As the coronavirus pandemic has unfolded, Fordham Law’s Maloney Library, a busy center of study, research, training, and instruction for the entire Fordham community, has made it a priority to ensure that as many of its services as possible continue to be offered remotely.
“Knowing that Fordham Law students are either locked down in New York or have returned to their families’ homes all across the country, we knew they would benefit enormously from access to online legal materials such as casebooks and study aids,” said Maloney Library Director Todd Melnick. “Our team worked quickly to enter into agreements with the major legal information publishers to provide free online access to those materials.”
Within days after the announcement that Fordham Law’s classes would be conducted remotely, students were able to freely access a wide array of online materials including casebooks from all of the major publishers, the full run of Wolters Kluwers’ popular Examples and Explanations series, the entire Nutshell Series published by West Academic, outlines by both Emanuel’s and Gilbert’s, and many others useful titles. Access keys to the online Bluebook were also provided free of charge to every law student. Moreover, online subscriptions to The New York Times, a perk first offered in fall 2019 funded by the library and law school, ensure that no member of the Fordham community lacks access to timely and accurate news and information about the crisis. “Usage statistics for these resources prove that they have provided a lifeline to students struggling to learn the law while dealing with an unprecedented public health and economic crisis,” said Melnick.
Anticipating the law school building would close, the library mobilized remote reference and research assistance to the entire Fordham community via phone, email, and chat. In addition, it moved its six spring semester advanced legal research classes completely online–including the three-credit Advanced Legal Research Workshop, and classes covering research methods in Tax, IP, Foreign and International Law, and legal research essentials. Collectively, these courses delivered innovative online content to 70 students.
To maintain a connection with its patron groups during this period of unusual separation, the library increased its communication to students, faculty, and staff through email and social media. To inform patrons about the many new resources now available remotely, the library staff constructed a comprehensive library services page.
Most recently, librarians have been working to transform its popular in-person Research Assistant (RA) Bootcamp into a virtual program. Scheduled for May 28, the program will introduce students to what is expected of a summer research assistant, give them an overview of library resources, and show them how to use them efficiently. Typically, the in-person event attracts 30-40 participants and we expect an excellent online attendance this year.
Finally, in preparation for the fall 2020 semester, the library staff has created working groups to address issues including the health and safety of library patrons and staff, the continuity of remote services, excellence in online teaching, maintaining connection and community in an online environment, and preserving equity and non-discrimination in the delivery of online library services.
“The Maloney Library has always been a vibrant center of study, scholarship, training, and teaching,” said Melnick. “During this crisis, we are absolutely dedicated to providing a high level of service, engaging deeply with our patrons, and preserving and enhancing our value to the Fordham community.”