University Libraries and Information Services


Several University departments help faculty, officers of research, students, and staff meet their information needs. These offices can be grouped into two categories depending on whether their mission focuses on providing assistance with information content or technology.

Several service organizations that operate under the Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian assist members of the University community in obtaining the information resources they need: the University Libraries (excluding the Law Library, which reports to the Dean of the School of Law), the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning (CCNMTL), the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship, and the Copyright Advisory Office.

Columbia University Information Technology (CUIT) serves as the University’s central information technology office. It manages the University’s central computing and communications systems and provides services and support to the faculty, officers of research, students, and staff using those systems. Working in conjunction with CUIT, New York-Presbyterian IT, and other technical groups, Columbia University Medical Center Information Technology (CUMC IT) provides similar services at the Medical Center.

University Libraries

With extensive holdings of print, media, microform, electronic information, and other collections, Columbia possesses one of the largest research libraries in North America. The University Libraries’ web site,, provides quick and easy access to these collections and to the wide array of library services on which users can draw for educational and scholarly purposes.

Faculty and research officers may use the web site to access the Libraries’ online catalog, CLIO, and to search databases, e-journals, e-books, and other electronic resources. The web site is also a convenient point of entry for users interested in borrowing materials from the collections of other institutions with which the University Libraries has cooperative exchange relationships, and is a useful source of information about the resources and services of the individual libraries that make up the University Libraries system.

Columbia’s collections are housed in 25 libraries throughout the University and at affiliated institutions. Butler Library contains most of the resources for the Humanities and History and parts of the Social Sciences collection acquired before 1974. It also houses the Philip L. Milstein Family College Library, the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the University Archives, and the technical services of the University Libraries. The Herbert Lehman Library in the International and Public Affairs building is a repository for more recent Social Sciences materials. Other libraries with collections of unique depth in specialized academic fields include:

  • the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library;
  • the Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library in the Armand Hammer Health Sciences building on the Medical Center campus;
  • the Burke Library of Union Theological Seminary;
  • the Thomas J. Watson Library of Business and Economics in Uris Hall;
  • the C. V. Starr East Asian Library in Kent Hall;
  • the Journalism Library in the Journalism building;
  • the Law Library in Jerome Greene Hall;
  • the Gabe M. Wiener Music and Arts Library in Dodge Hall; and
  • the Social Work Library in the School of Social Work building.

The Science and Engineering collections are found in eight departmental libraries situated in or adjacent to the buildings used by their primary clientele:

  • Biology in the Sherman Fairchild Center;
  • Chemistry in Chandler Hall;
  • the Ambrose Monell Engineering Library in the Seeley W. Mudd building;
  • Geology in Schermerhorn Hall;
  • Geoscience located at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory;
  • Mathematics and Science in the Mathematics building;
  • Physics and Astronomy in Pupin Hall; and
  • Psychology in Schermerhorn Hall.

Approximately one-fifth of the Libraries’ collections are now housed at the University’s Offsite Shelving Facility (ReCAP), located in Plainsboro, New Jersey, which Columbia operates jointly with the New York Public Library and Princeton University. Materials at ReCAP can be requested online via CLIO. A courier service offers next business day delivery to any library on campus; journal articles and book chapters can also be delivered electronically via the web.

CLIO contains records for the materials in all of the libraries at Columbia, including the Barnard collection, with two exceptions. The Law Library and Teachers College Library have their own online catalogs, which are respectively named Pegasus and Educat. Both are accessible through the Catalogs section of the Libraries’ homepage. Within CLIO, moreover, it is possible to search across all three systems by selecting the “Search all CU catalogs” option.

Borrowing Privileges

Faculty and officers of research must present a valid University identification card to borrow materials from the libraries. Newly appointed officers who have not yet received an ID card but need to use the collections should contact the Library Information Office, located in 201 Butler Library. It can be reached by phone at (212) 854-7309 or by e-mail at

Officers may borrow materials from the libraries for varying lengths of time, depending on the collection. Most commonly, they may take out books that circulate on semester loans. Since certain collections have shorter loan periods or are noncirculating, it is advisable to contact individual libraries for information about their circulation policies.

Readers can use CLIO to renew circulating materials online, recall items that have been checked out by others, and request searches for materials that cannot be found on the library shelves. Through My Library Account at, they can see a list of books they have checked out with information on when each is due and determine the status of requests they have submitted for recalls and searches for missing materials.

Officers are expected to return borrowed materials by the date they are due. Failure to return books on time may result in fines and the suspension of borrowing privileges. Replacement costs will be charged for any lost materials.

