The Gottesman Libraries remained virtually open, with continuing provision of digital resources and services to meet the needs of students, faculty, and scholars, and it physically opened September 1st, with regular business hours under a modified operations plan, the result of carefully coordinated Summer planning in response to global pandemic. The Fall 2020 Education Program strengthened remote teaching, learning, and research, with a positive focus on instructional offerings, both librarian-mediated and self-directed. We grow through our efforts to bind community with a certain logic, method, meaning, poetic sense -- rhyme and reason in a hopeful time.
In collaboration with Graduate Student Life and Development, we experienced a first-ever virtual opening of the new academic year, met with record attendance and a host of questions from eager participants at New Student Orientation. Virtual library tours incorporated original video production to guide members through the floors of the Gottesman Libraries, as we described essential resources and services. Throughout the semester we provided online workshops on topics germane to all TC students: Research A-Z; What Kind of Researcher Are You?; Get Lit! Conducting the Review; Show Me the Money: Grant Seeking Tips and Tools; Finding and Using Children's Literature; Zotero (three sessions); Mendeley (three sessions); Who's Citing Whom?; The Lit Review, Revisited; and Zotero or Mendeley?
Inspired by Newseum, we kept current with affairs and curated daily postings of news from around the world -- with informing headlines and applications for learning in the broadest sense. We continued to promote awareness of historical events on a variety of interesting topics, often in connection with the history of our institution. The Today In History series featured selections drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers, supplemented by books and archival materials from the library's collections. The topics were: Titanic Is Found; International Literacy Day; Constitution Day; Alma Thomas Is Born; Nicholas Murray Butler Becomes President; Alice Dalgliesh Is Born; MLK, Jr. Wins the Nobel Peace Prize; John Dewey Was Born; NYC City Opens; Dedication of the Gottesman Libraries; Louisa May Alcott Publishes The Rival Painters; Elizabethan Era Begins; Origin of Species Is Published; Shirley Chisholm Is Born; SmallPox Is Declared Eradicated; Jane Austen Is Born; and Winter Solstice.
To prompt exploration and greater usage of library resources, we highlighted research databases on themes relevant to academic programs, departments, and offerings of Teachers College: Key Resources for Research (September); Urban Education (October); Harlem Renaissance 100 (November), in support of Creating a Better World: TC Celebrates the Harlem Renaissance, including the Harlem Renaissance Drawing App, and Holidays and Celebrations (December) happily rounding off the semester.
In coordination with the African Studies Working Group and George Clement Bond Center for African Education, we promoted a short series of virtual book talks for debut novel, She Would Be King, by TC alumna Wayétu Moore. The "Buddy Read" comprised in-depth discussions for Part I and Part II of the book, while the culminating event featured the author who added greater depth through sharing of her professional experience and insight into writing.
For Everett Cafe online book displays, we curated and displayed a new collection every few weeks that related to current affairs, education, or learning environments. The chosen topics were: Remote Learning: Shifting to the New Normal (September-October, with blog); Strength In Cities: Lessons From the Urban Landscape (October-November, with blog); and Coming Together: Post-Election (November-December, with blog).
Staff Picks highlighted educational topics and themes of special interest: Education and Race, curated by Annette Mims (September); Children's Books: An E-Book Retrospective, by Rachel Altvater (October); Music As Medicine, by Emily Reo (November): Education and the Martian Frontier, by Anika Paris (December).
As we harvested virtual educational opportunities in the Fall, we introduced new onsite services. Select staff returned to Russell Hall, focusing on the delivery of high impact services: Reading and Quiet Study Space (Fourth Floor), ensuring all safety protocols, including quarantine of books; Paging and Pick Up, with materials retrieved from the Stacks and delivered to curbside; and Digital Delivery, the scanning of small portions of printed resources for personal use. Staff tackled significant collection projects: comprehensive shelf reading of the Tower Stacks; detailed review of research, curriculum/children's literature, and archival collections for the expanded mold remediation project; clean up and sorting of orphaned book carts, as well as staff spaces; and inventory of the library's framed art collections, with approved plans for art conservation storage and the construction of more units.
Additional art-related projects included collaboration with commissioned artists Renata de Gaui and Francesca Sewaya, Warping the Future (2020 Gottesman Libraries Art Commission), in both physical and virtual forms; selection of research-level digital monographs in art and art education; call for and review of proposals for the 2021 Gottesman Libraries Art Commission; and archival research and proposal for the renovation of the Tudor Room, located at 271 Grace Dodge, with application of the Colonel Eugene E. Myers Trust. We re-arranged historical oil portraiture in Russell 104b, with a plan for hanging remaining portraits. In September we joined faculty and staff from several participating institutions to share the work we accomplished through generous support of the Myers Trust in 2019-2020.
We researched practices in digital asset management and contributed to planning with the TC working group, weighing in on long-term considerations for the integration, discovery, and care of curated digital collections. We participated in established library committees at Columbia University to inform and guide coordination of effort: Working Recovery Group, for campus wide library reopening policies and practices; Collections Forum, for the development and management of collections; Unified Discovery, on technical concerns and strategies for organizing and making information more findable; Access Services, Planning, and Strategy, for practices and policies governing library privileges and circulation of resources; and most recently, Learning and Reference Support Strategies, for best methods of advising patrons on their research and information needs (starting late January).
Together with the Office of Access and Services for Individuals and Teachers College Information Technology, we developed a new policy on Library Accessibility, which includes the objective of guides for using accommodations in library resources. Also with TC IT we onboarded for a new Integrated Library System, prepping to migrate from Innovative Interfaces, Inc.'s Sierra, to the new cloud-based Exlibris products, Alma-Primo-Leganto by the end of 2021.
In early December, we provided an update on our work, March-November, for the Teachers College Trustees. We focused on key accomplishments during COVID-19, from the transition to a remote workplace that embraced digital resources, services, and coordination with College and Campus, to the return onsite, referencing a new framework for the Gottesman Libraries.
"You may not see it now," said the Princess of Pure Reason, looking knowingly at Milo's puzzled face, "but whatever we learn has a purpose and whatever we do affects everything and everyone else, if even in the tiniest way. Why, when a housefly flaps his wings, a breeze goes round the world; when a speck of dust falls to the ground, the entire planet weighs a little more; and when you stamp your foot, the earth moves slightly off its course. Whenever you laugh, gladness spreads like the ripples in the pond; and whenever you're sad, no one anywhere can be really happy. And it's much the same thing with knowledge, for whenever you learn something new, the whole world becomes that much richer."
... And remember, also," added the Princess of Sweet Rhyme, "that many places you would like to see are just off the map and many things you want to know are just out of sight or a little beyond your reach. But someday you'll reach them all, for what you learn today, for no reason at all, will help you discover all the wonderful secrets of tomorrow."
-- Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth (p. 233-234)
- Sea Harvest, by Alex Simpson, from The Ziegfeld Collection of International Children's Art, Courtesy of the Gottesman Libraries, Teachers College, Columbia University
- Flower Crown, Courtesy of ClipArtBest.com