Category Archives: Reading Summary / Reflection

New York Public Library Report

New York Public Library – Aisel_Omerbashi

Brooklyn Historical Society

Brooklyn Historical Society Library Report_Aisel Omerbashi

End of Semester Reflection

  1. Prior to this class, research in general has always been the most daunting part of assigned projects and papers. By researching so frequently during the course of the semester, it is a task that I am much more used to. I now know about more research tools and databases, which will come in handy for any future research projects that I may have. In addition, visiting archives and libraries to do research is something that I have not done often prior to this course. It was a good experience for me to be able to visit a site and actually look through tangible sources rather than just depending on computer-based research.
  2. I think that having a geographic viewpoint in mind when researching helps narrow down one’s scope. By knowing that the area we were focusing on was Vinegar Hill, I was sure to focus my research on that neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods. As a class we visited sites that either were located in Brooklyn or had sources about Brooklyn. The sources acquired at these sites were much more relevant.
  3. I will definitely be seeking out primary sources in the future. These sources will most likely not be maps, photographs, or bridge plans. Due to my field of study, which is legal studies, legal research plays a large role in working efficiently and drafting documents. Cases and statutes will be primary sources that I will need to research and cite to both in my classes and work.
  4. I think that because many people do not have much experience doing primary source research, being provided with online databases and knowing how to contact libaries and archives for help would make research more engaging. Once a person gets confident in researching sources, he or she will be more inclined to do so. When research is place-based, it would be beneficial to the researcher to visit the location. I think being able to have firsthand experiences and observations of an area would help with engagement.


Reflection: “Students can’t access essential research”

The main obstacle to access is the subscription fee journals require. They are very expensive, even for libraries, and their price only increases.  This makes the feasibility of purchase for individual students (most of whom have incurred prior debt) impossible, and for libraries, very hard. This has to do with hard financial times for students and institutions.

Summaries of important work could be paraphrased on Wikipedia, allowing students to get the gist of the research, without access to the source material. This requires those with access to reference that which they have read onto Wikipedia on a regular basis.

Reflection: Mid-semester

At the mid semester, I felt I had learned a lot about both the Vinegar Hill area, a topic of which I knew nothing about, as well as some techniques into gathering research data (and presenting it as well).  The concept of visiting archives was foreign to me as well.  Actually going to an archive (like the Brooklyn Collection at the BPL) was an illuminating experience, which will definitely prepare me if I need to visit one again.

Of particular interest were the NYPL maps collection, and the general introduction to GIS.  The NYPLs online collection was an amazing tool to use; the access to the maps I needed was seamless, and there were a lot of maps to choose from.  On the GIS side, CartoDB was a useful tool for me, due to my novice level at GIS mapping.  However, my background knowledge in data science and SQL made it a tool I could learn easily, if I ever needed to apply GIS.

Refelction: GIS Tool, CartoDB

CartoDB is an online tool that streamlines the creation of GIS based visualizations. It’s easy to use GUI allows users to rapidly upload datasets containing geographic information, and to plot the data onto maps.  Built on industry proven open source software, like PostGIS, PostgreSQL, and JavaScript, CartoDB allows users to write powerful code (if desired), and to produce reliable and content-rich visualizations.

CartoDB offers many of its services for free, however access to their API, and some more advanced features requires a subscription and payments.


An image of a map  created using CartoDB shown below:

Parking Pay Boxes in Chicago - map screenshot (12425234683).png
By Steven Vance from Chicago, United States – Parking Pay Boxes in Chicago – map screenshot, CC BY 2.0,

Reflection/Summary: “Why Is Academic Writing So Academic?”

Rothman makes an interesting juxtaposition about academic writing. He states that academic writing is supposed to be “dry but also clever; faceless but also persuasive; clear but also completist,” but yet it is “actually among the most personal writing there is.”  He attributes this paradox to the “very small audience of hyper-knowledgeable, mutually acquainted specialists” that academic writing targets.

Rothman goes further to attribute the marginalization of academic writing to the “tightly-packed, super-competitive jungle” authors face when publishing.  This is due to the shrinking interest in topics which would have, at one time, had an audience of like-minded academics.


Rothman, Joshua. “Why Is Academic Writing So Academic?” The New Yorker. Advance Publications, 20 Feb. 2014. Web. 25 May 2016. <>.

Finding Aid Analysis: Robert Moses Papers

How are the papers organized?

16 “Series”

â—¦Series 1. Personal and “Library” Correspondence

â—¦Series 2. Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority

â—¦Series 3. Emergency Public Works Commission

â—¦Series 4. Office of the City Construction Coordinator

â—¦Series 5. New York Gubernatorial Campaign

â—¦Series 6. New York City Department of Parks

â—¦Series 7. New York State Constitutional Convention

â—¦Series 8. Long Island State Park commission

â—¦Series 9. New York State Council of Parks

â—¦Series 10. New York State Power Authority

â—¦Series 11. Committee on Slum Clearance

â—¦Series 12. New York World’s Fair, 1964-1965, Inc

â—¦Series 13. Housing

â—¦Series 14. Speeches

â—¦Series 15. Printed Matter

â—¦Series 16. Photographs


What kinds of materials are included?

The collection consists of speeches , correspondence, memoranda, reports, press releases, plans, clippings, photographs, and other printed matter. These all document the career of Robert Moses

How could you access these resources?

One must give advanced notice to the archive, and go to:

Manuscripts and Archives Division

Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, New York, NY 10018-2788

Brooke Russell Astor Reading Room, Third Floor, Room 328

RECAP: The power of family lore: uncovering Brooklyn’s “Auld Irishtown”

Relevance: This article will help me write my reflection about Brooklyn’s history.

Expertise: Eamon Loingsigh, a writer, sired by Irish immigrants. There is a little biopic about Eamon Loingsigh on the webpage.  He has released three books on historical subjects, so my trust in him is high.

Currency: Article published on April 8, 2013 – 3:49pm. Concerns historical information, so publication date is not so relevant.

Accuracy: Eamon references several primary and secondary sources, in text, in a way that one could easily find the original sources.

Purpose: Eamon is researching his heritage. He was interested in the White Hand Gang, so the information about Brooklyn is highly relevant in his own research.  There is no bias, but Eamon definitely wants exposure for his upcoming book.

Reflection: “Wikipedia And The Death Of The Expert”

While a little on the lengthy side, “Wikipedia And The Death Of The Expert” by Maria Bustillos was a witty, well-written read that held my attention the entire time. In addition to being amusing, the content of the article was informative and could be related back to what we have been doing in class all semester. Throughout the semester we as a class have been using Wikipedia extensively. We have utilized Wikipedia both as a base for starting our research as well as adding research we found to be pertinent to the Vinegar Hill Wikipedia page. Contrary to most classes I have taken in the past, we were encouraged to look to Wikipedia as a starting point while performing research.

I especially liked when Bustillos discussed the benefits of viewing the history of Wikipedia pages. The history provides the viewer with additional insight to any potential controversies surrounding the topic that might exist. In addition, it provides a sense of transparency to how the page was formed. Unlike printed encyclopedias, the viewer can see who edits and contributes each piece of information. I think a sense of confidence in the material  develops when an option to see every single edit exists.