British Columbia Library Association

Getting to Know…Ioana Liuta (and the Interlibrary Loans ‘magic’)

By British Columbia Academic Libraries Section (BCALS)

This article was originally submitted to BCLA Perspectives in February 2020.

Ioana Liuta works as a library assistant for Simon Fraser University Interlibrary Loans and as a student librarian for UBC Library, for AskAway service, BC’s online library research chat. She is also an MLIS student at UBC iSchool and a Continuing Education Coordinator for BC Academic Libraries Section. She is a Romanian immigrant, arriving in Canada more than 15 years ago.



What do you do in your job?

My job in Interlibrary Loans is to provide access to library resources by facilitating the exchange of library items among libraries, to either supply SFU Library items to other libraries and their patrons, and to request and receive items from other libraries for our students and faculty. It’s either that SFU Library does not own the item or it does not have it available or in the format that our patron desires it (E-book instead of print, for example) or the other libraries do not store the item, but we are able to supply it. We supply more requests than we receive. In many instances, the job involves a bit of detective work and it can feel like a treasure hunt. There are still bits of magic in ILL work and I thoroughly enjoy the sense of discovery or ‘unearthing’ something difficult to locate and supply; also, the feeling that by providing access to rare or hard-to-get materials the research becomes in this way limitless, and that the information inequity is ‘discontinued’ between haves and have nots. For those who know about it, Interlibrary Loans can be many times a lifesaver. We provide researchers with materials that can be critical for their research but SFU Library does not own.


What’s one exciting thing you’ve worked on recently?

The most exciting thing I keep working on is helping one SFU Faculty member wrapping up the research for a soon-to-be-published book, after a few years of finding materials for her. Inevitably, one cannot feel but playing a major role in this particular research process. Canada’s Early Women Writers project is yet another example of research support provided for years by SFU Interlibrary Loans.

Also, recently at the UBC iSchool, I’ve worked with a colleague on a project about public libraries use by immigrants, which reports the results of a survey of the library use and information seeking behaviour for the Romanian and Iranian newcomers in the Lower Mainland. Some recommendations to address barriers to library use were made, which hopefully will not only benefit the Romanian and the Iranian newcomers, but all immigrant communities in general in Lower Mainland and beyond.


What’s something important that one needs to know to be successful in your job?

One needs to be open to establish meaningful professional relationships with both our patrons (SFU students, faculty and staff) but also beyond the SFU community, with both Canadian interlibrary loan departments, the US, but really all over the world. You get to know each other, both in the small Interlibrary loans and the SFU community. Last but not least, to respond to a request (and to lend or borrow an item) in an effective and efficient manner is paramount to performing very well in this job.


What’s something unique or unusual about your library / campus community?

During my graduate studies in Urban Studies at SFU and as a new immigrant to Canada, I randomly ended up first having as my student email, getting ILL related emails now and then, and then working in Interlibrary Loans, and I said, “I like this, it is actually fun, meaningful and interesting”. SFU Library is a great place to work for, and I and many of my colleagues started our careers many times just like that.


Media recommendations: What is something you have enjoyed lately?

I’ve recently read The rule of four after I had the privilege to look at the book that inspired it, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, published by Aldus Manutius in Venice in 1499, on ‘special loan’ from University of Manitoba to SFU Special Collections; also,  I’d like to mention the Unforgiving Years by Victor Serge and the Library Book by Susan Orleans. Mostly during commuting time, I usually listen to podcasts, 99% Invisible is one of my favorites, and Brandi Carlile’s music.

Getting to Know… is a regular column by the British Columbia Academic Libraries Section (BCALS) that profiles academic library workers from around the province. If you would like to be featured, please contact

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