2020 Virtual Exhibits Roundup!

Books featured in our Texiles and Fashion Technology Exhibit

City Tech faculty librarians curated several virtual exhibits on the Library Buzz Blog during 2020, featuring e-books and other online resources. Some standout posts included The Stonewall Uprising, Women’s Suffrage: A Long and Layered Struggle, and Textiles and Fashion Technology.

The Sustainability & Self Determined Food Systems exhibit examined the intersection of food justice and Black Power, and featured people rebuilding relationships to the land and reimagining food systems.

Access to JSTOR Primary Source Collections for CUNY

Through June 30, 2021, CUNY will have access to 4 primary source JSTOR collections.

  • Global Plants: high-resolution type specimens and related materials in this growing database showcases hand-selected materials and reference works from contributors around the world.
  • Struggles for Freedom: Southern Africa: Chronicles the liberation of Southern Africa and the dismantling of the Apartheid regime.
  • World Heritage Sites: Africa: Vsual, contextual, and spatial objects in 30 sub-collections, providing documentation of African heritage sites.
  • 19th Century British Pamphlets: nearly 26,000 pamphlets covering the key political, social, technological, and environmental issues of the 19th century.

If you have any questions about these or other resources please contact Kimberly Abrams at kabrams@citytech.cuny.edu.

Digital Privacy and Online Education

Drawing of Tree with a surveillance camera
“mather nature” by khalid Albaih is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

This week, I gave a guest lecture on digital privacy for about 40 students enrolled in 2 sections of an interdisciplinary Sociology course called Society, Technology, and Self. I’ve done guest lectures for this course in the past, both in person and online, and I typically assign a couple of articles for students to read in advance and start with discussion about a specific surveillance context before I dive into a workshop on the larger surveillance landscape and concrete ways we can protect our privacy online.

This semester, I decided to focus on surveillance and online education. We read and discussed a letter from the ACLU to a small-town school superintendent about surveillance and loaned devices but the conversation quickly got very personal and very meta. “I’m using a loaned device from CUNY right now. LOL,” one student posted in the chat and another responded ominously in all caps, “THEY ARE WATCHING.” Another student talked about her son’s experience in the NYC elementary schools and said that while she appreciated getting access to a loaned tablet, the school system’s use of 3rd party apps, which requires students to login and supply a lot of personal information to create accounts made her uncomfortable. 

We spent a lot of time discussing what I started calling “the 3rd party problem” and trying to unpack the layers of corporate surveillance that have seeped into public education spaces. Only one student, who had transferred to City Tech from another school, had been required to use an online proctoring platform for a test but many students cited commercial devices they had experience with like Google Nest and Alexa as similarly invasive. The difference is whether or not you have a choice, one student observed. And whether that choice is actually a choice. 

As we moved into a more general discussion about corporate surveillance in online environments and the way that our data–everything from geolocation tags and IP addresses to our faces–can be used without our consent, one student wrote in the chat: “this is terrifying.” I took that comment as a cue to move on to tools we can use–alternative browsers and plugins that disable ad-trackers and encrypted messaging apps like Signal– to protect our privacy. We also talked about the importance of advocacy and education as tools to not only protect ourselves, but to protect others as more of us work and live and learn online. I ended the session by discussing recent consumer privacy legislation in the European Union and in California that has started to, at the very least, expose some of the routine surveillance we’re subject to every time we visit a website. 

While ubiquitous digital surveillance online and the increasing use of commercial 3rd party applications in online education spaces is terrifying, I have been encouraged that more students and teachers and parents and administrators seem to be thinking and talking about privacy. During a time when many families are dealing with trauma and financial instability, more educators seem to be considering whether inflexible and expensive 3rd party technologies that are potentially causing harm and increasing anxiety, are worth the cost. As we work to create spaces for learning online that center values like care and mutual respect, a critical consideration of student privacy needs might be increasingly part of the equation.  

Digital Privacy at the City Tech Library

The City Tech Library has been conducting a privacy audit on what information about patrons are collected and how we can minimize that data to be leaked. This includes examining who has access to identifiable information. Since the library is physically inaccessible, this has given library IT staff the time to review what data is collected from our users. The library is creating policies to determine how long we keep user data and why we are keeping it in the first place. For example, library web forms give users the option to submit their names or contact information. This helps protect the users and also it prevents that information to be accessible by others. 

