Textbook Heroes: William Finn

Welcome to our series recognizing champions of free and affordable course materials at Touro! These “Textbook Heroes” have made a difference in the lives of our students by lowering the cost of their degrees. Do you know someone who fits the bill? Nominate them (or yourself) by contacting the Libraries.

Since 2020, Prof. Finn has saved his students approximately $15,085 by teaching with open educational resources (OER) rather than costly, commercial textbooks!

Who are you? Tell us more about you and the course you teach. 

I am William Finn, an Adjunct Professor in the NYSCAS Business and Accounting Department. I have taught management and marketing courses in almost all the Touro locations  in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. 

Describe your previous textbooks and what your class was like. 

Previously, I used the standard textbooks; however, in the last few years with the availability of quality OER textbooks, I have made it a practice to research the availability of free OER textbooks before assigning a text for any course. I have found, especially for level 100 and 200 courses in business, there were some excellent free textbooks. 

Describe your students’ reactions to the open textbook – content and/or cost. 

My students really appreciated the OER textbooks. For many of the students the cost of a textbook is a major expense. With the OER textbook, we can all be literally on the same page. 

What would you say to other faculty members who are considering switching to OER? 

I encourage all my colleagues, with the help of our excellent Touro Library Staff, to research the OER textbooks in your discipline before assigning a text for your class.  

Library Staff Profile: Emma Larson-Whittaker

Emma Larson-Whittaker, Library Assistant, Starrett City.

Welcome to the latest in our series of Staff Profiles. Emma Larson-Whittaker recently joined the Touro community as Library Assistant at the Starrett City Library. Emma was kind enough to answer some questions for us below:

Where were you born? 

I was born in Washington DC 

Where else have you lived? 

I lived in coastal Maine for the majority of my childhood, until I moved to Carlisle, Pennsylvania for most of college. During the first six months of the pandemic I lived in Phoenix, Arizona with my brother, and then my senior year of college I virtually attended from Pittsburg, PA. I currently live on the Upper East Side. 

What languages do you speak? 

English, as well as conversational Italian. If not for COVID, I would likely be more proficient, as I was sent home from my semester abroad in Florence in March of 2020. 

What fields have you studied and/or degrees have you earned? 

I have a BA in Art History and Italian Studies, as well as an Early Modern History certificate from Dickinson College. 

What is your ideal vacation? 

Hanging out at the beach with a fruity drink in hand. 

Any hobbies? 

Knitting and roller skating. 

Favorite food? 

Kimchi ramen.

My favorite book I’ve read so far this year? 

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner. 

Thanks, Emma, and welcome to Touro!

Library Staff Profile: Christine Leddy

Christine Leddy, Librarian, Health Sciences Library – Central Islip 

Welcome to the latest in our series of Staff Profiles. Christine Leddy recently joined the Touro community as Librarian at the Health Sciences Library, which serves the School of Health Sciences and the Graduate School of Education and Psychology. Christine answered some questions for us below:

Where were you born? 

I was born in Brooklyn, New York. My family moved to Long Island when I was four years old, and I grew up in the town of South Farmingdale. 

Where else have you lived? 

My husband and I have been raising our three children in the beautiful hamlet of Bohemia for the past 17 years. 

What languages do you speak? 

I speak English, although I’ve formally studied Spanish and Italian. Additionally, my daughter and I have spent many hours together self-teaching Sign Language. 

What fields have you studied and/or degrees have you earned? 

I have an MLS in Library and Information Science from Long Island University. I also have a Bachelor’s in Childhood Education and Social Sciences, and New York State Teacher Certification in Elementary Education. I have taught in the classroom, both in person and virtually, to students from Kindergarten through the collegiate levels. 

What is your ideal vacation?   

While my ideal vacation includes sun, sand, and piles of books, I also love to visit Theatre and museums, the Bronx Zoo, and Disney World. 

Any hobbies?   

My favorite hobbies include playing board/card games with my family, cooking and baking, arts and crafts, reading and listening to music, and playtime with my dog. One craft in particular that is a favorite of mine is crocheting soft and cozy blankets for shelter animals – the shelters are extremely grateful for the donations (and, I would imagine, so are the dogs and cats!) 

