City Tech Stories Podcast Episode 5 – The Library in the Pandemic

City Tech Stories Podcast – Episode 5 The City Tech Library During the 2020 Pandemic

Transcription by Aisha Khan.

Nora: Welcome to City Tech Stories, a podcast highlighting the experience and voices of the City Tech community. Each episode will center around a theme and include perspectives from across the college.

Nora: My name is Nora Almeda and I’m an instruction and reference librarian at City Tech.

Junior: And my name is Junior Tidal. I’m the web services and multimedial librarian for City Tech. Um so first off I just want to welcome you to the new semester at City Tech. Um a lot of things have changed. Umm Nora what kind of changes have you seen since the last time you were recording?

Nora: So the last time we did a podcast, I think we were sitting in a conference room together um in the library. Which, you know, both of us haven’t been to since March. Um, and I know none of our students or faculty who are listening to this podcast have not been into the library since March. So a lot of things have drastically changed and today we kind of want to have a conversation about what those changes mean for the people who use library services and resources and kind of an insider look, I guess, at what the culture of the library is like now that we’re remote.

Junior: Right. Yeah. and in case, you know you’re listening to this podcast in the far future, one of the reasons why we’ve remote is because there has been like a health crisis, Covid-19. A lot of places have been on lockdown, City Tech is closed, a lot of colleges are closed, um New York City has been pretty much closed with the subway and everything. Um so there has been, you know, been a lot of drastic changes since last March.

Nora: Yeah. That’s a good, that’s a good for the time capsule, right?

Both: *laugh*

Junior: Yeah. Exactly.

Nora: Great! So yeah, today we’re gonna talk about um a few things, uhh about the library. But first of all, I want to make sure that everyone knows how they can access the library from home since that’s where most of us are these days.

Junior: Mhm.

Nora: Um we also wanna talk about some of the ways that you can get help with research, and if you have questions, where to go with that stuff. Uhh we’re also gonna talk about our reserved textbook collections. We have had a lot of questions about those and we wanna make sure that everybody knows what’s up with those. And also wanted to point to some of the things that we’re doing uh while we’re remote that we haven’t done in the past, like virtual exhibits and using our blog and social media channels and more to connect with people. So do you think we should take a quick commercial break before we get started?

Junior: Yeah. So lets just uh just pause here for a second and switch to this commercial break before we come back.

Commercial Break: Today’s podcast is brought to you by Audrey Lorde’s Transnational Legacies. An ebook available now at the City Tech Library, edited by Stella Blakey and Sebian Barlack. This is the first book to systematically document and thoroughly investigate Lorde’s influence beyond the United States and the coalitions that she built with women in Europe, the Carribean, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Africa and beyond.

Junior: So Welcome Back. Uh I hope that you heard a great ebook recommendation, you know, from that commercial break. Uhh but one of the first things that I wanted to talk about is how to access the library if you’re off campus since we’re closed, since we’re physically closed. What you can do is just login to our library website. The address for the library website is https:/ , of course “City Tech” is all one word. You can also do a Google search to try to find this as well. Uh so we still have, even though the library is closed, we do have a lot of electronic resources available so you can search for some ebooks using the library home page. You can also see the different kinds of research article databases that we have. Uh we also have some research guides you can access and you know to get all of this you’ll still need to use authentication methods to access the services. So what you’ll have to do is instead of using your library barcode, which we used to do, we’re now-

Nora: a new change, yes a new change.

Junior: Yeah. So this is a new change that we’re using, is that you are going to be using your cunyfirst login, so you’re gonna use your cunyfirst umm username and then the password to access all these resources.

Nora: And Junior what should I do if like maybe some of our listeners like me have a big old stack of library books that are sitting right next to them at home as they’re listening to this podcast, that they took back home way back in February or March or maybe they borrowed tablet from our multimedia lab and they’re are like “I don’t know if I ever have to return this? What’s going on with returning books?”. So what should our patrons know about returning material that they had borrowed before the library closed.

Junior: So yeah. That’s a good question Nora, I’m glad you asked that. So if you have all those things, if you have some books you borrowed from last semester just hold onto them. Uh that also includes technology too. Uh so if you’re holding onto a laptop or an iPad you borrowed from the library, not from the college itself, just hold onto that and you can return that when the library reopens. Now if you’re going out of state or you know leaving New York City or you know the Metro, that you may want to reach out to us and then we can figure something out to get those resources back. Bur for the time being hold onto all those materials and there won’t be a late fee or anything like that when you return.

