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When Professor Emeritus Tefko Saracevic of the School of Communication and Information retired in 2010, he left a legacy by creating an endowed scholarship. His $100,000 gift supports doctoral students in library and information science, a field Saracevic—who now teaches online courses to Rutgers graduate students—calls crucial in our transition to the Information Age.

In your quarter-century at Rutgers, what major changes occurred in your field?
The internet, in the 1980s, and the World Wide Web, in the 1990s, changed the world. Online resources available for searching, browsing, and use proliferated beyond anybody’s expectation. Then, as information resources became global, so did searching. But one basic thing remains: people search for relevant information. Making resources and processes more effective and efficient in retrieval of relevant information remains a challenge.

What change has posed the biggest challenge? How has the field responded?
More than anything else, technology has affected the development of information science. As social institutions that for millennia have dealt with organizing, preserving, and communicating records of human knowledge, libraries are faced with the necessity of adjusting to new technologies. Accordingly, most libraries, particularly in academe, are now hybrids that incorporate the physical and the virtual. In a major—not evolutionary, but revolutionary—way, digital libraries provide the answer.

Why did you establish the endowment?
I came to America from Croatia in 1959 and worked in a factory for two and a half years; I then continued my schooling to enter the field of information science, and got a scholarship to continue my Ph.D. studies. This country and this field gave me an opportunity. Rutgers then provided me with a great place to work, debate, discuss, engage in research and teaching, and even enjoy myself. I wish to give students at least a bit of a similar chance and opportunity.

Why is it important for professors to give back?
An endowment contributes to what we, as professors, worked for all our lives: advances in our field. Now, my students have students who are graduating; this is like having grandchildren.

Originally published in Rutgers alumni magazine.


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