This blog post contains discussions of bipolar disorder. If you are in crisis or you think you may have an emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area at any time (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). If you are located outside the United States, call your local emergency line immediately.
Do you know someone with a mental illness? Someone who is considered neuroatypical, whose brain works differently than most people?
Perhaps you know someone with bipolar disorder, as “an estimated 2.8% of U.S. adults had bipolar disorder in the past year.” (The National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center, 2017) Or you know someone who has this disease and you don’t know it — someone who, as I put it, is “staying balanced on the hyphen”. This might be someone who works very hard on a daily basis to stay within a “normal” range of emotions and not give into the manic highs and deep lows of the illness.
Bipolar disorder is defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as “a mental disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks” (The National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center, 2020). It is characterized by extreme see-sawing moods, from “extremely ‘up,’ elated, irritable, or energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very ‘down,’ sad, indifferent, or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes)” (The National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center, 2020). Continue reading →
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 →
For the first time in the history of Chicago Animal Care and Control, the shelter has run out of dogs to adopt — and Chicago is not the only place in the United States seeing an uptick in animal adoptions and fostering since the coronavirus outbreak began.
In New York City and Los Angeles, the ASPCA says its applications for dogs and cats are up 200%. Nationwide, the statistics are even more promising. Petpoint, a software program that monitors 1,200 animal shelters across the country, found that adoptions are up 700% this year compared to 2019. Why the increase in pet adoptions and fostering since the coronavirus outbreak? It seems that sheltering in place, social media appeals, and the need for companionship are all driving this trend.
With stay-at-home orders in place across the country, many animal shelters are suspending operations. The temporary closure of shelters is leaving many animals vulnerable to not receiving adequate care. Furthermore, adoption events that usually bring in potential pet parents are being cancelled or postponed due to social distancing guidelines. The situation has caused shelter workers and volunteers to reach out on social media over the past month to ask the public for help by adopting shelter animals. If people are unable to adopt, shelters are asking them to foster animals temporarily until the shelters can reopen in the future.
In addition to being a platform for shelters to appeal directly to the public for help, social media has also been used to form virtual adoption communities and host online events. Since many live adoption events have been cancelled, some shelters are using Facebook Live to showcase adoptable pets online to people across the country. This method has given animals more exposure to a larger audience than traditional live events, which, in turn, is bringing in more potential adopters. Social media has also allowed rescue organizations across the country to work together in order to bring animals from one region to another. This has been very helpful since some areas of the country have a surplus of animals and others have a surplus of interested adopters and foster applicants.
Americans are responding to these social media activities in droves. The response seems to have grown out of both a sense of compassion toward the animals in need and a desire that many Americans have to help out others in a time of crisis to “try and do their part.” This response is also likely the result of the companionship that pets can provide in this anxious time. Taking care of pets provides consistency and routine for people who are not used to living under these new restrictions. In a time of social distancing, pets give people a sense of comfort and connection. They are giving people activities to engage in, too, whether that is going outside to walk the dog — while practicing social distancing — or having online meetings with other pet owners. The benefits to both humans and animals has been great and is something to cherish during this stressful time.
This post was contributed by Annette Carr, Librarian at the School of Health Sciences at Bay Shore
Beck, M., & McFetridge, S. (2020). Coronavirus in US: Pet fostering takes off as COVID-19 keeps Americans home. Retrieved from https://abc7ny.com/6077028/
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”.
It may feel like our current crisis is completely unprecedented, but the truth is that we can look to history for evidence of what has happened before and how people have survived pandemics. Jewish and biblical history hold valuable insights into our present situation.
Examples of Pandemics from the Bible
When King David conducted a census of the population, he ordered the counting of the people directly, instead of counting indirectly by means of half shekels (mahazit ha-shekel). As a result, the Rabbis tell us, a plague took place which killed 70,000 people, with 100 people dying each day.
