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Technology Transforms Librarians’ Job


NEW YORK � Fordham Librarian Linda LoSchiavo remembers when updating card catalogs seemed like an athletic event, requiring as many as three trips between different library buildings. But technology has changed all of that. For Fordham librarians, perhaps more appropriately called cyber-librarians, the opening of the $54 million William D. Walsh Family Library transformed how they do their work. The 2-year-old library is one of the most technologically advanced university library systems in the country. Rather than spending hours cataloging new books on index cards, Fordham librarians are guiding English literature students to the best online scholarly criticism of Jonathan Swift. They are teaching classes on how to search the latest legal databases on CD-ROM or evaluating software that sends email notices to patrons with overdue books. Fordham’s libraries drew nearly 1 million people during the 1998 academic year. Electronic documents accounted for 40 percent of library usage. To keep up with it all, Fordham librarians have developed 28 research guides, listing major indexing and abstracting services, printed materials and Internet sites related to specific fields of study. “Fordham librarians are able to assist patrons with every aspect of technology, from helping them to create their own Web sites at a computer in our Electronic Information Center to adding paper to the printer,” said James McCabe, the director of Fordham’s libraries. Fordham University Libraries are at three major locations: at the Rose Hill, Lincoln Center and Tarrytown campuses. The libraries own more than 1.7 million volumes, subscribe to 13,000 periodicals, have several rare book collections, are a depository for United States Government documents and offer more than 130 electronic databases.


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