Art To The Rescue

Guest post contributed by Dr. Shoshanah Findling, Graduate School of Education. 

Artist: Julia Rand, “Untitled”, Oil.

Building off the success of our school-wide faculty art show called “Art After Dark”, I saw the need to keep the momentum going. But how do you do that during a worldwide pandemic? We had to get creative (pun fully intended) regarding how to keep art alive. Although we could not gather in person to curate or gather for a live artist reception, it did not mean that people didn’t want to. We were determined to try.  

Covid-19 had us scrambling for ways to engage our students. As a self-trained artist, I know that artists have a need for solitude and reflection to make uncover the meaning that will translate into their art. But we also crave social interactions with fellow creative souls for validation and inspiration. Artists will seek a tribe where they can discuss themes, mediums, techniques and “play off each other”. When I need a spark of inspiration, I can turn to my art league for all this.  During the pandemic they could not have live meetings. They made use of Zoom and PowerPoint presentations to have virtual shows. Here at Touro, we were doing this for our courses. I knew I could make this work. What did I have to lose?   

I always say “when you make a wish, the universe will conspire to help you”. I made a passing comment to a colleague about the need to deal with all the uncertainty surrounding Covid with a new art show. Annecy Baez, of the Graduate School of Social Work suggested an Art Museum Gallery template she used to enter a different show. All I had to do was keep the format and give credit to the designer.  I also had an amazing group of school counseling students in the Graduate School of Education that semester who enjoyed art as a hobby. They wanted to participate and even offered to co-curate with me. Samantha Marinello, who holds a Masters degree in Art Therapy and attends the School Counseling program was a tremendous help.  I also have to thank Inna Smirnova for her help promoting the two shows on Touro’s website. She discovered an unusual virtual gallery called Artsteps and designed another 3-D virtual art show with the images I sent her.   

The first faculty-student virtual art show was held from November, 2020-January, 2021. The show was called Covid Creations: The Art of Uncertainty. We also held a virtual workshop to design Mandalas on glass bottles. In spring of 2021, flowers were not the only things to come out of dark. In some ways we all bunkered down into our own cocoons. When the Covid vaccine was approved for emergency use, we too could have a sense of hope and renewal.  Looking for signs of change and hope inspired me to create a second virtual show.  There is still time to see the second virtual art show which is titled “Hope Blooms”.  When we reopen in September (with the Lord’s help) we will complete our indoor Garden of Hope as a green reminder of our shared experiences during the pandemic.    

Everyone has their own coping mechanism. Mine has always been art. It is a way to make sense of what is happening to me and all around me. It can form community, draw people to a cause or bring their innermost dreams to life. Art has the power to transform lines, shapes, colors and patterns which adds beauty into the world.  

Artist: Annecy Baez, “Grief”, Digital Collage. 
Artist: Samantha Marinello, “Saying Good-Bye”, Acrylic. 
image: Hope Blooms exhibition announcement

The virtual art show, Hope Blooms, can be viewed here through 8/10/21.

-post contributed by Dr. Shoshanah Findling, Graduate School of Education 

Textbook Heroes: Neil Normand

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.

image: Neil Normand (provided)

Neil Normand is Lecturer and Lab Director at Touro’s Lander College for Women. He is also a Fellow in our Health Sciences and Allied Health Open Educational Resources (OER) Faculty Fellowship 2020-2021. 

[refresher: Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching and learning materials that are free to all users. They reside in the public domain, or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.] 

The Touro College OER Faculty Fellowship, sponsored by Touro College Libraries and funded by a grant from the Network of the National Library of Medicine Middle Atlantic Region, supports faculty in the health sciences and allied health fields in developing Open Educational Resources for their undergraduate and graduate students. The fellowship was awarded to five Touro Faculty members to support adopting, or creating OER for use in their courses. 

Neil’s fellowship project, the Lander College for Women Microbiome Project, takes the form of a collection of OER modules (textbook chapters, articles, videos, etc.), adopted from several sources, and hosted in Canvas. It was created for his Principles of Biology I course and lab. With this course taken by roughly 600 students a year, Neil’s fellowship project has the potential to save Touro students around $70,000 a year in textbook costs!  


Here, Neil answers a few questions about his OER fellowship project: 

Why were you interested in OER in the first place?  

There is a wealth of helpful information in the form of Open Educational Resources. In the recent shift to remote-based learning, I feel that is important to take advantage of the online resources that are available.  

How was your experience finding tools and resources for OER?  

It was pleasantly surprising finding many online resources with OER. Through TouroOne, the online Library resources were very helpful. Several different OER Biology textbooks were available as well as OER course material. The OER library staff was extremely helpful in helping myself and the other fellows. We met regularly and we were made aware of different resources. 

