Can’t find what you’re looking for? Here’s why you shouldn’t just give up


You’ve searched Library Search and found the article that’s the cipher to your whole dissertation… but it’s not available. This article will tell you how to find that essential publication… by Richard Perkins.

You know how it goes; you’ve procrastinated enough, done the ironing, cleaned the fridge, even phoned your parents, but that essay is still looming. So you bang some relevant keywords into Library Search, spot exactly the journal article to plagiarise inspire you, and click the Web Bridge button to connect you to the full text. What? There’s no link? What are you going to do? After a minute or two of pondering, decide to go for a coffee of course. Oh, and a doughnut.

But you do have other solutions! Because no matter how discouraged you feel, the Library does offer solutions. The best type of solutions. The ones where you barely have to do anything.

Article Reach

This is a group of libraries which have agreed to pool their journal resources. So when Web Bridge doesn’t offer the full text, you’ll get a link to the AR service. When you connect to it the software will even copy the article details into the request form. And it’s free. All you have to do is click the button to submit the request. And sit back. Nearly 60% of requests are satisfied, mostly within 24 hours, with the article delivered to your inbox. Did I mention that it’s free?

Document Supply

But what if your request is one of the 40% which fails? You could try good old Document Supply, where the British Library satisfies the request. This requires a bit more effort in the shape of downloading a form (available here) and getting your tutor to sign it: whether by printing it out or by forwarding the form to your tutor via email for authorisation.

BTW, Document Supply doesn’t just get you journal articles; it can also get you books which the Library doesn’t have. Often with a delivery time of less than a week, and they’re yours for 3 – 6 weeks. Just remember to be nice to your tutor.

Anything else?

Well, yes. If there’s a book which we don’t have, and you think it would be useful for other people too, then ask us to buy it. The answer will almost always be positive. Unless it costs a fortune. Or we’ve eaten one of those doughnuts and are feeling kranky as a result.

Pretty straightforward, isn’t it? 


Image: Three meerkats/Tambako The Jaguar/ CC BY-ND 2.0

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