Fordham Notes: A Half-Century and a Half-Million Books Later

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Half-Century and a Half-Million Books Later

After a half-century of cataloging approximately a half-million books, Carole Lazarou retires today.
With over 2 million books spread among three main branches, Fordham University Libraries is the fourth largest system in New York State. All of these books must be processed, of course, and since 1964 about 30 percent of them passed through the hands of Carole Lazarou in the cataloging department.

Now, after 50 years, Lazarou is calling it a day. Her retirement starts today.

Linda LoSchiavo, the director of libraries, said that it’s astonishing to think about the changes that Lazarou has witnessed. She noted that Lazarou is one of the last people in the library who actually knows how to type out a catalog card—on a manual typewriter, no less. From manual to electric typewriter, and from DOS computer systems to today’s sleek digital systems, Lazarou has done it all with steadfast efficiency.

“She’s made the changes seem natural,” said LoSchiavo. “There was never any resistance. It was always ‘This is the way it is’ and she very quietly went about her work.”

Lazarou, a native of Yonkers, said she remembers being nervous on her first day work; at the time, she was stationed in the basement of Keating Hall. She said she loved the Christmas parties because it was a time when “you see everybody,” something of a treat for someone whose job required the processing of volumes of materials and which was often a solitary undertaking. Her favorite books were the art books, with Michelangelo being her favorite artist.

When John Williams became director of cataloging in 2010, he said that when he contemplated all the many details of running the department, his mind was put at ease when Lazarou said: “I'll do that.”

Always early to the office and rarely missing a day of work, Lazarou said she has no intention of slowing down. She’s very much looking forward to spending more time at her Yonkers fitness club.

“She leaves with a smile on her face, on her own two feet, and with a building full of friends,” said LoSchiavo.

--Tom Stoelker

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