Favorite food? 

Cannolis. 

Tell us one thing about yourself that most of us probably don’t know. 

I love a good Horror movie! The creepier, the better. 

Thanks, Christine, and welcome to Touro!

Who is that masked man? Happy Purim!

image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Book of Esther, Hebrew, c. 1700-1800 AD - Royal Ontario Museum - DSC09614.JPG •Uploaded by Daderot Created: November 20, 2011
image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Book of Esther, Hebrew, c. 1700-1800 AD – Royal Ontario Museum – DSC09614.JPG  Uploaded by Daderot Created: November 20, 2011

[this post, by Toby Krausz, Judaica Librarian, was written in 2019 and has been updated for publication March, 2022]

On the night of Wednesday, March 16th, after having fasted all day Jews all over the world will gather in synagogues, houses of worship, places of study, and sometimes in their own homes to hear the story of Purim.

A long time ago when the empire of Persia and Medea ruled the world, all citizens of the capital city of Shushan were called to a feast at the king’s palace. Though the leader of the Jewish community, a very wise man named Mordechai, advised against it, the Jews of Shushan felt they had no choice but to obey the king’s decree. This feast was the beginning of a series of events that would lead King Achashverosh (Ahasuerus or Xerxes in English), to stamp and seal a terrible decree on the suggestion of his wicked advisor, Haman (a direct descendant of the ancient Jewish enemy Amalek): all Jews in the kingdom were to be slaughtered on the fourteenth day of the upcoming Hebrew month of Adar. Men, women, and children would be destroyed, no survivors. The Jews of the kingdom gathered in prayer under the guidance of their leader Mordechai. They donned sackcloth and ashes in mourning. But the Jewish people had a secret weapon, one that had been put in place sometime earlier: Mordechai’s niece, Esther, had been chosen out of all the beauties in the kingdom to marry King Achashverosh. Queen Esther lived modestly in the palace, keeping her Jewish identity and faith secret, but in this, she had no choice but to act. When she heard of the decree, she fasted and prayed for three days. Then Queen Esther went before the king without being summoned. This was a selfless, extraordinarily brave act that would lead to her death unless Achashverosh stretched out his scepter in welcome. Miraculously, he did.

Image Courtesy of WikiMedia Commons File:Purim, 1724.jpg Uploaded by Jonund Created: August 17, 2004
Image Courtesy of WikiMedia Commons File:Purim, 1724.jpg, Uploaded by Jonund Created: August 17, 2004. Illustration of the megillah being read from Juedisches Ceremoniel, a German book published in Nürnberg in 1724 by Peter Conrad Monath. The book is a beautifully illustrated description of Jewish religious ceremonies, rites of passage and feast days.

Esther had devised a plan: all Jews would fast and pray with her as she invited the King and the wicked Haman to a party. During the party, King Achashverosh was so struck by Esther’s beauty that he offered her anything, “up to half the kingdom.” She asked that he and Haman attend the party she would make tomorrow-then she would make her true request. That notorious night, the King could not sleep. Wondering why, he asked for the royal chronicles to be read, thinking that perhaps he owed someone a favor and that was subconsciously bothering him. He discovered that he did: part of the series of events leading to the terrible decree included Mordechai saving King Achashverosh’s life from an assassination plot. The King realized he had never rewarded the righteous Jew for saving his life.

