materials from its collection to other Libraries through ILL. In March 2023, Johnson County Library loaned about 1,000 items to other places and borrowed almost 1,300 from other places.   

The staff would love to see even more people use this wonderful resource. 

“I feel like we’re an underutilized service sometimes,” Brotzer said. “I know a lot of people have very unique interests, and we want them to know we’re here for them.” 

Johnson County Library – Nurturing the Community’s Collective Wisdom