What were your goals? Did you achieve the goals you had set out for your project?  

My goal was to create an online resource for students to access information on the Human Microbiome project. Thanks in large part to the Touro Libraries OER resources I was able to achieve that. 

Can you give us a description of your OER fellowship project? 

My project was to develop an online resource to learn about the Microbiome, loosely defined as microorganisms, such as bacteria, that are found throughout the human body. It plays an important role in our understanding of our interactions with microorganisms and can help better understand which microorganisms are associated with clinical conditions and can help to improve the overall state of human health. I have used OER to first provide some background information on microorganisms in general. Also, the term Biome is an Ecology term that describes the interactions with organisms on a particular habitat, so I have provided some background information on that as well.   

The idea of the microbiome is the microorganisms that inhabit our bodies, which is the habitat so to speak, in an ecological sense. There is a lot of Microbiome information provided. Some in the form of informative video content, some in the form of an open online course at MIT and links to papers and online books and other important websites that inform a lot about the microbiome. Finally, since this is intended to be a resource for Lander College for Women, a Womens Jewish College, there is also information about the impact of the human microbiome on women’s health, as well as information regarding a parallel concept in Jewish Philosophy, that a human being is a microcosm of a world. 

Thanks, Neil!

see our other Textbook Heroes posts   

-post contributed by Kirk Snyder, Open Educational Resources & Instruction Librarian 

 

2020-2021 Library Statistics are in!

As we close out another academic year (this one like no other) we take a look back at the library services we delivered to the Touro community.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, almost nothing was normal about this year. The Fall semester began in the thick of the pandemic, with much, but not all, of our work shifting to remote service as Touro transitioned most classes to online learning. Some of us remained working in our libraries, in-person, throughout the year, some worked remotely the whole year, and some did a combination of both. We had to learn new skills, new technologies, and adjust our workflows for just about everything we did. Yet, Touro Librarians and Library Staff found new ways to connect with our students and faculty and continued to provide the same great library services that we always have, pandemic or no pandemic.

As we had relatively few students and faculty on our campuses this year, most of our reference service moved to being remote. We had the most reference activity via email and phone, with our Chat and Ask-a-Librarian services fielding a steady stream of inquiries as well.

Our librarians regularly teach classes on research methods, and this year was no exception, only that all of these classes were shifted online and carried out via zoom. Through the year, we taught 136 classes over zoom, and had 2131 students attend our library classes. Our asynchronous educational efforts were successful as well, with 408 students and faculty using our many libguides this year. Our librarians and library staff also continued to educate ourselves, attending webinars throughout the year, with a combined total attendance of 544.

Let’s take a look at all the numbers!


We are still hard at work over the summer and are looking forward to what the next academic year will bring, with the start of the Fall 2021 semester.

Until then, see you in the library (call first to verify hours) and online!

post contributed by Kirk Snyder, Open Educational Resources & Instruction Librarian.

Student Research Fellowship Grant Program- Summer ’21

screenshot from the Student Research Fellowship Grant Program webpage

Attention all students and professors!

Are you interested in receiving support to conduct your own research project this summer that will hone your academic skills and enhance your career prospects?

Touro has announced a grant program for student-led summer research projects across the Touro College & University System. The competition is open to all students (from our Undergraduate, Graduate, and Professional Schools) at the four major campuses, Touro College, Touro University California, Touro University Nevada, and New York Medical College. Accepted applicants will receive a stipend to support their work. Projects are student-initiated and completed under the guidance of a faculty mentor.

Find all the details on the grant, and apply (before July 9th) here:

https://www.touro.edu/departments/research/research-support/student-research-support/

Get help from the library

If you have questions about the research process, finding and evaluating sources, citation, or practically anything else during the course of your research, the Library has you covered! Our librarians are available for one-on-one assistance via our Ask a Librarian service. You can chat with us, call us, email us, or tweet us. Need help beyond a quick question? Schedule a (remote) research consultation with us!

And be sure to check out our libguides on:

post contributed by Kirk Snyder, Open Educational Resources & Instruction Librarian.

Textbook Heroes: Olalekan Ogunsakin

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. 

image: Dr. Olalekan Ogunsakin (provided)

Dr. Olalekan Ogunsakin is Assistant Professor in the Department of Basic Biomedical Sciences, and Course Director for General Pathology at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in Harlem, NYC. Dr. Ogunsakin is also a Fellow in our Health Sciences and Allied Health Open Educational Resources (OER) Faculty Fellowship 2020-2021. 

[Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching and learning materials that are free to all users. They reside in the public domain, or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.] 

The Touro College OER Faculty Fellowship, sponsored by Touro College Libraries and funded by a grant from the Network of the National Library of Medicine Middle Atlantic Region, supports faculty in the health sciences and allied health fields in developing Open Educational Resources for their undergraduate and graduate students. The fellowship was awarded to five Touro Faculty members to support adopting, or creating OER for use in their courses. 


Hear more about Dr. Ogunsakin’s fellowship project in his own words: 

“The goals for this project were to evaluate and assess public health interventions to chronic diseases in East Harlem, a community where our campus is located. The project focuses on public health preparedness and intervention in conjunction with the activities of the student-run health clinic in the Harlem campus.  

“Open Educational Resources (OER) are a valuable tool that we believe will provide the requisite platform to share our project, thoughts, ideas, findings, and conclusions with the public, especially the target community of East Harlem. OER is expected to be our window-access to the outside world and the ideal platform to share our project findings with the public. 

“This project has greatly improved student participation in community outreach and intervention activities. It has also empowered the students to address health education and awareness among their potential patients and community residents. Through this project, my students and all the stakeholders have been able to assess and harness available resources for improving overall health outcomes in the community. Most importantly, every student, through this project, will come to understand the importance of health education and awareness to improving overall community health outcomes. 

“Our team has submitted three abstracts that have been accepted for presentation at different conferences, seminars, and academic meetings. We are currently working on two manuscript drafts from the analyzed data on the project. These drafts are being prepared for submission in reputable journals.  

“Participating in this fellowship has been one of the greatest highlights of my career in this institution, as my team have learned so much about different OER platforms out there that can be used and adapted to our project to help improve our project outcome. This was definitely a great opportunity.  

“We hope to continue to partner and work with the librarians towards presenting our findings from the project to the Touro community and the general public.”  

see our other Textbook Heroes posts  

-post contributed by Kirk Snyder, Open Educational Resources & Instruction Librarian 

Textbook Heroes: Tanupreet Suri

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. 

image: Dr. Tanupreet Suri (provided)

Dr. Tanupreet Suri is Assistant Professor of Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Touro’s School of Health Sciences. Her research and practice interests include college-student mental health, experiences of minority students within higher education, social media, and new technology’s role in identity development, community-based participatory research, and social justice advocacy. She is also a Fellow in our Health Sciences and Allied Health Open Educational Resources (OER) Faculty Fellowship 2020-2021.

The Touro College OER Faculty Fellowship, sponsored by the Touro College Libraries and funded by a grant from the Network of the National Library of Medicine Middle Atlantic Region, supports faculty in the health sciences and allied health fields in developing Open Educational Resources for their undergraduate and graduate students. The fellowship was awarded to five Touro Faculty members to support adopting OER for use in their courses.   

Tanupreet is currently using OER in her course Case Conceptualization, Documentation, & Practicum, with plans to extend her OER use to other courses in the coming semesters. 


Hear from Dr. Suri herself, on the value of OER, how it benefits Touro students, and how it fits into her teaching practice:  

“Utilizing OERs not only provide access to content for course materials that are either free or very low cost both to the instructor and the student but also foster creativity, again, both for the instructor and the student. The positive impact I hope to make on my students is by having more of their involvement in creation of the learning materials. The involvement will hopefully empower students to take charge in their learning process. This student involvement will further enhance long-term retention of the content we are covering. Finally, having more transformational learning opportunities present for students will have a positive impact on the learning community that is created with the students.

“This process is very much aligned with my teaching style. In sum, my participation in this fellowship project has highlighted a need for more of these materials to exist, specifically within the Clinical Mental Health Counseling field. I plan to continue utilizing OERs in more courses both to save costs as well as to offer students an opportunity to get creative in their overall learning experience.” 


see our other Textbook Heroes posts

-contributed by Kirk Snyder, Open Educational Resources & Instruction Librarian, Touro College Libraries

New Resource Alert! ProQuest’s Free Collection of African American History Documents.

image: screenshot, Black Freedom Struggle in the United States, May 2021. http://blackfreedom.proquest.com

ProQuest is familiar to the Touro community as a provider of scholarly literature, with their popular database ProQuest One Academic. They have recently released a collection of primary source documents on the history of African Americans’ struggle for freedom, Black Freedom Struggle in the United States: Challenges and Triumphs in the Pursuit of Equality.