It was decreed that the plague would be annulled if 100 brachot, or blessings, were recited each day. The Rabbis explain that since 100 people died each day from the plague, the recitation of 100 blessings a day would counteract midah kineged midah, or measure for measure (see Midash Rabba – Numbers 18:17; Tur 46, quoting Rav Netrunoi Gaon).
In another instance, we find the terror of plagues in Leviticus 26:25, which states, “And I will bring the sword upon you… and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you.” In yet another example, Ezekiel 7:15 states, “The sword is without and the pestilence and the famine within,” and, beyond that, the Philistines’ capture of the ark was said to cause a plague of hemorrhoids.
Examples of Rabbinic Responses
What remedies have Rabbis suggested over the ages to defend against epidemics?
The Talmud mentions the efficacy of offering prayers, particularly Tehillim (Psalms). If the situation does not allow large gatherings, then synchronized prayer, done at the same time in private domains, is effective.
This is also the theory behind dafyomi, developed by Rabbi Meir Shapiro. Jews around the world each study a page (daf) of the Talmud, the central text from which Jewish law is derived.
Being in quarantine or self-isolation at this time may give you more time to study, so you might like to keep in mind the elixir of old given by Rabbis for remedying not only physical illness, but also spiritual illness (refuat ha-nefeshverefuat ha-guf). The Chofetz Chaim urges the study of laws regarding slander and gossip that are believed also to curb the onset of plague and warns against causing harm psychologically of persons by “meanspeak“, embarassing person in public, and otherwise causing harm to individuals You might also like to learn about ethical principles which can be applied to the internet, as you interact with others in our digital world.
Wiping out this pandemic requires basic respect for life as the ultimate good, respect for human dignity, and great doses of humility, compassion, and above all, care for the sanctify of life.
Ultimately we must recognize that the ways of G-d are beyond human logic. We can look to history to understand how humans have reacted in the past, but only time will tell how we react to our current challenge. Keeping in mind these lessons, we can help others along the way.
This article was contributed by David B. Levy, Chief Librarian at the Lander College for Women
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.
Working from home might seem like a fantastic thing: no commute, no fighting traffic, no struggling to get up early, and no need to switch from your PJs to real clothes. But it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
Yes, it is exciting that you can sleep in a bit later, but I swear it makes getting up harder. My body is pre-programmed to wake up at 6:30 a.m. every day, but now, I wake up and hit snooze or wake up later and feel groggy as anything. I haven’t been late for my usual start time, but I’ve cut it closer than ever before and logged in at 7:29 a.m. (This is in contrast to my usual habit of arriving at the building at 7:15 a.m.!)
While staying in my PJs seemed like such a wonderful option, I decided on casual clothes instead (jeans and a t-shirt), because I wanted to stay in a work frame of mind. Being in my usual work clothes motivates me to stay productive, while I think that if I had stayed in my PJs, I would have wanted to get back in bed and go to sleep.
Commute and “Traffic” Jams
It might seem like I’d have an easy commute — a few steps out of the bedroom, up the stairs, down a hall and into the computer room — that takes what, maybe 3 minutes?
Well, that’s not the case when you have cats.
No one told my cats that I’d be working from home, and it turns out that they have their own ideas about my “walk to work.” First, there was trying to get up the stairs as Bowie, my wonder kitty and ever-present pal, decided it was time for a petting session on the landing of the stairs. It took two or three minutes until his majesty was satisfied enough to let me pass.
At the top of the stairs, I found Romeo, our lovely boy and belly rub king, who also flopped over and demanded pets before he let me pass. Finally, I was accosted by Auggie the ninja cat as I opened the door to try to get out of the room; she nearly knocked me over.
All-in-all, what I thought would take me just a few, quick steps, took me about five minutes.
Bringing the Library Home
Being able to log onto our chat reference service from home allowed me to provide reference and research support virtually, and to assist our students with their needs, just like I would have if I was in the library with them. Although I wouldn’t have been able to physically get them a book if they needed one or to grab a physical copy of the latest journal, this luckily didn’t come up in my questions.
