In its efforts to acquire and preserve the University Library's rare books, manuscripts, and special collections, the John Hay Library has not been slow to embrace the technological changes which have advanced learning and research in all fields. To further its mission, the Reader Services area of the library underwent significant reconstruction this summer to create an Electronic Reference and Information Center, modeled after those already in operation at the Rockefeller, Sciences, and Orwig libraries. The Center will permit access to over 80 reference and full-text databases, as well as to other library catalogs and national bibliographical resources.
In preparation for the construction, the Harris American Poetry and Plays card catalog and the Rare Books card catalog were moved to a new permanent location one floor down, while other catalogs and special files remained in place, in an effective combination of the old and the new. The staff managed to keep up with patron service demands during an exceptionally busy summer from a temporary base in the lobby.
Presently there are four public, high-end workstations and two laser printers in the Center adjacent to the Reader Services Desk. One of these workstations is designed for handicapped users, and one is intended for use in consultation with curatorial staff. The two Josiah terminals were relocated, one to the Center and the other to Reader Services, so that staff can assist users without having to leave the desk. In addition, there are now two workstations in the Reading Room, one of which allows users to access electronic resources at the same time they have access to original books, manuscripts, broadsides, sheet music, and other print collections. The other is at the monitor's desk, and will allow the user to search Josiah and other databases in consultation with the staff.
In preparation for this new service area in the Hay, several members of the library's reference and curatorial staff trained and worked at the Rockefeller Reference Desk to gain experience with the range of questions and problems presented by electronic media. The staff looks forward to the opportunity to assist users of its collections, which encompass examples from the ancient world to the twentieth century, with the technological tools of the Twenty-first Century.