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.
Back in 2017, I shared my attempts to get back into running after many years, specifically referencing the “Freshman 15” and other corpulent milestones. Since then, I’ve done a fairly good job of keeping up the runs and avoiding salty snacks in front of the TV in my normal day-to-day life. Or at least, I did, until March 13, 2020. As many of us in the USA recall, that was the day ‘normal’ changed.
Homeschooling can be an important way for parents to further children’s ethicaleducation, well-being, and spiritual development. There is an opportunity to make the content fun and beneficial to the child’s intellectual and moral growth, and to set them up for a life of learning inthe Jewish arts. There is a long tradition of this connection: In ancient Israel,the Temple was the site of music-making by the Levites serving in the Mamadot.
Music education can start in the womb, as children who hear Mozart’s music have been shown to be born with a greater ability to focus and stronger analytical skills. Toddlers should respond positively to singing songs and lullabies,and multilingualism can be cultivated by singing together; for excellent examples of songs to sing together, seeMama Lisa’s lullabies from around the world. Singing can help children develop creativity, cognitive skills, and listening skills. Playing along with instruments or movement-based activities can help the child develop coordination, gross and fine motor skills, and an appreciation of the relationship between numbers and music later. Simple lyrics can help develop vocabulary, linguistic, and cognitive skills. Music is a universal language. Beyond supporting childhood development, good music can foster inner peace. Some classical music envelops the soul in a way that soothe and can be part of a resilient mindset.
Toddlers can master the musical skills of recognizing high and low pitches, notes moving up down (the word sela in Psalms means an ascending scale on a stringed instrument), and cadence and tone patterns. The child can learn to recognize the spiritual power of the beautiful and sublimethrough the pitch, tone, cadences, and learning by ear (i.e., the Suzuki method).
To end on a personal note, one day, without prompting, my daughter sat down at the xylophone and played “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” while singing in perfect melody in Hebrew. She had learned and applied the concepts on her own or observed them when we often sing and play our simple songs together. It was powerful.
This article was contributed by David B. Levy, Chief Librarian at the Lander College for Women
Finding that silent time in which the world falls away and one can focus completely on work is the perfect moment of zen.
One would think working from home would allow for such moments to occur a lot and naturally. I suppose if you live alone, it might be possible. However, because I am sharing a space with a fiancé, four cats, and a future father-in-law, I am only able to reach such calm with the help of headphones white noise. Between the conference calls, the zoomies (the cats running around the house at top speed from room to room), and sharing an office, my moments of zen and silence are few and far between.
For most of the morning, I am monitoring the virtual library chat, keeping a keen ear out for the beep to let me know I have a message, while working on various other tasks. The headphones block out noise and keep me focused. They allow me to tune out the daily meetings my fiancé has and narrow my attention to my tasks at hand.
After chat, the headphones bring in music, which as a librarian is a rare treat. We are so used to working in silence, or with a low mummer of noise, that music is a rarity for us during work hours. I tend to find that music heightens my ability to immerse myself in my work. The world around me falls away and I can concentrate on my tasks.
However I miss it: I miss the murmurs, the questions, the interruptions (never truly an interruption, of course, for these queries are so much more important than what I was working on), and most of all, the people. Our students, professors, and staff who visit us in the library for help, and who always have a friendly smile on their faces, knowing we will do our best to help them.
But we aren’t there yet — we cannot assist you face-to-face at our desk among the books. But the library is still “open” online, and we librarians still have a smile and are ready to help you. Please, “interrupt” our day and make it a wonderful one. We love to help!
For all of the talk about the treachery of moving to online teaching, there are some surprising benefits to teaching information literacy sessions online, too. In this post, Touro librarians Edlira Agalliu and Natasha Hollander share their experiences and offer tips for other instructors working online.
Edlira Agalliu, Chief Librarian, Avenue J
Are these sessions very different from what you offered in the classes face-to-face? What are the differences?
