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September 1, 2011

Pitt phone directories being phased out

The University’s telephone directory is going the way of party lines and pay phones. The 2011-12 edition of the book will be the last to appear in print form as Pitt phases out its phone books.

Fewer copies of this year’s book are being printed, and instead of being delivered University-wide, they will be sent on request, said Brian Hart of Computing Services and Systems Development.

Some 15,000 copies were printed last year, but CSSD has cut the print run to 5,000 for the edition that is expected to become available sometime around Thanksgiving, Hart said. Next year, the printed directory will be eliminated altogether.

“Enthusiasm for the printed books seems to be reduced,” Hart said, noting that making the books available by request will reduce the number of copies that end up being discarded.

He had no estimate of the amount of savings to the University. While printing fewer copies will cut the publication costs roughly in half, he said the bigger motivator was to reduce waste.

“Years ago, the directory was the way to get information to people,” he said. That’s no longer the case as users increasingly turn to online sources that are more convenient and often more current.

The largest section of the directory — faculty and staff listings — already is available through Pitt’s online “Find People” function. A searchable, browsable directory that would contain departmental listings is in the works to supplement it, Hart said.

Other information, he said, “is all available elsewhere or could be easily added on units’ sites.” For instance, maps that appear in the general campus information section of the directory can be found in the Pitt Fact Book or on regional campus web sites.

Hart said the changes are user-driven. “If there were high demand for paper-based phone books, we would respond,” he said.

“Most people have moved away from looking for paper-based sources of information.”

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 44 Issue 1

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