I have also been able to work on this blog and to start reviewing books for our collection, some of the tasks I would normally work on library.
All in all, I believe my work from home experience has been a success so far — despite the fluffy traffic jams and a desire to stay in bed. I am thankful that, in this trying time, Touro College is looking out for its students and employees. Level heads will prevail and we will be back to normal before we even know it!
In the meantime, we have collected many resources for students, faculty, and staff to support them during this time:
Perhaps you are wondering what copyright is exactly? Basically, copyright is a set exclusive rights for authors which grant them legal control over who can use their work and in what ways. Licenses are terms which allow authors to transfer or forgo all or some of these rights, like in traditional book deals or article publishing. Creative Commons licenses are perhaps the easiest and most transparent way to license content and ensure a wider audience for your works now and in the future.
Sometimes we forget that we live in a transitionary period between print and digital media technologies. Publishing models from the first scholarly journal onward were tied to print technology and the materials and labor costs involved with advertising, reviewing, typesetting, printing, and distributing scholarly works.
Open Access arose out of the revolutionary potential of networked digital computers. Instead of waiting for their works to appear in print journals, scholars began sharing their papers with each other via email. By the 1990’s, having websites that host these preprints allowed for greater and more organized sharing. Arxiv.org (pronounced ‘archive’) was one of the first of these repositories.
Open Access journals allow for rigorous peer review, sometimes replacing the infrastructure supplied by commercial publishers with their own internet platforms. While there are many economic models for Open Access journals (and repositories), their goal is to provide immediate and free online availability to readers.
Happy Open Education Week! At Touro College Libraries, we are celebrating all things open education this week (and the rest of the year too). Follow this blog, and our social media accounts (@tourolibraries), and check out our bulletin board outside of the Midtown Library.
What would you do if you had an extra $175 to spend?
One Touro student saved that much in one semester when her professors used OER, or open educational resources, instead of traditional textbooks. OER, as defined by the Hewlett Foundation, “are high-quality teaching, learning, and research materials that are free for people everywhere to use and repurpose.” These materials can include test banks, lesson plans, and assignment templates, but most commonly, the term OER is associated with textbooks.
In the definition of OER, free means both free of costs and free when it comes to the application of copyrights. OER are licensed under Creative Commons, or are simply in the public domain, which means they can be distributed, adapted, copied, edited —basically you name it — without legal repercussions.
And, as that student who saved $175 put it, “Open textbooks are helping me drastically cut costs associated with pursuing my undergraduate degree and I am now able to apply these funds towards other things including tuition payments. It makes my life easier since typically at the end of each semester I am left with these books that I will likely never use again that just take up space as they sometimes can’t be resold.”
Despite such positive student experiences, myths about OER abound:
Myth #1: Open simply means free. Fact: Open means the permission to freely download, edit, and share materials to better serve all students.
Myth #2: All OER are digital. Fact: OER take many formats, including print, digital, audio, and more.
Myth #3: “You get what you pay for.” Fact: OER can be produced to the same quality standards as traditional textbooks.
Myth #4: Copyright for OER is complicated Fact: Open licensing makes OER easy to freely and legally use.
Myth #5: OER are not sustainable. Fact: Models are evolving to support the sustainability and continuous improvement of OER.
Myth #6: Open textbooks lack ancillaries. Fact: Open textbooks often come with ancillaries, and when they do not, existing OER can provide additional support.
Myth #7: My institution is not ready for OER. Fact: Any institution can start with small steps toward OER that make an impact for students.
Faculty across Touro are already adopting and adapting OER textbooks for their courses.
For example, the psychology department faculty at NYSCAS have adopted OER for their GPSN 110 course, and because of this, over 290 students across more than 12 sections have benefited from free, open textbooks.
Since the Open Touro initiative was established in Fall 2018, the use of OER has saved Touro students over $54,000 collegewide.
You can help increase that number by adopting, adapting, or even authoring your own OER — and librarians are here to help!
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.
I love to cook and also play the drums.
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.