For me personally, the transition have been very smooth and I feel very comfortable with online teaching, since I have been involved in teaching online via Zoom for a few years now (mainly internationally). However, I still can point out some differences:
The interpersonal aspect of face-to-face teaching is very different and hard to replicate in online teaching
The social aspect of students gathering in library for orientations gives a sense of community and sense of place that an online platform attempts to replicate with a digital community. The geographical location now is replaced with a virtual one, and students are sometimes spread nationally and internationally and spread across different time zones
The psychological aspect of face-to-face teaching makes it easier for extroverted personalities (both students and instructors) to take center stage, but the online platform also gives introverts the opportunity to make their voices heard
Although in the literature there is a distinction between synchronous and asynchronous teaching, I always have included asynchronous elements in my face-to-face teaching, so there are no major changes pedagogically
Are there any advantages to the online classes?
There are many advantages to teaching online, including the ability to access the course 24/7 and the flexibility that provides. Instructors can utilize innovative methods and be creative, while students benefit from a different kind of social presence and increased participation for introverts. Instructions for activities can be prepared and saved on the computer as video or Powerpoint presentation, and chat and discussion boards in Canvas can be used to engage students.
What are the disadvantages or challenges?
There are some disadvantages and challenges as well, including self-discipline for students and teachers and the hurdle of using technology and learning new platforms for online teaching (Zoom, Canvas, WebEx, Google Classrooms etc.) It is hard to ensure that classes are accessible for students with disabilities (using closed captioning and adaptive technologies), although this is a problem in face-to-face teaching too.
Another challenge is taking into account the computer skills of different groups of students, especially the older students that are returning to classroom after years of being in workforce. We don’t have evidence to suggest that they are not involved at all in online learning, but it could be an argued that they might be underrepresented as a group of students and lead to a generation gap.
When teaching internationally or even with classes that have students outside of the eastern states, it is important to consider different time zones to accommodate students, so that might be another challenge. And, silence after asking a question is amplified in online teaching and creates an uncomfortable situation, but we can use it as a tool for critical thinking to reduce awkwardness.
What are some of the success stories you can share with us?
I would call it a success when students are engaged in the classroom and they ask questions — and when they interrupt you because they want to make sure they understand the steps. It also feels like a success when students share their appreciation for your efforts and are thankful for your work, and when they ask for a follow-up session with you to dig into the material more deeply.
How did you collaborate with faculty?
We had scheduled face-to-face orientation sessions before switching to online teaching because of the stay-at-home orders, so I had everything scheduled in my calendar and it was just a matter of reaching out to faculty to set up those instruction sessions online via Zoom. Some others were scheduled via email knowing their classes and interest from previous years.
How do you make it interactive/engage with students?
I try to ask questions during my teaching to make sure that students are following along and that they understand the process, and to make sure I am not going too fast. These might be questions about citations and citation styles, dealing with primary sources, or other research process questions. I also make sure that I reserve some quite time for critical thinking, so that students who need time can formulate their thoughts.
Natasha Hollander, Librarian, Lander College for Women; Adjunct Instructor, School for Lifelong Education
Are these sessions very different from what you offered in the classes face-to-face?
The sessions that I give during my Zoom are a bit different than what I give face-to-face because of the coronavirus. My students are in an area that is very affected by the pandemic, so the classes being offered reflect that.
What are the differences?
I changed the work expectations for my students to better reflect their situations. Now, they are only expected to complete their homework worksheets, a proposal for their final paper, their literature reviews, and a final paper. Normally, I would include a presentation as well, but that would just overwhelm them more. Also, it helped to focus my Zoom classes on a final goal, which I think made it easier for my students.
Are there any advantages to the online classes?
I think that teaching online during this time is nothing but an advantage to my students. My students seem to take more accountability for their own work and have more access to me as their professor online, in terms of asking questions or expressing confusion. I also found that, explaining concepts to the class using the shared screen feature felt more personal than being in our regular classroom, where it is sometimes hard for students to see the one screen. Additionally, the students seem to be a little bit more engaged in class discussions which makes the class feel more actively involved.
What are the disadvantages?
