Library day is a time for us to recognize and celebrate the work of the people in our libraries; the people who work to make library resources available and discoverable, the people who work to make the libraries clean and safe, the people who teach about library resources and research methods, and the people who engage our libraries to learn about our resources and use them to produce new works of creativity and knowledge.
The COVID-19 crisis magnified a perennial problem for libraries: making our online work and resources even more visible and accessible. The members of our department tackled this problem with characteristic creativity and vigor, engaging more online visitors in chat interactions than ever before, delivering unprecedented amounts of online instruction and consultations, and expanding the scope and reach of our online content. We engaged in new partnerships in teaching and research and produced leading scholarship in numerous areas of librarianship.
Enjoy learning about the nature and impact of some of the hidden and not-so-hidden work that took place in our libraries this year. There was not time or space enough to collect all examples, so please let us know if we left out a person, project, or resource you would like to see more of in this celebration.
Acting Chief Librarian Clay Williams
Acting Deputy Chief Librarian, John Pell
Hunter Librarians responded to the campus closures at the start of the pandemic by pouring an unprecedented amount of time and effort into engaging online library visitors in Ask-A-Librarian chat sessions. Hunter Librarians expected, and saw, increased demand for online reference services following the campus closures and rose meet it for visitors to Hunter Libraries Online and for library visitors all over the world. Hunter Librarians participate in an international network which enables them to respond to chat requests from visitors to online libraries at other colleges, universities, and communities. Through this network, Hunter Librarians engaged online visitors in numbers never seen before. These increased efforts at online engagement during this difficult period demonstrate Hunter Libraries devotion to supporting- through all possible means- the vital learning and research that takes place in libraries.
In addition to the increase in chat reference questions answered by Hunter Librarians during the past year, we also increased our instructional interactions with students. The chart below shows the total number of classes and the total number of one-on-one research consultations for both 2019 and 2020. Overall, our total classes and consultations for 2020 increased 16% over 2019. The one-on-one consultations alone increased 56% from 2019-2020. What this means is that students still needed individual research help during the pandemic, perhaps more than before, and the flexibility and availability of our librarians allowed for a huge expansion of these research appointments. This effort allowed us to truly meet students at their point of need, and reach more students than we had previously been able.
The following playlist of videos highlights some of the research conducted by Hunter College faculty and staff members over the past year. If you click the list icon at the top, you can see a list of the videos included in the playlist. Watch them all or explore what interests you!
Librarians frequently work with instructors for individual classes to support their students' research projects. These collaborations often extend over the course of a semester, with a librarian "embedded" into the course, or available for research support and consultations for the students as needed.
The tabs in this box contain examples of the products of some of those collaborations.
Linh An's Asian Studies class (ASIAN 210) worked with John Pell on problems involved in the identification, retrieval, and ethical use of media related to anti-Asian discrimination in the United States.
The students worked in groups to propose exhibits focusing on the themes of the class. The items below include excerpts from their proposals as well as links to their slide shows featuring their research and proposed exhibits.
"The Koala Exhibit explores prevalence of disease rhetoric in American’s anti-immigration history. In particular, Asians immigrants have often been labeled as diseased. The exhibit takes the viewer back in time to explore the mistreatment of Asian Immigrants starting from the late 19th century."
"Throughout history, Asian Americans have been viewed as a threat in consequence of being labelled as diseased / contaminated and have been generalized to fit harmful stereotypes. These viewpoints are prevalent in the ways that Asian American groups are treated—in the end, they are seen as threats and treated negatively. Asian groups are consistently dehumanized and blamed for several events such as epidemics. Furthermore, despite different Asian groups presenting different threats to society, the consequences are applied to all groups. In this exhibition, the many issues that certain Asian groups have faced throughout their time in the U.S. are brought to light. These issues are often forgotten but are crucial in that the prejudices against Asian American groups can repeat. This exhibit looks closely at the experiences of three Asian groups—Chinese, Filipinos, and Japanese."
"The rationale behind this project is to help people better understand and imagine the racialization Asian Americans experience throughout generations, persisting from the times of oriental immigration to the Americas all the way to the present ...
Our goal is to spread a message that Asian Americans are not merely a model minority group who are void of problems and struggles; instead, they are a group that is often overlooked, neglected, and subject to tremendous hate and scrutiny. Through this exhibit, we will underline the idea that Asian bodies in America experience a racialization through generations."
Iris Finkel, the Web and Digital Initiatives Librarian, supports faculty and students working on digital assignments. For the past five years, Iris has collaborated with Professor Frida Kleiman to guide students in her CHEM 378, Biochemistry Lab classes working on a Wikipedia assignment. For this assignment students gain research and writing skills and contribute to a resource available to the public. The WikiEdu Dashboard is used to develop and monitor the assignment.
This semester, spring 2021, Iris built an Omeka site for students in Professor Nebayat Avciouglu’s ArtH780 - Istanbul from Empire to Post-modernism class to develop the online exhibit Istanbul: Sites of Knowing. During a previous semester, Iris facilitated a Google Maps project for Professor Avciouglu’s students.