My father was a professor at a world-class university, and he got me privileges at its library well before I started high school. I earned a B.A. at one of the best liberal arts colleges in the country, and went on to graduate work at another world-class university. As a result of this I became a library snob.
Unfortunately, I left academia in 1976. This meant I was a frustrated library snob. The situation was better from 1987 until 1998, when we lived in the Chicago suburb of Skokie, which has quite a nice library. After moving to Minnesota our library in Roseville, the largest in the Ramsey County suburban system, seemed like a big step down.
However, I have since learned better. Interlibrary Loan has been around for a long time, but with the internet its response time has vastly improved. I can get pretty much any book I am looking for without waiting too long. Lately, as a result of belonging to colgaffneyis, I am often looking for some really obscure historical works.
What is really cool is that the librarians don’t regard these requests as an imposition. Quite the contrary: They are really happy to help. It validates their expensive education and is probably more interesting than many of the inquiries they get during the day.
It also helps that I am careful to do my homework. I always have the author, title, publisher, etc. with me when I make these requests. Sometimes I bring in a photocopy of the Amazon.com book listing to be sure I have all the information. Amazon’s listings include quite a few old and out-of-print books, which makes it a useful database for these searches.