I do not really see disadvantages to teaching this class via Zoom. I am a big advocate of utilizing Zoom to teach classes and reach out to students during this time of social distancing.
What are some of the success stories you can share with us?
In one of my classes, my students opened up over Zoom and started asking me a lot of questions about graduate school and how their work can be improved to benefit them in their future education and careers.
How did you get the opportunity to teach a class?
I got the opportunity to teach this class when I was filling in last summer for the librarian at the Borough Park campus. After discussing my background, my experience, and responsibilities at LCW with the Director of SLE, she offered me the chance to teach this class — and I had to accept.
How do you make it interactive/engage with students?
I engage with my students every time we have class, and even more often now that we are not meeting physically, because when they have a question, they can also schedule a one-on-one meeting with me. This is beneficial to them and shows that the students are taking initiative and taking their learning into their own hands.
Note: this information was originally presented in a staff development webinar to other Touro College librarians in May 2020. These responses have been condensed and edited for clarity.
I used to want to be a writer,
Someone who gave knowledge and information,
Someone who built worlds,
Someone who fueled the mind.
I used to want to be a writer,
I dreamed of it,
I thrived for it,
I lived for it.
Then the words disappeared,
They dried up like a river bed in summer,
They flew my coop like a flock of birds,
They bled from my mind.
Oh how I mourned their loss,
I sought out the advice of others,
I lost my self in their knowledge and information,
I lost myself in their worlds,
I had my mind fueled and I decided I wanted to be just like them.
I used to want to give knowledge and information,
I used to want to build worlds,
I used to want to fuel minds,
So I did.
I became a librarian.
I became a librarian by choice. I chose to go back to school to get my undergraduate degree and then go straight to graduate school. I was a non-traditional student and proud of it. My love of knowledge, discovery, and research led me to this path. My adoration of words, their meanings, and what they can accomplish fueled it.
Why did I become an academic librarian? It wasn’t for money, nor for fame. It was to help others. The dissemination of information is one of the greatest gifts — or superpowers — I have. I can help others find and discover the information they were looking for, and I can help spread knowledge. The toughest lesson I have had to learn is how to say ‘I can’t find that information, but I can suggest new avenues for trying to discover it.’
Even in this time of uncertainty, we are here for you. The academic librarians of Touro College are here. We are here to help you find your facts, support your arguments, and find new avenues of research. Above all, we are here for you — period. Reach out and talk to your librarian today.
I was never good at art. Throughout school, I was a disaster at drawing and a mess at painting. Art classes did little more than fill me with a sense of incompetence. Always told that I was more of a spatial and abstract thinker, I stuck to what I was good at: math and science.
I was in high school when I began to play around with my mom’s sewing machine just for fun. I made some interesting and awful clothes — I was not good at art, right?
It was a math teacher who changed my mind about my ability to sew. He asked me how geometry helped me figure out how to put pattern pieces together. Sewing, he told me, is nothing more than geometry. It requires measuring, numbers, cutting shapes of fabric, and putting them together like a puzzle. A lightbulb went off in my head: sewing is the math geek’s answer to artistic endeavors and creative outlets. I was hooked.
During the current coronavirus lockdown, I decided to spend some time catching up on patterns and fabrics I had accumulated over the years to make some clothes and share with our Touro community. Here is the dress I will try out:
Here it goes!
I started by measuring and calculating my pattern size. After, I cut out pattern shapes from the fabric (Figures 2 and 3).
After all the pieces of fabric are cut out, then comes the instructions on how to assemble them (Figure 4).
The instructions call for constructing the top first by sewing the bodice together with darts, pleats, and facing to add design features (Figure 5).
The top of the garment is put together, minus the sleeves; they are added later (Figure 6).
Next, I started work on the skirt section. Ironing is unfortunately required to get a perfect seam (Figure 7).
Like putting a puzzle together, the skirt was in four sections that needed to be sewn together (Figure 8).
Adding darts and pleats to skirt section to add figure enhancement (Figure 9).
The bottom and the top are complete. Now to attach them to each other (Figure 10).