The Libraries recalls books that are needed by others or are required for reserve. A prompt response to such notices is one of the essential obligations of a member of the University community. Failure to comply may lead to the temporary suspension of borrowing privileges.

Retired officers continue to enjoy the borrowing privileges to which they were entitled while they held an active appointment. Other officers whose appointments have ended may no longer borrow from the libraries and must return materials checked out prior to the end of their appointments.

Deputy Borrowers

Faculty and officers of research may deputize full-time students and staff members to borrow on their behalf, but they are responsible for all materials taken out in their names. To designate a deputy borrower, officers may obtain an application from the Library Information Office or apply online at

Family Privileges

Spouses and same-sex domestic partners of full-time, retired, and deceased officers can obtain a library borrower’s card from the Library Information Office. The children of full-time, retired, and deceased officers may also apply for library cards if they are in junior high school or a higher grade.

Privileges at Other Institutions

Faculty and officers of research are eligible to use the libraries of Barnard College, Teachers College, and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. They should contact those libraries for information concerning borrowing periods and circulation policies.

Columbia and New York University give on-site access to their library facilities to each other’s faculty, officers of research, students, and staff. These privileges do not include the ability to borrow materials. To use the New York University libraries, officers need to present a valid Columbia University ID card.

Columbia participates in METRO (the New York Metropolitan Reference and Research Library Agency), an organization of more than 300 academic, public, and special libraries in the New York City area committed to sharing resources. Columbia librarians can provide information on the privileges available at participating institutions and the referrals needed to use their collections.

Columbia belongs to the Research Libraries Group’s SHARES program, which includes universities and other institutions throughout the United States and abroad. Member libraries in the program provide reciprocal, on-site access to each other’s faculty, officers of research, students, and staff. In most cases there is no charge for the use of their facilities. Officers should contact a Columbia librarian or the Library Information Office for information about the other members of the SHARES program.

Borrowing Materials from Other Libraries

The University Libraries has several cooperative programs with other university and research libraries that permit readers to obtain materials that are unavailable at Columbia. These programs can all be accessed through the Request It option on the Libraries’ homepage.

BorrowDirect permits readers to search the combined catalogs of Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale and to request circulating books from these collections. Generally, books are delivered in four business days. Officers should consult for further information on BorrowDirect.

By using Interlibrary Loan (ILL), readers can search the collections of an even larger number of institutions for items that are not currently available at Columbia. In addition to the University’s primary ILL loan service, several libraries (the Law, Health Sciences, and Teachers College libraries) offer individualized services to meet the specialized needs of their patrons. To use interlibrary loan, officers should go to

Science Fast Track allows readers to obtain articles in engineering, medicine, science, and technology from journals that are not available at Columbia. The service is available at

Citation Finder offers a fast way of determining if articles are available within the University and, if not, of ordering them online from other sources. It can be accessed through the Request It option on the Libraries’ homepage,

Library Support


Subject Specialists

Library Subject Specialists have the responsibility of building the collections in specific areas and serving as liaisons to the academic departments. A list of those librarians may be found at Subject Specialists are available to help users familiarize themselves with the Libraries’ collections in their areas. They provide in-class instruction, including presentations to students on the resources relevant to a specific course. They can also develop subject guides targeted to courses or suggest specific print or electronic materials for student research. These guides can be linked to CourseWorks pages.

Purchase Recommendations

The Libraries welcomes recommendations to purchase or license materials for the collections. Subject Specialists also value the opportunity to discuss the collection with faculty and officers of research. Faculty and officers of research should contact the appropriate Subject Specialist about new materials they need for their courses and research. They may also make suggestions of online purchases by clicking on the Request It menu on the Libraries’ homepage.

Course Reserves

The Libraries will place both print and electronic versions of required course readings on reserve. Faculty should be aware that the Libraries follow current U.S. copyright law, including the fair use provisions. Reserve books circulate for limited periods of time, usually two hours or overnight. When available, full text electronic reserves are accessible online to those registered in the class, either through CLIO’s Course Reserves search option or the individual course web pages on CourseWorks.

Before each term faculty and academic departments will receive a notice from the Libraries requesting lists of materials to be placed on reserve. Faculty should submit their lists by the due date specified to ensure that the materials are ready for the term. Information on reserve procedures is available on the Libraries’ web site by accessing Course Reserves at

Electronic Text Service (ETS)

Located in Butler Library, the Electronic Text Service (ETS) is a research and instructional facility that helps faculty, officers of research, and students incorporate computer-based textual and bibliographic information into their research, study, and teaching. Information on its services is available at ETS resources include machine-readable primary source texts, software programs for textual analysis and critical editing, and hypermedia and database research tools. It also has both IBM and Macintosh microcomputers and optical scanning equipment for the creation of machine-readable text. Its staff will provide demonstrations, workshops, and classes for students and faculty, as well as individual consultations.