Nora: Yeah and I know there are some pretty good FAQs up on our website, if you have questions about kind of borrowing and returning things. So check those out if you questions and theres an email address there that you can, um, reach out to. And the cool thing about the shift to using cunyfirst for, um, authenticating um to get access to our electronic resources from off-campus, which I just learned about this week is that if you, um, have a name that you prefer to use other than the name that is assigned to you on cunyfirst or something other than your legal name or whatever name is on the documents that um that get into cunyfirst, you can actually change your name. Um and we have a cool blog post about how you can do that. So if you like to update your naming purposes for cunyfirst, those will actually migrate over to your library account. So we’ll make sure your preferred name is associated with your library record um when you login and all that stuff, you know.

Junior: So Nora if I had questions about this you know, like, how so, what’s one way I can reach a librarian if I wanted to know more about, you know, finding more things about the library, or do research or something.

Nora: Yeah so I mentioned that we have an email specifically for circulation, but the best way they get a immediate response um to your question is just to chat with us. We actually have a chat service that available 24/7. During the weekdays from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm you will be able to reach a City Tech or CUNY librarian. And it’s a real time chat service. It’s mobile friendly so you can just chat like your just texting on your phone. Um if you’re doing some heavy duty computer research you might want to try to be on a computer or laptop so we can do things like screenshare. So we can do everything from answer your question about um you know a book you checked out a few months ago to help you with search strategies for research assignment, help you understand you know an article you found that you’re having trouble accessing. You know, everything that you can think of related to kind of research, library services or library resources. So it’s pretty awesome. Um, we’re also going to be rolling out some new ways that students can work with us including doing one on one research appointments. Um so we’ll probably some of those over Zoom and uh you know we can do one on one with a librarian and get more of like the kind of experience that people used to enjoy at our Reference Desk, which I miss very much.

Junior: Yeah I miss the Reference Desk too. Um but you know if you want to set up those research appointments you can do that on our library websites, as well as chat with a librarian in real time. And it’s not just City Tech librarians, it’s also collective CUNY librarians that can help you out. And then if uh, you know, we’re not around say if you use the chat service at in the middle of the night, there’s always gonna be a librarian there, not necessarily from CUNY but a librarian to help with your research.

Nora: Yeah, that’s not robots. Some people are like “Is this a real person?” it is. It’s a real authentic librarian, yeah and if it’s the middle of the night then it might be a librarian from Hawaii. It’s definitely a librarian on there that can help you out. And uh, yeah I was, I was thinking also, um that our chat, our chat which you can access on our website, as Junior mentioned, is also um in most of the research guides so if you’re using a research guide and are looking for some stuff and how to question, you should see a chat box right there. And um those guides are accessible on Blackboard if you’re using Blackboard for you classes, you’ll see a little link that says City Tech library on the side and uh if you click in there you should find, should find some good recommended resources and you can chat with us without like typing in our URL or Googling us. You should be able to get there right from Blackboard.

Junior: Yeah. I mean now that you bring it up, I mean, would you wanna talk about what a, what a research guide is or how it can help a student.

Nora: Sure! Um so most of our research guides are like by subject. So we have a few guides for specific courses. Um


Nora: Like for uh some of the classes where we do a lot of instructions and for like English 1101 and 1121 and, most of the guides will just be like for all the Biology classes or all the Human Services classes and librarians at City Tech make these for the different areas for their kind of the different areas, for their subject expert in that area. And what they’ll do is they’ll kind of aggregate recommended sources and databases that you can use for research so most of the guides have the section where you and have some recommended eBooks. Um they’ll be opportunities for you to search just from the guides, search our collections and, yeah, um if you’re not sure where to get started, like what resources are good for doing research in psychology or research in chemistry. Those uh guides are just like intended to give you kind of some to start. Um so you should definitely check them out and as I mentioned you should be able to see them in your Blackboard courses. Um so that like a, like a handy thing to know.

Junior: Yeah. and as Nora mentioned, those guides are have been written by librarians who are experts on those subjects. So if you need more reference help or if you want to talk directly to a librarian, you can set up a research appointment and they can help you one on one in case you’re looking for something that goes beyond the guide itself.

Nora: So, Junior I’ve been getting a lot of questions on chat, ‘cause I chat with students all the time, and a lot of people want to know “What can I do, I can not afford my textbook?” and they wanna know if they’re textbook is online. Um so yeah, I was hoping to demystify some of the things about the textbooks and the online access and help our patrons out. What should I know about our reserved collections and textbooks in this new virtual reality that we live in.

