Introducing “UAsk…WeAnswer!”

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The elbow bump: a social distancing-approved “howdy.” Image by J slick / CC BY-SA

Do you engage in the time-honored tradition of staying awake throughout the night to prepare for exams or produce written assignment? Perhaps you need the quiet of the small hours, or the focus that only a fast-approaching deadline can provide. Would you rather start your work when all the people around you are fluffing their pillows and ducking under their blankies? Only you (and possibly your family, friends, and significant other) know if you are a night-owl. There is no shame in your game! But what do you do when the world is on a 9-5 schedule and you are not?

Don’t worry — the Touro Libraries have got you! We offer remote reference through “U Ask…We Answer!” an instant messaging service powered by Springshare Library Software and your helpful Touro Libraries librarians. We are online 12/24 (9 to 9 EST, or thereabouts) 5 days per week, waiting to Chat with you. You can reach us from the QuickSearch results page, by clicking on the “Chat Live” tab located at the upper right corner:

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Or by clicking the Ask-A-Librarian image in the upper right corner of the Libraries homepage:

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When we are online, the Chat portion of the page will contain several blank text fields. We request your name, Touro email address, campus location and question. This information will be transferred to the librarian waiting online, at the ready to assist.

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But what happens when we are not online, and you still have a question? You have some options. You can always email us your question, and we will email you with a written response. To do this, click on the email icon:

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A form will magically appear where you can input your question and email address.

#6 Ask-A-Librarian Form

You will receive your answer within 24-48 hours.

Yikes! That’s a long time, especially when time is of the essence. But as I said, we’ve got you! If you didn’t reach us on Chat because you didn’t think of your question until after midnight, there is a second option.

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“The Thinker” by Rodin, photographed by Andrew Horne.

You can search the FAQs (frequently asked questions) contained in the UAsk… WeAnswer! knowledge base.

When we are offline, put a keyword in the blank text box and search. Questions previously asked using that keyword will be returned, and you can review any or all answers.

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You also have the option of searching the knowledge base at any time, even when we are on Chat, by clicking on the question mark icon.

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This search will give you access to all the previously asked question and answer sets (asked by actual Touro students, faculty, alumni and staff), but arranged by popularity and currency.

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You can search by keyword, topic, or, if you are in the mood, browse through all question and answer sets. As more questions are asked, additional FAQs will be added to the knowledge base. Hopefully, this will increase the likelihood that your question will be included. While you might not find the answer to “How do I get the PDF of an article I need right now?” the FAQs will explain why it wasn’t in the databases and further action for you to take to obtain it. At 2 a.m., it’s sure better than nothing.

This post was contributed by Carol Schapiro, Librarian, Midtown Library

From the Director’s Corner: May 2020

Timothy Healy, former President of the New York Public Library, said, “the most important asset of any library goes home at night – the library staff.”  Although the Touro College Libraries staff has been functioning from home since March 17th, we have met the challenges and difficulties with our usual sense of service.

As the Touro College community has been isolated from the physical buildings, the library staff has been thinking creatively about how to engage and connect everyone with the library services.  Communicating with our clients is vital and we have revamped and extended our online functions to meet these needs.

At this point I am taking this opportunity to salute the Touro College Libraries staff, our most important asset, for their dedication, commitment, and resourcefulness.

Bashe Simon
Director of Libraries, Touro College

While classes are being offered remotely, we are providing online research and reference help, remote library instruction sessions, and continued access to resources like eBooks, databases, and streaming video services. Due dates for print materials have been extended to June 15 and may be extended again, if necessary.

Get in touch with the Touro College Libraries through email, phone, or chat: https://www.tourolib.org/contact

Thank you again, Rita Hilu

This blog was originally posted in 2015. Over the weekend, Starrett City Library Assistant Rita Hilu passed away. Rita was an incredibly important member of the Touro College Libraries staff, and we want to remind everyone of what made her so special to students, faculty, and staff.

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After receiving many positive comments and remarks by Starrett City students and faculty on the Annual Customer Satisfaction Survey in December, Ms. Rita Hilu, our wonderful library staff at Starrett City, responds in her own words with gratitude and encouragement: Continue reading

California Dreaming

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There are so many places I’d love to visit, but only so much time and money available. So, on a recent winter night, when a friend began discussing her upcoming business trip to San Francisco with my wife, I thought little of it. We LOVE San Francisco, but had already been there (twice). If we were going to repeat trips we owed family a visit in Florida. So I was a bit surprised when, fueled by several glasses of Pinot Noir and Cabarnet Sauvignon (oh, did I mention they were discussing this at a wine tasting?) my wife and friend announced we were meeting up in San Francisco in April. Continue reading

Bother A Librarian Today

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A librarian’s dream: Patrons lining up at the reference desk! (image via NYPL Digital Collections)

“I hate to bother you, but…”

Just stop right there.

Librarians want to be bothered.

We are waiting for your questions.

Each question is an adventure. You ask for help; we go on a quest to seek the information. The puzzle to figure out the best keywords to pull up better articles is a mystery to be solved.  Continue reading

Are Libraries Becoming Obsolete? A Decade Retrospective

Libraries, from medieval to modern (Old Library at St. John's Cambridge and Touro Kew Garden Hills)
More computers, less vellum: Libraries from medieval to modern (Old Library at St. John’s Cambridge and Touro Kew Garden Hills)

The other day, our Information Literacy Service Director, Sara Tabaei,  approached me about updating an article I had written in 2005 entitled: “Are Libraries Becoming Obsolete?” I agreed and thought it would be a good idea to revisit the topic and reflect over whether my initial thoughts still held.  Continue reading

So, what DO librarians do all day?

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The librarian of yore…lots of dusty books? Check! Bun and cardigan? Check! (CC0 image via Wikimedia)

So you may or may not know that librarians actually have to go graduate school to become librarians.  You may even wonder what we study. As a student in library school (Queens College Graduate School of Library Science), I often get a shocked “You need a degree for that!?” when I explain that I’m working toward earning my Master’s degree in library science.  Continue reading