Since it’s the season, it seems timely to illustrate this report with photographs of Teachers College commencements from the somewhat distant (late 19th/early 20th century) past. It is fairly remarkable to note the size of graduating classes during that early era in the College’s history; it’s also somewhat surprising to observe how familiar, and unfamiliar, the settings and the participants seem. I find these images from the Historical Photographs of Teachers College collection to be beautiful and moving in their own right, and seeing in them other than evidence of the continuity of the institution’s educational project may do an injustice to what these pictures represent and are.
However, looking at these increasingly long gone people, I find it hard not to wonder what the, or a, library’s role might have been in sending them forth into a world increasingly long gone. And certainly the question may well be asked of the Gottesman Libraries’ role in helping launch the soon-t0-be departed class of 2015. Our hope is to have had an effect, an influence, on our friends the students’ ability to make sense of the information world, or worlds, they confront already, or will be confronting. How much does this relate to what their predecessors experienced, leaving or arriving elsewhere? Was it a different world entirely? Intuitively we think we know the answer, though to some extent we will probably never know with any degree of certainty.
Unquestionably the nature of research has changed, or at the very least the mechanics of research have changed. It would be terribly interesting to know what our predecessor librarians understood their role to be, how students perceived librarians and libraries then, what the exact dynamics of the relationship might have been. (Reference librarianship, after all, had only recently been “invented” at the Butler Reference Department at Columbia.) I can’t entirely pass up the opportunity to meditate on the current library’s role in helping to convey College students towards the commencement of their careers (though in many cases their careers are already well launched), and more specifically on what we hope to have contributed to their engagement with information seeking strategies and research procedures, and to their facility interacting with and making good use of the resources available to them. I do hope that we in the library may have passed along to departing students a sense of learning as a perpetual process of beginning, and that their post-TC lives commencing now will be empowered and illuminated by knowledge sought and gained.
But as to what’s transpired during this past semester: the following are some basic statistics on research and information services delivered to students, faculty, and researchers during Spring 2015.
- Senior Librarians and Services Associates fielded 1,277 in-person and telephone reference queries.
- Services librarians received and responded to 940 queries of various kinds submitted via the library’s email Support Request service, with a growing number of additional queries handled by Services Associates.
- Research and information services librarians provided 53 research consultations to individuals or small groups during the Spring.
- Library Services presented nine course-specific library information sessions, either in the classroom or in library spaces, for a total of 158 students.
And what follows is a sampling of research topics and reference queries for which TC students requested consultations this spring:
- Effectiveness of the MBTI as a tool for use by executive coaches when working with staff in transition, in particular mid-level managers going to new roles.
- LGBT issues and representation in textbooks.
- Searching Digital Dissertations by program and advisor for recent TC theses.
- Looking for information on collegiate majors and participation in sports; specifically looking for nursing majors who play a sport in college.
- Seeking research involving the use of the Flanders Interaction Analysis Categories System (FIACS) to categorize discourse in the classroom; encountering roadblocks finding resources that discuss training on this system, or identifying other research that has used this system in classes involving group work.
- Charter school funding in NYC: why charter schools are so attractive to donors who made their money in finance.
- Searching for archival collections focusing on American slavery.
- Research on relational development of adolescents through weblogs.
- Resources for a biopsychosocial model of health and behavior change.
- Seeking advice on gathering information for a research project on education finance in Latin America.
- Looking for resources on the tense and aspect of verbs in the Amharic language of Ethiopia.
- Working on a research paper exploring how urban adolescents respond to modern works of art
and what the cultural factors are that shape their perception.
- Seeking research on oral anxiety and international students’ class performance during class discussion; looking for scientific evidence of the cognitive consequence of oral anxiety, and learning opportunities for international students who have oral anxiety.
- Research on Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), with a focus on the “biosocial model”;would like to find articles about intervention strategies for BPD, especially those that are considered to be innovative and effective, and would like to investigate why normally positive factors such as adequate parenting, stable peer relationship, and high socioeconomic status do not predict resilience, though resilience from BPD occurs in some during their transition into adulthood.
- Assistance with a literature review on adherence and attrition in obesity treatment.
- Information on the number of TV viewers (both of national and local data) for NBA basketball games for the past 10 years; examples of business games (online, offline, board games, etc.) that are being used in school for educational purpose, and identification of the top 5 most popular business games in the worldand details of their rules and mechanics.
- Research on perspective-taking skills in bilingual children: whether bilingual children do better on perspective-taking (empathic comprehension of others’ concerns and viewpoints) and executive control.
- Research on bilingual education, immersion education, and English-only education in
America, for a Barnard American Studies class, to determine what is most successful and effective for ESL students.
So, to the Class of 2015, our departing patrons, thanks for your patronage, thanks for presenting to us many opportunities to explore and learn collaboratively with you, and thanks for entrusting us with your vitally important and challenging research needs: they and you are what make our work worthwhile. Best wishes and great success to all of you!