Junior: Sure, So I, I can only give a broad interview, uh overview of those reserved textbooks are, I mean you know better that I, but I know that since the library, that since it’s physically closed, we can’t access what’s there. So if you’re a faculty member or a student who is looking for a particular textbook, that the library does have uh we can not scan it, we can’t scan it and send it to you, um so you’ll have to figure out another way to get that textbook to you. Um already it’s also difficult to get us, to get textbooks for students for some of the courses because um because, to be honest, they’re expensive to get them into your hands. You know the library has to pay for those electronic textbooks, but I mean I’m sure I’m missing other things [inaudible] what else should students and faculty know about electronic reserves.

Nora: Yeah, so I mean right now it’s just really hard, really hard to get access to a lot of things, um even though we’re a library and a lot of people I think, that if you see that there’s an eBook version of your textbook available on like Amazon or through the library, I mean college book , store, you’re like why can’t the library just get this eBook and share this with everyone, but sadly most of those textbook publishers, they actually just don’t let libraries buy licenses for there eBooks. So like they just don’t want the library to get one, one version of the eBook and lend it out to multiple people. Um so even if you get an eBook version of a textbook, often times we can’t. So, yeah for students who are, like “I can’t afford my textbook, What should I do?” Um there’s a couple different things you can do. So the first thing you should do is, I think, really just talk to your professor and be like “Hey this textbook is really expensive and I have a bunch of classes and I really can’t afford to buy this” because your teachers don’t really know um about maybe if that’s happening or if a lot of people are having access issues then they might be able to work around, scan some materials from their copy of their textbook, um and make limited excerpts available through Blackboard or Openlab or the platform they are using to teach. Um there’s also another thing if you’re searching for classes, in Cunyfirst, there’s a zero cost textbook cost attribute, so you can actually click on that, and that will filter and just show classes that are not requiring students to purchase material. Instead those classes are using Openlab education resources or material that is already available through our library subscription and that is something you will not have to purchase. So yeah, it’s a really hard time, like we are just used to being able to help students get access to textbooks but right now, uh, we don’t have access to our own materials and print and we’re also not able to get electronic access to a lot of these books. So, um it’s been, it’s been a real struggle so I think the best thing that we can do is, like, talk to your professor. Um *laughs* or let our professor know that the library can’t get any eBook version or all the faculty out there listening, it’s really hard for us to get eBook versions of textbooks, um and often times not possible for us to do. Um so yeah, I would, I would just say it’s a new landscape, but we do have a research guide that I know you worked on Junior with some alternatives to some textbooks so it might be, yeah, so for some people it’s like time to rethink, I think. *laughs*

Junior: Yes!

Nora: [inaudible] whatever they are using in their classes for sure.

Junior: Yeah, I totally agree. I mean if you are a faculty member and you’re looking for, you know, some of those resources that Nora has talked about, the open educational resources, the OERs, um there’s a link on the library home page that you can click on and it’ll bring you, you know, to some of the resources there that’ll help you get those materials to your students. So that’s also something to kind of think about as well. Umm, the other thing about reserved collections is, as well since I’m the multimedial librarian, we also have access to Canopy. Uh Canopy, if you don’t know, it’s a streaming media surface that the library subscribes to, and we provide a lot of films to our students and faculty to use in class. However we’ve changed, kind of, um picked up those new videos and add those to the streaming collection. Now if you want a film, it used to be you can just log onto Canopy, you could just watch a film until we have ran out of funding for next semester, but now we’ve changed some things, if you want to view a specific film, you have to get into contact with me, or you can request it online by emailing me or visiting the Canopy website and sending me an email and then what we will do is release the film for your class. So that’s another kind of thing to think about. If you use a lot of films, a lot of streaming media, uh you can use Canopy but the way you access those films has just changed a little bit.

Nora: Yeah. Good to know. And we do have some good pointers if you’re using a film or you want to use a piece of a film in your class that is not available on Canopy right now, that’s the only streaming platform that we have. Umm but we do have Fair Use in Copyright guide, that just has some pointers for like, you know, what to do if you need a film and you have access to the film, um through, you know, subscription service or maybe you have a DVD, I don’t know, a VHS at home, who knows what people are, you know some legacy media, uhh yeah. So there’s some, there are some other options aside from Canopy, but yeah, like I think just like the eBook situation, a lot of people just don’t know. It’s real expensive for us to get films. Really expensive, yeah.

Junior: That’s true.