Electronic Data Service (EDS)

Run jointly by the University Libraries and CUIT, the Electronic Data Service (EDS) supports instruction and research that involve numeric and geo-spatial data resources. In addition, EDS offers classroom instruction, workshops, individualized training, and other consulting services in support of the use of its technologies. Its staff can provide assistance over the web, via e-mail, or in person at its office located in Lehman Library. More information on its resources and services can be found at

Butler Media Center (BMC)

The Butler Media Center (BMC) provides a quiet area, with multiple workstations, in which faculty, officers of research, students, and staff can view materials held in the Butler Media Collections. All of the titles in the Collections can be found in CLIO. Faculty can reserve titles from the Collections for class screenings. The BMC also has digital video editing stations, which individuals can use for the development of multimedia presentations. Further information on the BMC is available at

Ask a Librarian

Librarians are available to provide assistance in identifying resources, using the collections, and explaining the many services the Libraries offers. Users can obtain assistance on site at the search desks of the individual libraries or by scheduling a consultation with a librarian. They can also telephone, e-mail, and instant message librarians for help. To contact a librarian or learn more about how to obtain assistance, users should consult the Ask Us web site at

The Libraries offers free workshops on the use of a wide range of electronic information resources and software tools available through the Libraries’ web site, CLIO, and the Internet. These workshops are structured to help faculty, officers of research, students, and staff make efficient use of the Libraries’ online resources. A complete schedule of the workshops may be found at

Practical information on using the resources and services of the Libraries is also available from a searchable list of frequently asked questions under the Using the Libraries menu on the Libraries’ homepage at


Faculty and officers of research who wish to offer a private collection to the Libraries may consult with a Subject Specialist or with the Acquisitions Department at (212) 854-3532. The Libraries do not accept materials that are outside the scope of their collections, are very costly to maintain or control, or come with special restrictions or conditions. In general, they also prefer to select items from the materials offered, rather than accepting an entire collection. While the Libraries will provide acknowledgments of gifts, Internal Revenue Service regulations prevent library staff from giving formal appraisals.

Last Revised November 2008


Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning

The Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning (CCNMTL) seeks to enhance teaching and learning at the University through the purposeful use of new media and digital technologies. To further that goal, it provides faculty with a broad range of support from constructing course web sites to the development of innovative educational tools that facilitate the use of information in new ways. It works in partnership with the faculty and in cooperation with other offices and service organizations within the University. It also seeks to promote faculty understanding of the potential benefits of new media technologies and to contribute to the strategic planning at the University on how they can best be utilized.

The Center provides a supportive environment for faculty who wish to employ multimedia technology to enhance their courses. With their combination of technical expertise and pedagogical training, its Educational Technologists can offer advice, direction, and support through individual consultations, regularly scheduled workshops, a lab where faculty can develop digital content for their courses and course web sites, and information about the work being done in other centers within the University and at other institutions.

The Center provides assistance in utilizing CourseWorks, the University’s course management system. Faculty can use CourseWorks to create syllabi, post course materials, communicate with students through bulletin boards, organize electronic discussion and study groups, create links to the University Libraries’ reserves and digital resources, and post and grade tests online. They can, moreover, update the resources they post on CourseWorks over the course of a term as the needs and the capacities of their students evolve.

When faculty wish to use the new media and digital technologies in a manner that is not supported by CourseWorks, CCNMTL will help them design and execute projects that achieve their pedagogical goals. Center projects start with the faculty submitting a proposal, using a form that is available at Possible projects can include visualization and modeling tools, real-time data collection tools, data-sharing programs, annotation tools, media archives, training environments, simulations, and multimedia study environments. Projects should facilitate student inquiry; emphasize collaboration, interaction, and activities that develop research skills; and promote better communication among faculty and students.

The CCNMTL has locations in 204 Butler Library and at the Medical Center campus on the second floor of the State Armory. Further information about the Center and the support it can provide is available on its web site at

Last Revised November 2008


Center for Digital Research and Scholarship

Columbia’s Center for Digital Research and Scholarship advances the use of new media and digital technologies in research and scholarly communications. The Center conducts research, engages in project development, and provides consulting services in the areas of electronic publishing, scholarly communication policy and practice, scholarly database development, Columbia’s research repository, web site development, and design and video services.