The library has also suspended the use of Google Analytics to track users visiting the library website and utilizes Matomo. Matomo is an open-source web analytics tool that gathers user web data. This data is used to improve the library website through user statistics. What makes Matomo a more privacy aligned tool is that the data collected is solely on the library’s web server. Google Analytics, on the other hand, collects this data to create customized advertising. 

By minimizing the collection of user data, the library is attempting to avoid surveilling users. The data collected from surveilling users can lead to inaccurate assumptions. Technology can provide insight into how people behave, yet it can be used for voluntary and involuntary nefarious purposes. This is evident in numerous news articles regarding bias in policing due to facial recognition or the use of search engine algorithms that enforce existing structures of white supremacy.  Libraries take privacy seriously, with librarians making great efforts in protecting users’ freedom of inquiry and academic curiosity. 

Learn More about Digital Privacy in Libraries and Education Environments

City Tech Library’s Privacy Guide

CUNY Libraries Privacy Statement

American Library Association: Choose Privacy Everyday

Kelley, J. (Sept. 2020). Students are pushing back against proctoring surveillance apps. Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Warner, J. (Nov. 2020). A teach-in against surveillance. Inside Higher Ed.

Watter, A. (Nov. 2020). What happens when ed tech forgets? Hack Education.

Stommel, J. (June 2020). Designing for care. jessiestommel.com.

Davidson, C. (May 2020). The single most essential requirement in designing fall online courses. hastac.org.

City Tech Stories Episode 6 – Interview with Maya Marie from KCC Urban Farm

Join us for the latest episode of City Tech Stories!

We were delighted to chat with Maya Marie – farmer, chef, food historian and educator – about her work at the KCC Urban Farm and her passion project, Seeds & Receipts. The conversation touched on austerity at CUNY, how the global pandemic has worsened those conditions, and the inherent hopefulness in farming.  

Learn more about Maya’s work at the KCC farm and beyond!

Read more about Maya’s Seeds & Receipts project and follow @seedsandreceipts on Instagram.

Check out the KCC Urban Farm website  and follow @kccurbanfarm on Instagram.

For more on KCC Urban Farm’s Food Education Program follow the “Cook Bring it Home” account on Instagram @cookbringithome

Cover image of the KCC Urban Farm by: Claudio Papapietro

What’s New in the Library: Midterms Edition

Now that you’ve made it through midterms, you might want to get started on that next research project, begin thinking about the semester ahead, or join us for an upcoming workshop. Here’s what’s new in the library and a few evergreen reminders.

Connecting from Off-Campus 

A reminder….

Since the library migrated to a new Library Services Platform this past summer, all faculty and students should use CUNY login credentials to login to library databases from off campus. All registered students and faculty with currently active CUNY login credentials should be able to login to use library resources. Learn more about this change and other eresource updates on the Library Buzz Blog.

Streaming Media for Classroom Use

The library has limited access to streaming films on Kanopy. Learn more about what we have available, how to request films you want to use in your courses, and what other platforms you might check out for streaming media content.

Speaking of Course materials…

Now is a great time to start planning your curriculum for the Spring 2021 semester. Since the COVID pandemic has made it harder than ever for students to access expensive textbooks, it’s a great time to consider adopting Open Educational Resources (OER) in your courses. Check out our recent blog post about OER, textbooks, and libraries for more about this topic.

Find out more about OER at City Tech and reach out to the library subject specialist for your discipline, who can help you find open and library licensed materials to use in your Spring 2021 courses. 

Upcoming Workshops 

Introduction to Zotero workshop for Faculty 

When: Dec 10th from 3-4pm

In this hands-on workshop, attendees will learn the capabilities of this powerful, free open-source reference management software program. The session covers creating an account, adding Zotero to your browser, and importing citations to generate a bibliography.

RSVP to Prof. Monica Berger 

Linkedin and Resume Writing Workshop for Students

When: Dec 2nd from 4-5pm

Make a lasting impression with a potential employer! Your resume and social media presence are the place to begin. Join us and learn how to highlight your talents and create a strong resume. Attendees will start building a professional portfolio with LinkedIn.

RSVP to Prof. Nandi Prince

Did you miss our recent workshop on Misinformation? Check out our interactive video tutorial on Evaluating Sources

Need Something We Don’t Have?

Interlibrary Loan is continuing to fill article and individual book chapter requests and deliver them electronically. ILL is great for scholarly research and course assignments.

Questions? Email us: interlibraryloan@citytech.cuny.edu 

Need help? Just Ask us! 

We miss seeing you at the Ask a Librarian desk but the City Tech Library still provides one-on-one research assistance for students.

