Library News, Library Staff

Behind the Scenes at the Library: Technical Services

By Lynn Parliman, Head of Serials and Electronic Resources

A Look Inside Technical Services

Much work is being done behind the scenes in order for library users to find the content they are looking for. Fordham Libraries’ Technical Services group is working diligently to place orders for the books and videos you request, process each item so it appears in our catalog with the proper author, title, subject headings, call numbers, and location, as well as making sure the electronic links are connected and directing users to the correct site.

In fact, the Technical Services group is a key contributor to the Libraries’ Mission of collecting and preserving records of human knowledge and creativity in print, manuscript, electronic, microform, audio, visual, and other appropriate formats; and providing access to these records by organizing, cataloging, and indexing them.

The Evolution of Tech Services
On the left, a card catalog drawer filed with index cards. On the right, a laptop screen showing lines of code.
Technology Expertise

While the group historically has been called Tech Services, encompassing Acquisitions, Cataloging, and Serials, the rapid growth of electronic resources in all formats has significantly transformed the entire group. Electronic resources require librarians to have advanced IT skills, as complex back-end programming and set-up are necessary for the content to work properly. Videos, eBooks, eJournals, and Databases content from hundreds of publishers and their proprietary platforms must be assessed for system and network compatibility and then formatted, posted, and frequently monitored for continuous access.

User Support & Accessibility

Our Technical Services librarians solve a wide variety of user access problems, routed to the library from the Fordham HelpIT system, since many browser versions, software settings, and types of computer hardware are being used by students and faculty on their personal devices. Each unique configuration needs to work with library content!

In addition, Tech Services librarians work closely with publishers and vendors to advocate for improved accessibility and functionality for all users. We maintain a copy of most publisher Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPATs) to document their degree of conformance to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

Embracing Open Access

Fordham has Technical Services librarians who monitor the usage of each online journal and database so investments made by the library are optimized. Our Technical Services librarians also curate high-quality scholarly Open Access E-resources that are free to all with no paywalls. Open Access resources are very important to the library community since they contribute to information and digital equity and sustainability initiatives, and are rapidly growing in popularity among scholars, publishing organizations, and librarians. And, if you are working remotely or are a Fordham alum, no sign-in authentication is required.

Managing Print & Digital Collections
Bookshelves filled with periodicals in colorful bindings.

Soon, our print journal collection will be returned to the shelves in the East Reading Room after being relocated for safety measures taken at the start of the pandemic. Our Technical Services staff makes sure the latest volumes are received and that they are in order on the shelves. The staff also makes sure the older issues are bound together for preservation and moved to the stacks for years of research to come.

Fordham Libraries own more than one million books, provide access to hundreds of thousands of eBooks, and subscribe to more than 800 print journals/serials and 1,600 online journals (with selective access to tens of thousands of additional eJournals). The entire Technical Services staff works earnestly to support all schools and programs, students, and faculty in their academic pursuits. This was keenly evident at the start of the pandemic when the library successfully switched overnight to a completely online environment!

Stay up-to-date with Technical Services! Find all of our databases, e-journals, and e-book collections, and more on our Databases Guide. New resources are regularly added, so be sure to bookmark the guide for all of your research needs. Also, peruse the Library News Blog’s Databases and Journals category for announcements of new resources, collection highlights, and technology tutorials.

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