Last Revised November 2008


Columbia University Information Technology

The Columbia University Information Technology Office (CUIT) operates the Morningside campus network; manages Columbia’s wireless and high-speed Ethernet connections to the Internet; supports Columbia’s web sites; supervises computer labs, electronic classrooms, and public workstations on the Morningside campus; and manages the University’s telecommunication services and its relationships with cellular carriers. It also assists members of the University community in meeting their academic computing and information needs with a wide variety of services, including e-mail at no cost, time-sharing on a central server, data services, training, consulting, and assistance with the development of web pages.

This section of the Handbook provides an overview of the most important of CUIT’s services. Officers may obtain a more detailed description at Assistance is also available from the Computing Help Line at (212) 854-1919 or in the CUIT Client Service Center in 102 Philosophy Hall.


CUIT operates the University’s central computing systems as well as clusters of public computer printers. A group of central computers, called the CUNIX cluster, provides instructional and research computing, e-mail, network access, and information services for faculty, officers of research, students, and staff. Faculty and other officers are entitled to free UNI accounts, which provide e-mail, access to computer labs and the Internet, and disk storage space. They may establish their accounts through the CUIT web site at

Computer labs and terminals located at various sites on the Morningside campus also support instructional and student computing needs. The major computing platforms used at these locations are Microsoft Windows workstations, Apple Macintosh workstations, and Linux kiosks. CUIT computer clusters provide basic access 24 hours a day to e-mail, word processing, ColumbiaNet, CUNIX cluster, and other campus information services, in addition to a wide range of commonly used commercial software programs. For information on the computer labs and terminals, and their locations, individuals should consult

Faculty may also take advantage of multimedia classrooms that are equipped with state-of-the-art technologies, including high-speed connections to the Internet. In addition to maintaining the equipment in the classrooms, CUIT provides training and ongoing support in their use. Information on the classrooms may be found on the CUIT web site at

Support Services

CUIT provides members of the University with a variety of ways to obtain help. Users may call the Computing Help Line, (212) 854-1919, for immediate assistance or send electronic mail to, where questions are usually answered within 24 hours. They can go to the Morningside CUIT Client Service Center in 102 Philosophy Hall for personal assistance with questions or problems about personal computing or telecommunications. Consultants are also available in many computer labs to answer questions.

The Support Center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays, and from noon to 5 p.m. on Fridays. The Help Line is staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. A separate Telecommunications Help Desk is available at (212) 854-0000 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, to help with telecommunication problems.

CUIT also offers short courses, in-class presentations, and other forms of training that provide basic network literacy and more advanced instruction in instructional and research computing.


CUIT operates the Morningside campus network, providing high-speed access in many University apartments as well as campus buildings and from remote locations via dedicated links. CUIT also provides wireless Internet access in many buildings and outdoor areas on the Morningside campus and operates a pool of modems that provides dial-up access to the Columbia network. Information on connecting to the network is available on the CUIT web site at


In partnership with the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning, CUIT manages CourseWorks@Columbia, the University’s course management system. Faculty and students can use CourseWorks to obtain course materials, download syllabi, access library reserves, maintain course web sites, distribute class materials, link to online reserves, administer quizzes and tests, communicate with students, and conduct online discussions.

Student Services Online (SSOL) is a partnership of the Division of Student Services and CUIT. It allows faculty to submit grades and generate classroom rosters electronically, while permitting students to register, add and drop classes, view grades, request transcripts, update personal information, and review their billing and financial aid information.

CUIT also supports a variety of administrative applications. These include the Research and Compliance System (RASCAL), AP/CAR, DARTS, FFE, FAS, People@Columbia (PAC), and many others. Descriptions and information on access are available through the CUIT web site at

Computer Use Policy

CUIT has adopted a series of policies to govern the use and security of its systems. Those policies may be found at

Users of CUIT facilities are expected to be familiar with these policies. Violations can lead to the suspension of computer accounts. CUIT refers serious violations to the appropriate academic or outside legal authorities. The penalties for improper use of CUIT facilities may be as severe as suspension or dismissal from the University and criminal prosecution.

Last Revised November 2008


Columbia University Medical Center Information Technology

Columbia University Medical Center Information Technology (CUMC IT) provides information technology support and resources for the Medical Center campus. It acts as an umbrella organization for the primary information technology groups at the Medical Center, including the Information Commons service desk, on-site technicians, and application, project, and server support. CUMC IT also oversees the Web Design Studio; CORE Resources and Network Security in conjunction with New York-Presbyterian Hospital; and the Center for Biomedical Communications for audio-visual and other multimedia communications support.