Coincidentally, on the way home from the party Haman passed Mordechai and was incensed that Mordechai refused to bow in respect to him like everyone else. Haman was so angry he decided he could not wait for Adar: he would build a gallows and hang Mordechai on it, first thing in the morning. He began construction immediately on said gallows and ran to the king in the middle of the night to ask permission for a public execution. Before Haman could make his request, however, the king asked his top advisor what Haman thought should be done to the man whom the king wishes to honor. Thinking that man was naturally himself, Haman suggested he don the royal robes and crown, riding the king’s own horse through the capital city of Shushan, with an attendant declaring before him, “Thus shall be done to the man whom the king wishes to honor!” (Haman had a certain enemy of his in mind when he came up with that last bit) To his shock and horror, the king declared Mordechai was to be honored in this manner, with Haman leading the way and doing the proclaiming. This act gave the Jews of Shushan hope. When Haman finally arrived home after this humiliating experience, he was immediately called back to the palace for Esther’s party. During the party, Esther revealed her identity and her request: her own life and the lives of her people. King Achashverosh raged and demanded to know who would kill his own queen (perhaps the wine he drank at the party gave him selective memory). Esther pointed straight at Haman. The plot was foiled. The Jews were saved.

Image courtesy of WikiMedia Commons. Ahasuerus and Haman at Esther's Feast, by Rembrandt, File:Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn - Ahasuerus, Haman and Esther - Google Art Project.jpg, Uploaded by DcoetzeeBot.
Image courtesy of WikiMedia Commons. Ahasuerus and Haman at Esther’s Feast, by Rembrandt, File:Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn – Ahasuerus, Haman, and Esther – Google Art Project.jpg, Uploaded by DcoetzeeBot.

In a miraculous twist of events, Haman and his ten sons were hanged on the gallows prepared for Mordechai. All Haman’s estates were given to Queen Esther. Mordechai was made second to the King and the decree was reversed: on the fourteenth of Adar, the day we now celebrate the holiday of Purim, named for the pur, or lots (as in gambling) that Haman threw to determine the month the destruction would take place, the Jews now had permission to turn the tables and wipe out all their enemies.

To commemorate the story of this miracle, Esther’s parties, and the idea that all became topsy-turvy that day, we hear the Megillas Esther (the book of Esther) read aloud twice, give each other gifts of food, dress in costumes and have a celebratory seudah, a meal with bread, meat, and wine. Among other traditions, we give matanos l’evyonim, gifts to the poor. The whole month of Adar is considered a time of joy.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. CC BY 2.5, File:2 Mishloach Manot.jpg, Uploaded by Yoninah, Uploaded: March 21, 2006.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. CC BY 2.5, File:2 Mishloach Manot.jpg, Uploaded by Yoninah, Uploaded: March 21, 2006.

So when you see a whole bunch of people in costume carrying baskets of food, and singing and dancing in the streets come Thursday, March 17th, you now know why. Wish them a freilichen Purim and remember to put Haman’s name on the bottom of your shoe so we can symbolically stamp out unfounded hatred for all generations to come.

Happy Purim!

All information in this post came from my own knowledge of the story of Purim. For more information, visit Encyclopaedia Judaica’s entry on Purim

or take a look at some of the books in our collection about this holiday:

Purim and the Persian Empire: a historical, archaeological, & geographical perspective / Yehuda Landy

The Purim anthology / Philip Goodman

Purim, or the Feast of Esther: a historical study / by N.S. Doniach

Purim = [Purim]: Purim, its observance and significance: a presentation based on Talmudic and traditional sources / compiled by Avie Gold ; overview by Nosson Scherman

Contributed by Toby Krausz, Judaica Librarian.

Happy New Year 2022!

2021 was another year of challenges and adjustments that the Touro community met head-on with resolve and perseverance. Facing the new year, we at Touro College Libraries look forward to helping promote information literacy and offering research support to our whole academic community. The Libraries would like to wish all Touro College and University System students, faculty, and staff a happy and healthy New Year!

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

We look forward to seeing you on campus and online in 2022!

In the meantime we invite you to connect with the Library on social media for the latest updates and tips.

Freaking Out About Finals? Help and Tips Are Here!

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

It’s finals time at Touro. Here are a few tips for changing up your study routines, maximizing your ability to retain information, and using library resources you may not have known about, to ace those finals!

Interweave/mix up your subjects– Studying subjects in smaller chunks of time is more effective than marathon study sessions focusing on a single subject. Even if your deadline is fast-approaching and some “cramming” is necessary, take small breaks from one project to focus on another. Science suggests this forces the brain to recognize the similarities and differences among the things you’re trying to learn, giving you a deeper understanding of the material (Kornell & Bjork, 2008).

