Tracking Down that Tricky Reference . . .
Okay, so you've checked the Toronto Public Library website for a work that you must have in order to finish your research paper, and it is not in the system . . . Now what are you going to do? Before coming to the Library, and completing an Inter-Library Loan Request form for the material, there are four free internet databases that you may want to investigate first . . . and here's why:
Worldcat connects you to the holdings of more than 10,000 libraries worldwide, and several of them are located right here in the GTA. With over 1.5 billion item locations in its database, there is a distinct chance that the material that you are looking for is available at another Library close by.
There is a real possibility that your material has been digitized by Google Books - especially if it is older - and while the whole book may not be available in full text, the part you want to read may be. Google estimates that there are roughly 130 million discrete titles in the world and that they have digitized about 15 million of them.
ABE Books has over 140 million titles in its database and thus represents thousands and thousands of booksellers. The book that you need might be available for purchase for as little as a dollar, and even with shipping, this might be less than the $20 or $25 charge back fee for an Inter-Library Loan request item - depending on where the material comes from.
The Internet Archive emphasizes primary resources in a wide selection of formats with almost 3 million texts, half a million moving images, almost a million audio files, and over a 150 billion web pages - these being archived through the "waybackmachine." Internet Archives' motto is "Universal access to all knowledge", and if you have a look at their "Projects" page, you'll see that they are on the right track!