This section of the Handbook summarizes the support and services CUMC IT provides. More information can be found at

The Information Commons

The Information Commons (IC) serves as a centralized point of contact for members of the Medical Center community in need of technical assistance with computing equipment. It also provides infrastructure support for classrooms in the Medical Center. Its services include support and troubleshooting for Columbia e-mail accounts; connectivity for the secure wired and wireless campus networks; applications used at the Medical Center, including CUIT-managed programs such as AP/CAR and FFE; network storage; and other forms of assistance with information technology and applications.

The Information Commons seeks to resolve problems at the time they are first brought to its attention. Its initial troubleshooting services are available for free to the members of the Medical Center community. When necessary, it will provide technical support in collaboration with other technical groups in CUMC IT as well as other information technology departments throughout Columbia University and New York-Presbyterian Hospital. It also offers free computer classes on a variety of topics and provides web-based and print tutorials. More information on these services can be found at

The Information Commons operates seven days a week, and can be contacted by calling (212) 305-4357 (from the Medical Center campus: 5-HELP) or by e-mail at Its hours are posted at In addition, anyone with an Internet connection can contact a technician online for immediate help by logging into CUMC IT eSupport at, a tool that allows its technicians to connect to users’ computers and thereby provide instant troubleshooting assistance. The Information Commons also maintains a walk-in desk on the second floor of the Hammer Health Sciences building, but faculty, officers of research, students, and staff are encouraged to contact the service desk by phone or eSupport to facilitate an initial diagnosis of their problems.

Other Support Services

In addition to the Information Commons, additional groups within CUMC IT support the use of information technology within the Medical Center:

  • Service on Site offers field technicians for on-site visits to fix faculty, staff, and student computing problems that cannot be resolved over the phone or via eSupport.
  • The Server Support group provides network storage, domain accounts, network printing capabilities, data backup and restoration services, server management, and consulting on server-related issues.
  • Technology Project Management provides technical support with the installation and modification of information systems, including the relocation of workstations and multiple installations, the upgrade of operating systems and migration to a new domain, the setup and support of remote locations, and the setup of wireless access to the network.
  • The Web Design Studio offers assistance with the development and hosting of web sites. The Studio can help users meet a wide variety of online needs, from site design and updating to programming, interactive calendars and bulletin boards, and secured internal sites.

Details and contact information for each of these groups can be found at


The CORE Resources Group manages the high-speed wired and wireless campus networks for both the Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian Hospital. To protect patient data and comply with HIPAA regulations, all computers connecting to the wired network must first be registered according to the instructions outlined at

The campus wireless network is available at various locations within the Medical Center. Information on the areas where it can be used and on how to configure a computer to take advantage of it can be found at A valid UNI account is required to connect to both the wireless and wired networks.


CUMC IT maintains public computing clusters at several locations within the Medical Center: the Hammer Health Sciences Library lobby, the second floor of the Hammer building, and the Presbyterian Hospital (PH17) computer labs. The computers, which are available on a first-come, first-served basis, are equipped with software for word processing, analyzing data, graphics, and curriculum support, along with additional applications. All computers are connected to CUMC’s high-speed wired network and the NINJa laserjet printing system. There are also scanners available on the second floor of the Hammer building. The PH17 lab is open from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. everyday, and there is a 24-hour computer lounge at the entrance to the Library. All other Hammer computer clusters are available during the Health Sciences Library’s and the Information Commons’ hours of operation. More details on these facilities can be found at

Computer Classes and Software

CUMC IT offers free classes related to technology use and training on specific software programs. A complete list can be found at getting_help/classes.html.

The University has acquired several site licenses for software, including the Microsoft Office Suite and Symantec (Norton) Antivirus, which faculty, officers of research, students, and staff can download onto their computers at no charge. In addition, they may purchase statistical software at a discount. A list of the available software packages and instructions on how to download and install them are available at

Computer and Network Policies

The Medical Center has adopted policies on computing and network usage that are more stringent than those of the University due to the shared use of the CUMC network by New York-Presbyterian Hospital and the requirements of HIPAA for protecting patient data. Everyone at the Medical Center is expected to follow them in addition to the general policies of the University. Failure to do so can lead to legal penalties as well as to the immediate loss of network connectivity, other business sanctions, and academic disciplinary action up to and including termination of appointment. Information on the Medical Center’s policies can be found at

Last Revised October 2012
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Introduction Organization and Governance of the University Officers of Instruction Officers of Research Benefits and Family Services
Obligations and Responsibilities of Officers of Instruction and Research Student Officers of Instruction and Research Visiting Scholars/Scientists and Seminar Associates
University Libraries and Information Services University Resources and Services Appendices