If it feels like you are losing progress by needing to review a little bit to get back into the swing of things where you previously left off, you’re actually not! It is precisely this forgetting and re-learning process that helps the mind better learn and retain the material.

Change up your study location- A similar principle applies to your physical surroundings. If you’ve been working a long time in one spot, try moving to a different location- a different room in your apartment, or a different table on the other side of the library. The change in surrounding can refresh your mind. In one classic experiment, “psychologists found that college students who studied a list of 40 vocabulary words in two different rooms — one windowless and cluttered, the other modern, with a view on a courtyard — did far better on a test than students who studied the words twice, in the same room. Later studies have confirmed the finding, for a variety of topics.” (Carey, 2010)

Use these research and writing tools from Touro Libraries-

  • See our For Students guide for help and guidance for all stages of the research process, including selecting a topic, finding materials, and using sources in your writing.
  • Check out our Creating Citations guide for detailed information on how to properly cite any type of source in APA, MLA and all major styles.
  • Use the RefWorks citation manager to conveniently manage the citations for all of your writing projects. RefWorks helps you save, track, and properly cite your sources. It will even help output your sources into a Works Cited page or bibliography. Easily sign up with your Touro email address and find comprehensive training from RefWorks on YouTube.

Ask for help- Use the Libraries’ Ask-a-Librarian chat service to instant message with a librarian for real time assistance.

References

Carey, Benedict. (2010, Sep 6). Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/

Kornell, N., & Bjork, R. A. (2008). Learning concepts and categories: Is spacing the “enemy of induction”? Psychological Science, 19(6), 585-592. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02127.x

-this post contributed by Kirk Snyder, Open Educational REsources & Instruction Librarian.

Textbook Heroes: David Nussbaum

Assistant Professor David Nussbaum

Welcome to our series recognizing champions of free and affordable course materials at Touro! These “Textbook Heroes” have made a difference in the lives of our students by lowering the cost of their degrees. Do you know someone who fits the bill? Nominate them (or yourself) by contacting the Libraries.

Who are you? Tell us more about you and the course you teach.

I’m David Nussbaum, an assistant professor at Touro in the Speech and Communications department.

I used an OER in Public Speaking for the first time this summer. Public speaking is both a content and performance-oriented course. The content includes areas such as outlining, presentation aids, use of language, persuasion. The performance element is of course the student speeches themselves.

Describe your previous textbooks and what your class was like.

The previous textbook for Public Speaking covered one area per chapter in some detail. It included numerous pictures and sidebars as well as checklists. Additionally, there were online instructor resources such as PowerPoint presentations and an extensive online instructor manual. Students related well to the book and materials.

Why did you want to switch to an open textbook?

The primary considerations were 1) the entire book being online and immediately available and 2) the course being self-contained on Canvas through either a link to the text or sections added to modules with nothing additional for students to buy with no sacrifice in quality. The book I am using has quality auxiliary materials such as PowerPoint presentations, question banks and participatory review quizzes – definitely a deciding factor.

How has your class changed since you switched to an open textbook? [Student performance? Motivation? Attitudes?]

The open textbook that I am using for Public Speaking allows for relevant sections to be posted in modules on Canvas. This ease of use makes it easier for students to begin their reading assignments. This particular book has “bite sized” sections that can be posted individually (about 15 minutes reading time each with about five per chapter) while effectively covering the material. This allows students to pace themselves comfortably. Students seem more motivated to do the reading and have received the book well.

Describe your students’ reactions to the open textbook – content and/or cost.

Students reactions to content and cost have been favorable. There is a wide variety and range of financial circumstances among students, so cost does not matter equally to all. Also, some students may have book vouchers and some are used to looking for affordable prices for used books online. That said, there is an overall appreciation for both the convenience and cost – or lack of cost!

What do you think of the quality of the new textbook?

The Public Speaking OER is of excellent quality. No corners cut. No compromises. A solid text that provides excellent springboards for class discussion and that gives students a solid grounding for their class speeches and beyond.