Connect with City Tech librarians online:

  • Monday – Thursday 10:00am-7:00pm
  • Fridays 10:00am-6:00pm

If you miss us during these hours, you can connect to other librarians 24/7.

We can help with: research strategy, finding sources for a project, evaluating information, citations, and more! Librarians are able to screenshare during these chat session for a more interactive experience. See you in cyberspace! 

Prefer to get in touch via email? Write to us: asknycctref@cuny.libanswers.com 

Featured Eresource 

Digital Theatre+ is a new resource for the City Tech community.  It is an online platform of recorded dramatic productions. It also contains commentary to further explain the meaning behind the works. In addition, it also has detailed bibliographic entries of well-known practitioners in the field of theatre. 

Connect with Us

Have questions about library resources and services but not sure how to reach us? Want to make sure you get the latest updates about changing policies, new resources, and digital tools available through the library? Subscribe to the Library Buzz blog to get the latest in your inbox or follow us on Twitter and Instagram @citytechlibrary.   

Digital Theatre+ Now Available to the City Tech Community

Digital Theatre+ is a new resource for the City Tech community.  It features a diverse range of live plays and reflects the excitement of drama today.  Famous plays are reenacted and include commentaries to help foster greater comprehension and understanding.  There are also playlists and other teaching tools that can be used for inspiration in the classroom. 

(Scene from Falsettos, taken from Digital Theatre+)

There are guides to major practitioners in the field of theatre, which can be used as a resource to expand knowledge of new (or not so new) playwrights. Below is the header to an introduction to August Wilson.

Image depicting the Digital Theater+ logo. Text states: DT+ Fundamentals A Concise Introduction to: August Wilson Isiah Wooden American University.
Digital Theater+ Logo

If you have any questions regarding this resource or would like to provide any feedback, please contact Prof. Kim Abrams at kabrams@citytech.cuny.edu

E-resources Update

We have a vast number of online resources at City Tech to assist with your coursework and research.  Some popular databases include:

Academic Search Complete: The largest scholarly, multidisciplinary, full-text database.

CINAHL: Full-text nursing & allied health journals.

Communications and Mass Media Complete: Communications-related journal articles including advertising, public relations, linguistics, and literature.

Hospitality & Tourism Complete: International in scope, this collection covers scholarly research and industry news pertaining to all aspects of hospitality and tourism. 

IEEE Xplore: Engineering-related scholarly content and standards. Covers aerospace systems, computers, electrical engineering, telecommunications, biomedical engineering, and electronics.

To use e-resources off campus, you must have your CUNY Login (the same login you use with CUNYFirst). 

  1. Click on the link to the electronic resource via the library webpage and you should be redirected to a CUNY Login screen.
    • If you are not redirected, click through to login.
  2. Fill-in your CUNY Login and password and click Login.
  3. You will be directed to the resource.

If you follow these steps and still have trouble accessing the resource, please inform Kimberly Abrams, kabrams@citytech.cuny.edu, to troubleshoot.  

If you do not know your CUNY Login, please contact City Tech CIS at helpdesk@citytech.cuny.edu

Ebooks at City Tech are varied in terms of options for download. For example, an Adobe Digital Editions account is required to borrow Ebook Central Ebook Central titles electronically. Other vendors allow downloading of books and book chapters as PDFs. Most textbooks are not available as e-books through academic libraries.
If you have any questions, please contact Prof. Kimberly Abrams, kabrams@citytech.cuny.edu

What To Do If You Received An Incorrect Absentee Ballot In NYC

This year, more New York residents than ever have decided to vote absentee (by mail) because of the COVID pandemic.

And earlier this week, just a few weeks before Election Day, an estimated 100,000 New Yorkers are finding that their absentee ballots contain incorrect personal information, incorrect envelopes, or typos. 

Multiple voters in Brooklyn received a mislabeled “official absentee ballot envelope.” Normally, voters insert their completed ballots into the envelopes and sign the outside. But in these cases, their ballot envelopes bear the wrong name and address. If a person signs their own name to a faulty ballot envelope, their ballot will not count. 

So far, voters in Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Carroll Gardens, Crown Heights, Clinton Hill, Bushwick, Flatbush, Brooklyn Heights, Sunset Park, Williamsburg, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Fort Greene have reported the issue. 

Some voters said they received absentee ballots mislabeled as the official ballot for military members, while others said the envelope meant to return their ballot did not bear their name or address.

