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May 24 2020 - 08:19 PM
Resilience in Time of Change: Spring 2020 Education Program

At a lady's writing desk in the corner of our Spring green living room, there's the luxury of time and treetops dotted with robins, cardinals, and the occasional yellow finch; the leafy canopy outside our south-facing window is gloriously full, a sure and pleasing sign of the season. We trace the delicate honey locust and gorgeous gingko to the banks of the Mississippi, and as far away as China, eagerly waiting out weeks of New York City apartment quarantine, with ample room to reflect and much hope ahead. I pass many an hour on the laptop, connecting almost daily to colleagues via Zoom or telephone, with a household thankfully remote at work and school. It is anyone's guess as to how long the novel coronavirus, dating to Wuhan, December, 2019, will last, but on a smaller scale one can't deny longing for the hilly bike ride through Central Park, birds' wings back to TC, on the tailwind of summer.

Spring Semester at the Gottesman Libraries remained strong, as we welcomed new and returning students with library tours and planned instructional offerings and events in collaboration with offices, programs, and departments of Teachers College. Our work engaged members from the Office of Student Affairs, Center for Innovation in Teacher Education and Development, Social Emotional Learning Society, Institute of Urban and Minority Education, School and Community Partnerships, Office of Sponsored Programs, Department of International and Transcultural Studies, and programs in English Education, Psychology and Education, among others.

We delivered continuing series of programming, from Empower Hour, focusing on ways to provide institutional knowledge for students wishing "to take charge of their educational journey", through to Postural Movement Therapy, sessions to hep "re-educate your mind and body" for optimal posture. Longer range projects included participation in "Creating a Better World for All: TC Celebrates the Harlem Renaissance", as well as an Offit Gallery, Selections from the Mary Adelaide Nutting Collection, with added news displays and database features in recognition of Year of the Nurse and Midwife and 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale.

Talks explored Mind in Motion, with Barbara Tversky; Performativity, Presentism and Practice, with Adam Unwin; Where We're From and the Effects of Displacement, with Tia Dorsey and the CU Chinese Calligraphy Club; The Intersection of SEL, Virtue, and Spirituality, with Jeffrey Kress; Virtual Reality, with Ethan Moeller; Love from the Vortex, with Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz (transitioned online through TC Comes Together); and Adelante, with Regina Cortina.

Workshops delved into the review of library research, basics of copyright, role of the Institutional Review Board; improvements in posture, submission of conference proposals and conference presentations; discovery of research strategy, tips in grant funding; meaning of mentoring; and menu of options open to alumni.

Book displays were curated in Everett Cafe, the second floor reading room, and online. Cafe themes were Just Peachy!, concomitant with presidential investigation; Climate SOS, in awareness of global warning; and Classics of the Harlem Renaissance, in celebration of the 100th anniversary. Staff Picks featured Book Put Luck, Women and Girls in Sport, Teaching the Harlem Renaissance, and Isolationist Thinking = Singular Thinking, as prompted by feelings of being alone during COVID 19.

Everett Cafe musicians showcased the wonderful talent of Jose Lomeli, TC student in music education; Wadsworth Strings, our longest running professional ensemble; Evan Abounassar, Quinton Caine, and Jordan Leftridge, jazz trios from Manhattan School of Music scheduled to perform in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance; Yaniza on ukelele/guitar, and Monika Xu, fellow TC vocalist.

Weekly news displays featured a wide range of educational topics, many of them linked to the Harlem Renaissance project (Zora Neal Hurston, James Wells, Alma Thomas, Gwendolyn Bennett, May Edward Chinn, Aaron Douglas); Year of the Nurse (Florence Nightingale, Red Cross); and other themes: Aristotle's Lyceum, The Raven, 15th Amendment, Charles Darwin, Harper Lee, Anne Sullivan, Spring Equinox, Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, April Fools, ASPCA, Earth Day, Kent State.

Exhibits led by the design team offered clever interpretations of culturally-rich infrastructure; nursing history at Teachers College; and art of the Harlem Renaissance closely connected to our alumni. Tia Dorsey and the Columbia University Chinese Calligraphy Club explored carry-outs as cultural landmarks; we exhibited three-dimensional artifacts inspired by the Adelaide Nutting Nursing Collection, complete with video interview featuring Dr. Kathleen O'Connell, Isabel Maitland Stewart Professor of Nursing Education; and launched an interactive collaborative drawing application that allowed users to reinterpret the work of Harlem Renaissance artists, among them TC alumni Aaron Douglas and Gwendolyn Bennet.

Databases were highlighted each month relevant to study and teaching and current offerings of the Education Program and the College: Mentoring (January), Nursing Education (February), Environmental Education (March), Health Education and Health Promotion (April), Alumni Resources (May).

Statistics reflect library-sponsored events and offerings, though many from mid-March onwards were cancelled. postponed, or moved online, due to the COVID 19 pandemic that resulted in campus closure.

In response to the growing pandemic, we addressed group room reservations; created library signage with safety protocol; extended semester loans and forgave fines; replaced printed books on Reserves with multi-user e-editions; accepted book returns by mail, UPS, or Fedex, and also drop-offs at Whittier; made available free research resources, including Kanopy films, Harvard Business Review e-books, and Proquest Coronavirus Research Database; provided enhanced remote instruction and research consultation; implemented online chat to compliment online support; created virtual interactive book displays; migrated the curation of daily news online, and increased writing on academic libraries, trends in education, Gottesman work experience, and other interesting and relevant topics via the Library Blog.

With social distancing came significant opportunities for remote engagement, and time to explore exciting possibilities in library resources and services. Taking a step further, we:

  • Introduced ourselves briefly to select Teachers College Trustees
  • Worked solidly with faculty, TC Information Technology, and Offices of the Provost / Vice Provost on library transitions and technology
  • Proposed a new library mission, vision, and values statement
  • Researched and recommended smart options for an integrated library system, discovery layer, electronic resource management, and course reserves
  • Promoted outstanding interim staff to part-time professional positions in Acquisitions and Research/Information Services
  • Began detailed and coordinated assessment of duplicative library subscriptions and data driven library purchases
  • Met with multiple vendors of research resources
  • Joined Columbia University Libraries Discovery, Collections, and Research and Learning forums
  • Joined the Columbia University Libraries Recovery Group, comprising library leaders across the campus to aid return, access, and user experience


Glynn Fractal Tree of Life, Pixabay

Plum Blossom, Wikipedia


The tree of life represents how deeply we are connected to the world around us and how our interconnectedness allows us to grow.

The Chinese plum blossom starts flowering in mid-winter and symbolizes resilience and perseverance -- a reminder that we can appreciate beauty even in difficult times.