Happy New Year 2021!

2020 was a challenging year, but as we look to 2021, there are many reasons to be hopeful. We are thankful to have been a part of your year and look forward to supporting your success in the new one, too, through research support, online and print resources, and more. Make it your resolution to come visit us — online or in-person — and see all that we have to offer you.

Photo by Polina Kovaleva from Pexels

The Touro College Libraries wish you and your families a happy and healthy new year!

Open Education Conference 2020

This year, the Open Education Conference was entirely online – which made it possible for me and Sara to attend and present a lightning talk titled “OER is Served: Framing OER as a Service to Stakeholders“.

Like Juliana and Sara when they attended OpenEd in 2018, I was excited to hear how other colleges and universities around the world were starting and sustaining their open education initiatives and I learned many things to use in my own work.

CC-BY 4.0: Open Education Conference
“That’s Not an Issue Here”: Addressing Myths and Misconceptions about OER at Private Institutions

A lot of the writing and tips about working on OER programs come from and address publicly-funded colleges and universities; since Touro is one of a growing number of private institutions working on OER, this session was a relevant one. The presenters reiterated something we have already found to be true at Touro: private college students are just as concerned about textbooks costs as their public college peers, and private college faculty are just as interested in addressing those concerns.

How (and Why) to Create Your Own OER Podcast

This session from staff at MIT Open Learning detailed how they created a podcast called Chalk Beat Radio to promote open educational resources at MIT and beyond. The session began with the hosts playing a podcast they recorded explaining the steps they took to create the podcast series from start to finish and how they addressed some of the challenges they encountered. After they played the podcast, there was a live question and answer session, and there were many takeaways we can bring to our OER information sessions and webinars — maybe we’ll start a podcast, too!

Reimagining PreK-12 OER Development through Teacher Education Programs

Because Touro has such a strong School of Education, the discipline has been a focus as we try to grow the Open Touro initiative. Teacher training is also a natural fit for open pedagogy practices, and this session explored how that is being put into practice at Lehman College (CUNY) in the Bronx through a partnership between a faculty member and a librarian.

Beyond Funding: Strategies for Sustaining OER at a Community College

The OER Initiative at the Harrisburg Area Community College in Pennsylvania began during the 2019-2020 school year with the formation of a committee who got to work building a community that would adopt, adapt, and author OER and would keep the momentum going, even if funding ran out. The presenters pushed the importance of experienced faculty members who can support those just starting out, which is something we are working on developing through Touro’s OER Faculty Fellowship.

The Future of OpenEd

The Friday Plenary explored participants’ perceptions of this year’s conference and how this online format might be included in the future iterations of the conference, even if some aspects of it do return to in-person delivery. It was a productive way to wrap up the sessions and gave me a lot to think about as I finish my first year as an OER librarian.

All Open Education Conference sessions were recorded and will be made available for free on the conference website in the coming weeks.

If you are interested in learning more about open education at Touro, please check out our guides at the links below:

This post was contributed by Georgia Westbrook, Open Educational Resources & Instruction Librarian

Annual Library Customer Satisfaction Survey 2020

What a year it has been! Despite the challenges 2020 has brought, the Touro Libraries have been working hard to support Touro’s students, faculty, and staff with research help, information literacy instruction, and more. We have tried some new services and carried on with some existing ones, and now, we want to know what you think of these offerings.

If you have utilized the Touro Libraries online or in-person during 2020, we invite you respond to our annual survey here: https://tourocollege.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3vYTqTdOj19eVpz. This survey will also pop up when you visit the Libraries website.

We value your feedback, and we look forward to continuing to provide excellent, engaging service to the Touro community in 2021 and beyond.

Put on your yarmulke, it’s time to celebrate Chanukah!

This post was originally published on the Touro College Library blog in 2015

(photo Ricki Carroll)
Many menorahs (photo by Ricki Carroll)

When I was a college student living in the dormitory, one of my favorite times of the year was Chanukah. Starting from the evening of the twenty-fifth day of the Hebrew month of Kislev, over one-hundred girls who called the dorm home came down to the front lounge, where long, foil-covered tables were set up in full view of the street, to light Chanukah lecht (candles or lights).

For eight nights the front lounge was softly lit with the light from hundreds of Chanukah lights. It did not matter if that light came from a sturdy iron menorah you brought with you from home that used olive oil and wicks or a cheap aluminum menorah you purchased in the dorm’s convenience store with a box of multicolored candles. Saying the blessings and watching the lights burn together, remembering the miracles that occurred in Jewish history during that time, that was what counted. Everyone was friendlier and more cheerful by candlelight, even if finals were around the corner and assignments were due the next day. Girls brought their dreidels downstairs to play around the low tables and ate sufganiyot, traditional jelly doughnuts fried in oil, provided by the school.

Jerusalem_Sufganiot_(8141532264)
Sufganiot from Old Jerusalem, Jewish Quarter Road, Neeman Bakery (CC image by Geagea)

We sang Chanukah songs and discussed the story of how a small group of Jews called the Maccabees (incidentally, our school sports teams and acapella group were named for these famous warriors) rose up from the oppression of the Syrian-Greeks during the time of the second Temple. Antiochus, their king, had issued restrictive edicts punishable by death preventing Jews from practicing their religion, including outlawing the Jewish Sabbath and most importantly, installing and worshiping idols in the Holy Temple. Judah Maccabee and his followers fought back, winning the battle against the massive Syrian-Greek army with their small band of soldiers.

The seven Maccabee brothers are condemned to death by Antiochus IV, by
The seven Maccabee brothers are condemned to death by Antiochus IV, by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo

After the fight, when Judah went to re-dedicate the Temple after its desecration and light the great Temple menorah, he could not find any of the special oil used. All bottles appeared to have been smashed during the desecration. After a thorough search, a tiny bottle of oil that would only be enough for one day was found still sealed. That oil burned for exactly eight days and nights, the amount of time required to produce a new batch of oil. To remember this miracle, Jews eat foods fried in olive oil, such as the aforementioned sufganiyot and potato pancakes called latkes. The dreidel has the Hebrew letters nun, gimmel, hay, and shin on each of its sides, which stands for ”neis gadol hayah sham,” or “a great miracle happened there”. Though I am not in the dorm this year, I will make time to pass by, look through the front windows at the long table of lights, and remember.

This year, Chanukah begins at sundown on Thursday, December 10th and ends at sundown Friday, December 18th.

This post was contributed by Toby Krausz, Judaica Librarian, Midtown