What a mess! Here’s what to do if you got one.

If you received an Absentee Ballot Marked as “Official Absentee Military Ballot”

These ballots are still valid, despite the typo. Even if you are not a member of the military, the New York City Board of Elections has stated that this is the correct ballot and can be sent in as is.

If you received an Absentee Ballot with an Incorrect Return Envelope

Ballots with accompanying return envelopes that don’t have your name and address on them should not be used. 

The Board of Elections will mail new absentee ballots to the nearly 100,000 voters who received erroneous envelopes in their absentee ballot packages. Wait for a new ballot package to ensure your vote counts or make an alternative plan for voting! 

City Board of Elections officials are encouraging voters to email or call a hotline with reports of erroneous ballots: “Contact the BOE by emailing Apply4Absentee@boe.nyc or calling 1-866-VOTE-NYC.” But be aware — the phone lines have been overwhelmed. 

Some voters have also headed to BOE offices to return the ballots in person to avoid long waits on the phone. The Brooklyn BOE office is at 345 Adams Street. The Queens office is at 118-35 Queens Blvd. in Forest Hills.

If you mailed in your ballot already and didn’t notice an error but are now worried that your ballot had an error you didn’t notice

If you already returned the original ballot you received, please also mark and send back the new ballot mailed by the BOE — if you get a new ballot that means yours was printed with the others that contained errors. The Board of Elections will ensure that your correct, second ballot is the only ballot counted.

If you’ve decided you want to vote in person after requesting an absentee ballot

You can decide to visit an early voting place or vote on election day in person even if you requested an absentee ballot. You can even vote in person if you cast and returned an absentee ballot. If a voter comes to the poll site, their absentee ballot is set aside and not counted. 

Election officials in New York are encouraging people to vote in person at early poll sites, which open statewide on Oct. 24 and are expected to have shorter lines than Election Day poll sites. Voting early and in person will help avoid overwhelming the Postal Service and election boards with mail-in ballots.

For more information about absentee voting, check out the New York Board of Elections web site.

Find your polling place or early voting site.

Voting is so important and in spite of these ballot errors you should definitely vote!

If you’re not yet registered to vote or are registered and want to vote by mail because you’re worried about voting in person doing a health pandemic, you still have time. But not a lot of time! 

New voter registration forms in New York must be postmarked by October 9th.

The last day to apply for a mail-in absentee ballot is October 27th.

Election day is November 3rd!

Check the Board of Election website for more important information and deadlines.

Check out our Fall Workshops

clip art workshop illustration

This fall we’re offering a number of virtual workshops. RSVP to Prof. Nandi Prince and receive the workshop link 2 working days prior to each workshop.

Mastering APA Style, Use ZoteroBib to Create Your Sources Quickly

Learn the fundamentals of the APA citation style and how to use the platform ZoteroBib to generate citations and export a bibliography list to incorporate into your paper.

Monday, October 5, 2020, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Mastering MLA Style, Use ZoteroBib to Create Your Sources Quickly

Learn the fundamentals of the MLA citation style and how to use the platform ZoteroBib to generate citations and export a bibliography list to incorporate into your paper.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

LinkedIn and Resume Writing Workshop

Make a lasting impression with a potential employer! Your resume and social media presence are the place to begin. Join us and learn how to highlight your talents and create a strong resume. Attendees will start building a professional portfolio with LinkedIn.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Research Help for your Paper: Drop-in sessions

Are you looking for research help with that final paper or assignment of the semester? If so, join us virtually on these dates for our special drop-in sessions.

No RSVP required!

Monday, December 7, 2020, 10:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Tuesday, December 8, 2020, 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM

#CityTechCounts: A Census Campaign

Flyer with census campaign information

We’re calling on you to get counted, because you count! Participate in our #CityTechCounts campaign to make a difference in the future of New York and be entered in a raffle to win prizes including a Nintendo Switch with a copy of Animal Crossing, a pair of Skullcandy “Crusher” Bluetooth headphones, a $100 Grubhub gift card, or $50 Visa gift card.

The results of the Census determine how many members of Congress each state has, how much funding is given out by the Federal government for things like food and housing subsidies, education and library funding, clean water infrastructure, and more. 

To participate: fill out the census form online or by phone 1-844-330-2020. It’s quick, easy, and safe.

Then, help us spread the word! Post a video on Instagram or tweet and encourage others to fill out the census. Use the hashtag #CityTechCounts to be automatically entered into our raffle. All currently enrolled City Tech students are eligible.