Patrick Shannon, head of Interlibrary Services, on his favorite library at UC Berkeley and the most rewarding part of his job

Portrait of Patrick Shannon
Patrick Shannon, head of Interlibrary Services, says he works with an amazing group of people in the Library. (Photo by J. Pierre Carrillo/UC Berkeley Library)

How would you describe your job and Interlibrary Services to someone who doesn’t work at a library?

Our mission is to support the research and scholarship of Berkeley patrons. No library can own everything. So it’s our job to obtain what we don’t own for our patrons who need it. The other part of our job is to open up Berkeley resources to other institutions and scholars who need what we have.

What is the most common question you get about your job?

Well, from people outside the Library, it’s, “What is ILL?” (Interlibrary Lending). Another question we get often is, “Can you borrow outside the UCs?” People think we are limited to UCs, and we’re not. We’re nationally and internationally networked.

Do you have any memorable stories of connecting someone with an item they requested?

We were contacted by the daughter of a person who had been a prisoner of war in World War II in the Philippines. He was an American serviceman, and she knew the date, roughly, that he came back after the war and was trying to get information for her mother — the father had passed away. We were able to find a San Francisco newspaper article from late ’45 or early ’46 that showed the ship on which he was repatriated coming through the Golden Gate. We sent it off to the family, and they were really delighted. It’s always nice when you touch people like that.

What’s your favorite library at UC Berkeley?

I have to say Morrison Room. It’s like a little oasis in a sea of craziness sometimes.

And how would you describe the Library in three words?

Dynamic, resilient, and beautiful.

So what’s your favorite thing about the Library as a patron?

I think it’s just the range of material that we have access to. You can find books on almost any subject. And we have a wonderful audiovisual collection.

Lastly, what’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Working with such an amazing group of people. And the other thing I would say is when you’re at our public service desk, and you hand the person the thing that completes their research, and you just see the gratitude on their face — there’s nothing like that.