What would you say to other faculty members who are considering switching to OER?

Shop around, do your research and go for it!

International Open Access Week

During International Open Access Week, we like to highlight open initiatives and provide some information about Open Access generally. Simply put, Open Access, “is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles coupled with the right to use these articles fully in the digital environment.” One of the foundational groups of the movement towards Open Access put out a public statement of principles, called the Budapest Open Access Initiative, in 2002. But for even longer than two decades, advocates have talked about and pushed for a fairer, more responsive and inclusive scholarly communications ecosystem. 

Open Access has always meant slightly different things to different people, and today that is even more the case. The dizzying array of publishing options available to researchers doesn’t help, and the jargon can quickly become confusing. But fundamentally, the principles of Open Access remain the same and there are easy, impactful steps our Touro community can take to help ensure more curious minds are impacted by their scholarship.

The Libraries most exciting and important open initiative is our Open Educational Resources (OER) project. You’ve likely read about OER in previous blog posts, but our OER guide is the place to learn even more. To date, this initiative has saved students nearly a quarter million dollars on course materials like textbooks! Our community’s creation and adoption of OER drives affordability and access, not only for our students but for anyone with an internet connection.

But back to research articles…. No matter where you publish, even if you publish in a closed access, subscription journal, you can deposit your paper in our institutional repository, Touro Scholar, to make sure your work can be widely read and shared. Where you publish oftentimes comes down to circumstances and decisions you cannot control. While investigating journal quality and the publication agreement you sign is incredibly important, another step to take control over the process is to deposit your paper. We make this easy for you with a simple to fill-out form available here: https://touroscholar.touro.edu/submit_research.html 

Happy Open Access Week!

-Contributed by Tim Valente, Scholarly Communications Librarian

Textbook Heroes: Sabra Brock

Dr. Sabra Brock

Welcome to our series recognizing champions of free and affordable course materials at Touro! These “Textbook Heroes” have made a difference in the lives of our students by lowering the cost of their degrees. Do you know someone who fits the bill? Nominate them (or yourself) by contacting the Libraries.

Hello, I am Dr. Sabra Brock. I am Chair of the NYSCAS Business and Accounting Department and also teach Principles of Marketing. I recommend to all my faculty to at least look to see what OER texts are available for their courses. Even if used as a supplementary text, students appreciate the free and easy access what OERs provide. 

Principles of Marketing is the beginning course in marketing and is required of all business and accounting students no matter whether their major is accounting, finance, management, or marketing. I had not taught this course for many years when I returned to NYSCAS and therefore did not have a previous text that was relevant. 

My students really appreciated the OER text, even though it is a bit older than I would have liked (2015). Marketing is such a dynamic field that even standard publisher texts have a difficult time keeping up with innovations in the field. Thus, I use many videos, guest lecturers, and blogs to supplement. 

Faculty Orientation to Library Services: A New Video Resource!

Fall Semester is here and, after all the holidays of September had us mostly away from our work and studies, things are starting to get into full swing at Touro. So, now is the perfect time to announce that we have a fantastic new resource to help introduce faculty to, or remind them of, all the services our Libraries offer.

Created by our Library Information Literacy Director, Sara Tabaei, and our Starrett City Library & Outreach Assistant, Brandon Harrington, the Faculty Orientation Video is brief and fast-paced, clocking in at 5 minutes and covering everything from our library locations to research support and Canvas integration.

Check out this list of topics covered and note that you can jump to any section of the video via the links:

1. Library Locations (0:24)

2. Library Website Login (0:35)

3. Library Resources (0:43)

4. Request Additional Materials (1:01)

5. Course Reserves (1:20)

6. Open Education Resources at Touro (1:36)

7. Touro Scholar & Faculty Publications (2:04)

8. Research & Instruction Support (2:30)

9. The Library on Canvas (4:11)

10. Embedded Library (4:55)

Kudos to Sara and Brandon for their great work on this video! Fellow librarians and library staff, please feel free to share it with, or recommend it to, the faculty members at your site.