Introducing Open Textbooks this fall at Touro: students save almost $15,000.00

Is this textbook required? Can I use an older edition? Does the library have this book? These are common questions raised by students at the beginning of every semester. The reason why they are so common is very simple: textbooks are expensive. In the last 20 years, their price increased over 200%, while college tuition increased 191%, both way above the overall inflation (+57.4%, Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Bashe Simon, director of Touro Libraries, initiated a project to raise awareness of open textbooks. Open textbooks are resources that are available at no cost under aCreative Commons license. This allows them to be downloaded, stored, distributed, revised, and remixed to suit the instructor’s need. They are free and have been used in numerous higher education institutions with great success (see, for example, this project by Tidewater Community College). Continue reading

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Celebrating Sukkot

A sukkah from inside. (From Wikimedia user Muu-karhu)
A sukkah from inside (via Wikimedia user Muu-karhu)

After the solemnity and introspection of the High Holy Days, Sukkot, the Festival of Booths, is always a treat. Like the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, I look forward to Sukkot every year because this holiday, unlike Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, is an unaltered celebration.  After the Exodus from Egypt, the ancient Jews traveled the wilderness for forty years before reaching the land of Israel. They lived in small huts called “sukkot” during this time. The holiday of Sukkot commemorates those temporary dwellings: Orthodox Jewish families build a small hut, or Sukkah, outside the house where they eat all meals for the seven days of the holiday. Many Orthodox Jews also sleep outdoors in the Sukkah. A typical Sukkah would look something like this:

(source)
(source)

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Data Viz: Seeing Numbers Through Images

Visualization of the best-selling books of the past 50 years (by Jared Fanning)

Recently, I attended a workshop on data visualization. Data visualization, or “data viz,” is a variety of methods of making sense of data through visual representation – anything from a basic excel graph, to infographics, to complex animations. Although it might seem like merely a beautifying process, data visualization is a form of analysis that aims to uncover insights that would be difficult to glean from the raw data. Continue reading

What’s for dinner? Answers through the ages from the NYPL

Lager Beer Saloon Menu, 1900
Kosher Victorian Restaurant menu, 1900 from NYPL menu collection: http://menus.nypl.org/menus/15689

We’ve all heard that avocado toast is the centerpiece of the millennial brunch, but have you ever wondered what your (great-)grandparents might have ordered when they were your age? Or maybe seeing the en vogue cocktails served at the Tavern on the Green in Central Park in years gone by might pique your interest? If you’re a history major or buff, perhaps you’d be keen to know how rationing during the war years affected restaurants? The NYPL’s Menu Collection (one of their many digital projects) can answer all those questions, plus raise a few more (mock turtle soup, anyone?). Continue reading

Flag Day: The Anniversary of the Stars & Stripes

(CC0 image via Pixabay)

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Each year, Flag Day is celebrated on June 14th. It started with a teacher, BJ Cigrand, in 1885. He encouraged his students to observe the anniversary of the adoption of the first official flag of the United States on June 14, 1777. At that time, the flag sported only 38 stars (compared to 50 today), after Colorado joined the Union in 1876, along with the 13 horizontal stripes representing the original 13 Colonies.

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The flag on display at Bay Shore library

Cigrand spread the idea through his writing and speeches on patriotism and the flag. Over time the ceremonies grew across the United States. After three decades of acknowledging “Flag Day”, President Woodrow Wilson wrote a Proclamation on May 30th, 1916 for the official observation of the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777. To further recognize the history of the flag, an Act of Congress on August 3rd, 1949 signed by President Truman officially made June 14th of each year National Flag Day.

Citizens, businesses and organizations are encouraged to observe Flag Day by hanging a flag throughout the week of June 14th.

Contributed by: Joan Wagner, Chief Librarian, Bay Shore

Streufert, Duane. “Usflag.Org: A Website Dedicated To The Flag Of The United States Of America – The History Of Flag Day”. Usflag.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 13 June 2017.

Money Smart Week

 

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Source:  ALA–MSW 2018

 

The entire month of April is Financial Literacy Month, but this week is also Money Smart Week. If personal finance is not something you usually give a lot of thought, now is a great time to build off tax season (and possibly a refund!) and to extend the spirit of spring cleaning to your bank accounts. There are many resources available to help you take control of your finances and make your money work for you. Of course, this is a place to exercise your information literacy skills, and to consult a certified professional where appropriate, but we have compiled a new Financial Literacy LibGuide to help you get started.  Continue reading

An Israel Travelogue

When temperatures hit the 30s °C (that’s 80s-90s °F), it’s time to leave my air-conditioned, windowless library located two floors underground in the Givat Shaul neighborhood of Jerusalem, and go touring.

This is how I found myself on an air-conditioned tour bus this past summer with former New Yorker and veteran tour guide Shalom Pollack, traveling through the southern Hevron hills, where the heat was in the low 40s °C (104-106 °F) in the shade!

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Vilna Discovery: Planning a Workshop

On the 8th of January 2018, the Association for Jewish Libraries’ New York chapter, NYMA (AJL-NYMA), held its annual Reference Workshop on the Vilna Discovery of lost Jewish documents at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.

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Front entrance of YIVO by Gryffindor – This panoramic image was created with Autostitch. Stitched images may differ from reality., Public Domain.

 

As a Judaica Librarian I have been attending these workshops for years, but this one was special. It was the first one I helped put together as Reference Workshop Co-coordinator for AJL-NYMA. I accepted the position shortly after the AJL annual conference last year and naturally had no idea what I was going to do or how to do it! Continue reading

Which Way to the Bookstore? Contains new and updated information.

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If I had a nickel for every time a student walked into the Midtown library expecting to buy a textbook, I’d have a pocketful of change. Why do they come to this place, where shelves are lined with so many books, yet I cannot sell them a single one? Doesn’t that sound like a bibliophile’s bad riddle? (OK. Here’s one. What do you get when a librarian tosses a billion books into the ocean? …A title wave!) No seriously, where is the bookstore? Continue reading

2017 Customer Satisfaction Survey: Addressing Your Concerns (Part II)

In this second part of the Customer Satisfaction Survey, we will share with you some of your feedback and concerns.

Some of your responses to “What do you like most about the library?” are as follows:

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The friendly and helpful library staff

Online access to scholarly journals

Large selection of databases

Organized and quiet place to study  

That it is accessible from my home workplace

Since the main purpose of the annual survey is to give our users an opportunity to hear their voices, we also asked, “What do you least like about the library?”

Continue reading