The top and the bottom are matched up and sewn together. Final finishes are made to the garment by hemming rough edges and cutting loose strings (Figure 11).
The dress is then machine-washed and dried in order to get any chemicals out of the fabric and to pre-shrink the garment if is made of cotton.
Final adjustments are made for fitting (Figure 12), and the dress is done. Geometry — that’s all it is!
This blog post was contributed by Annette Carr, Librarian at the School of Health Sciences at Bay Shore. All photos courtesy of the author.
I started thinking about this as I sat aloneby my computer: can I be a librarian outside of the library? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that one could do a great deal from home as a librarian. As some might say, you can take the librarian out of the library, but you can’t take the library out of the librarian.
After being told we would begin working from home, we were given one day to go back to our offices to set up or pack up what we needed to work remotely. This began a whirlwind of changes to the way I work, from new, purring officemates to turning my home into a modern industrial park. Continue reading →
The new reality of working from home and social distancing relies on the use of video conference platforms to connect with co-workers and customers. Zoom has recently emerged as one of the leading remote meeting platforms where users can engage in online video conferences, chat, and mobile collaboration. Zoom was founded in 2011 by software engineer Eric Yuan. The company went public on the NASDAQ in April 2019.
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a boon for Zoom. Many schools, colleges, and companies across the country began downloading and using the platform just as the virus began to force people to work from home. Since March, the software has been downloaded 40 million times worldwide, and since February, the stock price for Zoom has nearly doubled from approximately $76 per share to $159 per share. But, as with many companies that find sudden success, Zoom’s flaws have been becoming more apparent to consumers.
Criticism of Zoom has revolved around its security flaws and a new phenomenon called “Zoombombing.” Zoombombing occurs when a hacker, prankster, or wrongdoer enters a Zoom meeting uninvited (aka “crashing a meeting”) and begins interrupting the meeting by posting inappropriate content or hijacking the meeting from the host. Zoombombing has led to many customers having to terminate their videoconferences, cancel meetings, and worry if their cyber security systems have been breached. One of our librarians at Bay Shore was in a webinar this week that had to be terminated due to a Zoombomber posting illicit content and disrupting the meeting.
In addition to Zoombombing, the rapid increase in Zoom usage has led to scrutiny of the company’s privacy policies and potential security flaws. Inparticular, Mac iOS users are vulnerable to security problems as hackers have been able to access Zoom on their computer to turn on cameras and microphones as well as install malware on their computer systems. Zoom has also come under criticism for giving user data to Facebook without users’ knowledge or permission. Zoom has since stopped giving user data to Facebook, but these problems have already led to class action lawsuits against Zoom.
While the privacy challenges need to be addressed at the company-level, Zoombombing is a threat we, as users, can take steps to combat as we continue to use Zoom throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond:
• Use the latest software: Ensure your participants are using the latest version of Zoom. The latest version has upgraded security features to block users from randomly scanning and joining meetings.
• Password protect:When creating a meeting, make sure your meetings require a password for participants to enter. Zoom has made password protection a default setting on the latest version of the platform.
• Direct invitation: Invite participants directly via email with an invitation and meeting password. Do not publicly post Zoom meeting information via social media or other public channels.
• Close your meeting: Once all participants have arrived at the meeting, close the meeting to any newcomers to avoid crashers. Hosts can close the meeting by clicking on the “Participants” tab at the bottom of the screen and choosing the “Lock Meeting” option.
• Remove/disable unwanted participants: The meeting host can remove and block crashers who are Zoombombing. The host can also disable the chat feature, mute all participants, disable participants from sharing videos, and limit screen sharing options to “Host only”.
While it feels like the whole world has been turned upside down due to the coronavirus, you can still do your best to better yourself and help others during these turbulent times. Through social distancing, diligent hand washing, and adhering to direction given by the CDC and WHO, we can all help to stop the spread of the virus. In addition to distance, hygiene and listening to public health agencies, there are a multitude of things that you can do to positively affect yourself and others during COVID-19.