Feature Friday: Meet April Beckler, Wild Goose Catcher

Posted on: September 10, 2021

Interlibrary Loan almost seems too good to be true, doesn’t it? Imagine…

You’re researching for a paper, but one of the sources you’d like to reference eludes you.
You’re in a book club, and the library doesn’t have some of the books you’re reading.
You’re writing a book chapter, and a source you need is out of print.
You remember a Johnny Cash album from when you were little, but can’t find it anywhere.

Somewhere (on the 2nd floor of Carrier Library, to be exact), someone in the Interlibrary Loan office receives your request and gets to work trying to find it for you. If our library doesn’t have it, another library probably does! Interlibrary Loan is an amazing network of cooperating libraries from across the globe who send materials to one another free of charge. That means, as a participating library, JMU not only receives materials from Germany, California, and Thailand, but sends them, too! And who does this work?

Meet April

April Beckler works in our Interlibrary Loan & Course Reserves office. Part of her job is to track down articles and book chapters for JMU faculty, staff, and students (alongside other Interlibrary Loan staff). The other part of her job is to facilitate Course Reserves – a service that allows instructors to place limited checkout times on specific library resources so they’re not as likely to be checked out when students need them for class.


What was one of your proudest moments in your job?

I am always thrilled when I’m able to track down a tricky article that looked like a wild goose chase at the start. For example, one of my article success stories was when I was searching for an unpublished symposium paper from Serbia. I contacted the University of Belgrade arts department, who had hosted the symposium in 2002. They tracked down the presenter, who gave them permission to scan and supply the paper, which they emailed to me for no charge. I love how that all works out! And to be honest, it makes me feel a bit like a wizard!

Are there any other projects or involvements you want to share?

Course Reserves is undergoing an exciting shift in the near future—we are using a new reserves module called Leganto that integrates into Canvas. Instructors will have the option to create lists of print and/or electronic library resources from within their Canvas course. Once instructors finish creating their Course Reserves Reading List, items on the list will be verified by our office to ensure that links are active and print books are pulled and ready to circulate. Students will be able to view the completed reading lists in Canvas, too! 

What excites you most about your work right now?

My job as the Article Borrowing Coordinator sometimes involves personally contacting authors, publishers, newspaper editors, or archivists at state or national archives. I enjoy the conversations and cooperation that comes from these interactions, and am continually delighted by the generosity of time and effort that researchers and folks who work in libraries across the world put forth when I ask them for help locating sources. More than once I’ve contacted an author about a paper they wrote decades ago and have gotten in response a copy of the paper itself, as well as their dissertation on the same topic, as well as a few other relevant articles the author believes may be helpful to someone doing research in the same field!

I am also very excited for the improvements to Course Reserves with our new Canvas integration. I am hopeful that this change will help JMU Libraries better partner with instructors to improve resource stewardship and access. 

What’s your favorite local restaurant or local attraction?

My husband and I have a standing date night to order tacos and queso from Magnolia’s every Saturday—we’re a year strong into this tradition and aren’t even close to being tired of it yet!

What would you like everyone at JMU to know about you?

My colleagues and I deeply enjoy working with our patrons and helping them meet their research needs. We are happy to chat about research requests or to answer questions—please reach out to us if we can help! I love love love being a helper and love working within a community of others equally driven to assist and share resources. 

Contact and Learn More

To contact April Beckler and her team, email interlib@jmu.edu or submit a request through Interlibrary Loan or Course Reserves.

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