This collection was released as a free resource on the web, so you can access it any time, even when you’re not signed in to the TouroOne system. It is presented as an accessible, easy-to-navigate website, separate from ProQuest’s research databases.

image: screenshot, Featured Subjects, Black Freedom Struggle in the United States, May 2021. http://blackfreedom.proquest.com

Primary sources are first-hand accounts from people directly connected to a subject, event, time or place. They are invaluable to the study of history, especially when they center the voices and perspectives of those largely kept out of the historical narrative.

See also: Librarian Emily Johnson’s libguide on Primary Sources.

Black Freedom Struggle in the United States features speeches, interviews, letters, newspaper stories, government documents from the FBI and Congress, laws and court records from the era of slavery and abolitionism all the way to contemporary times, with Black Lives Matter, the high-profile killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many others, and the racial unrest of 2020.

The website contains approximately 1,600 documents, organized into these six eras of history:

  1. Slavery and the Abolitionist Movement (1790-1860)
  2. The Civil War and the Reconstruction Era (1861-1877)
  3. Jim Crow Era from 1878 to the Great Depression (1878-1932)
  4. The New Deal and World War II (1933-1945)
  5. The Civil Rights and Black Power Movements (1946-1975)
  6. The Contemporary Era (1976-2000s)

-post contributed by Kirk Snyder, Open Educational Resources & Instruction Librarian, Touro College Libraries.

Open Education Week 2021 Roundup

The first week of March saw the global open education community commence its annual awareness campaign, Open Education Week. The event drew institutions and organizations from around the world to share Open Educational Resources (OER) on their own websites, on social media [see #OEweek], and via the Open Education Week organizers, Open Education Consortium.

[Refresher: Open educational resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. –OERCommons.]

The Open Education Consortium made many of these open resources, shared by the community, available in one centralized location, their repository, the OE Week Library. This is a great place to browse all manner of open resources for learning and teaching, from course modules to textbooks and everything in between. And, of course, it is all openly licensed, and therefore freely available to be used, shared and reused!

Here are just a few of the OER shared with the community during this year’s Open Education Week:

  • Creative Commons has a very interesting history. If you’re looking to learn more about Creative Commons (CC) and the open licensing movement that makes open education possible, this CC Certificate Course content is a great place to start. Read the textbook offered here for all the background and history that made open education possible. https://certificates.creativecommons.org/cccertedu/




For more discussion of equity and Open Educational Resources see our previous blog post here.

And for an introduction to OER including a plethora of definitions, tips and resources, see our Open Touro OER Initiative libguide.

contributed by Kirk Snyder, Open Educational Resources & Instruction Librarian, Touro College Libraries, Midtown.

Presidential Election LibGuide

Election Day is tomorrow, Tuesday, November 3rd, and polls in New York are open from 6:00am to 9:00pm. You can check to see if you are registered and find out where you can vote at the NYC Board of Elections website: https://vote.nyc/

Photo by Element5 Digital from Pexels

Another useful resource to prepare for Election Day is Touro’s Presidential Elections LibGuide: https://libguides.tourolib.org/election

This guide has links to a variety of non-partisan resources about the candidates and where they stand on critical issues, the electoral process, how to vote, and municipal Boards of Elections sites.

Learn more — then get out and vote!

Disclaimer: This post is not an endorsement of any political candidate, party, or policy.

New Staff Profile: Timothy Valente

Tim Valente
Tim Valente–Scholarly Communications Librarian at Midtown

Where were you born? 

I was born in Rahway, New Jersey.

Where else have you lived?
I was raised and lived in Central New Jersey, including Woodbridge Township and New Brunswick. Currently, I live in Woodside, New York.
What languages do you speak?
English, although I’ve studied Italian and still am conversational (need much more practice).
What fields have you studied and/or degrees have you earned?
Master of Information (Library and Information Science), BA in History. I’m interested in social history, history from below, and history of the book.
What is the part of your job that you enjoy the most?
I enjoy promoting open access; to research, to education, to textbooks and other materials. Library instruction is also very rewarding in that I can see an immediate tangible impact of my work.
What do you think will be the most challenging part of your job?
The perception that open access material is inherently lower quality than traditionally published material. It’s natural to be suspicious of something that is free. However, despite some bad actors (e.g. predatory journals), open-access materials have an immensely positive impact, allowing for greater readership and more citations.
I’m inspired by the work of libraries and non-profits to make knowledge freely and universally available; Wikipedia, Internet Archive, Directory of Open Access Journals, and HathiTrust are some of my favorites.
Your ideal vacation?  
Cabin, lake, canoe, fishing rod.
Any hobbies?  
I love to cook and also play the drums.
Favorite food?
Soup. Chicken to lentil to Tom Yum and everything in between.

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

For a time I wanted to become a chef. Perhaps that will still happen in the future.