Nora: Yeah, so laying down some library truths. I think maybe we should take a commercial break.

Junior: Yeah, sure. So uh let’s take this quick break and we’ll ger back to you.

Comercial Break: Today’s podcast is brought to you by “Basketball: Science on the Court” By Emily Mahony. Available now as an eBook at the City Tech library. Slam dunks, quick passes and jump shots are only possible because of science and readers of this book will discover why as they explore the ways of physics, biology and other areas of science are applied in the game of basketball.

Junior: Okay, so Welcome Back! We hope that you had a good recommendation there from that last commercial break. Um so besides services that we have here in the library, in this new kind of world with a pandemic going on. One important thing I will like to mention is that everyone should fill out the Census, the 2020 Census. Um, if you don’t know what that is, uh it’s basically a count of, you know, the number of people in the U.S. It’s a constitutionally mandated count, uh where everyone say that “we live here”. Um what you can do to, to take the Census is to go to the official Census website. And that’s That’s 2-0-2-0-C-e-n-s-u-s-.-g-o-v. And that is the Census website. And from there you can take the Census, you can also take it by calling a 1-800 number, or not a 1-800 number, but a 1-844 number and that number is 1-844-330-2020. And one of the reasons that it’s important to take the Census is because uh, you know, that count helps us, helps libraries especially and educational institutions with funding. So once we know how many people are, you know, here and where they live and things like that, we can use that count and it helps us justify getting funds for technology for books, um all kinds of other things that support you. And it goes beyond the library as well. It’s also infrastructure, so like all the roads, um electricity, things like that. So it’s very important that you take the Census. Due to the pandemic, they have changed the deadline for the Census. It was available until the end of October, but now it’s pushed ‘till the end of September. So if you’re going to take the Census, be sure to do that before September 30th. Um as I mentioned, you can go to the website, um or call the number. There’s also some resources on the library blog as well that you can click through. It gives a better explanation as, you know, why, why you should take the Census. Um but Nora, did you want to talk about the upcoming raffle that we have.

Nora; Yeah. So we’re doing a initiative for students um where we’re gonna have um some info coming out soon on our social media platforms. And it’s kind of a social media Census campaign to raise awareness of being counted because you count.

Junior: Yes.

Nora:  Yeah. and it’s, it’s and it’s gonna be under the #CityTechCounts, hashtag CityTechCounts. Um yeah we’re working on this initiative with the office of Student Life & Development and with NYPIRG, who do a lot of political advocacy for students in New York State. Um and you can just talk about why you took the Census in that short video and tag us and you can be entered into a raffle to win some cool prizes. So stay tuned for that. And yeah, I think Junior made a good case for the Census. It’s really, if we’re undercounted here in New York we’re just get less federal funding for, for everything from schools to infrastructures to libraries. So people are like “why do I care about this?” but it can actually affect how many political representatives we get to advocate for us in Washington. So. it’s super important and you only need to do one per household and it really takes like 5 minutes. I did the Census right away. It’s not like voting, you don’t get a cool sticker at the end but it does matter a lot so yeah. So check out our blog post if you want to find out more reasons you should take the Census and there’s links and stuff up there. But umm if you follow us on social media, you will definitely find out more about the Census initiative because we’re going to be posting about it starting next weekend. Umm hope some of you guys can participate in our raffle. Umm yeah. Speaking of our social media channels, uh you know, we’re trying to reach students and faculty that way while we’re remote so we’re going to be posting a bit more regularly on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. So whichever of those platforms you’re on, um check us out there. Uh we also have a Youtube channel where we’re putting lots of cool new videos and research kind of tutorials.Uh yeah we have a couple old, uh old episodes of our podcasts up on our blog which we mentioned before. And you can also listen to our podcast on iTunes, uh Spotify or Soundcloud, too.

Junior: Yeah. Yeah. So uh in case you need to know our social media handle, you can always Google us. But our handle is CityTechLibrary and it’s all one word. And as Nora mentioned we are on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. I think we’re still on Pinterest too, but it hasn’t been updated in a very long time. *laughs*.

Nora: Actually I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t navigate for our Pinterest channel. The Twitter and Instagram for sure, we’re updating those regularly. You can DM us, we will respond, you know. That kinda thing. But yeah our Youtube channel is, we’re tryna build it up, so if you’re a Youtuber, you know, check us out.

Junior: Yeah. We’re not on TikTok yet. I know CUNY’s on TikTok *laughs* But

Nora: Yeah, there’s some CUNY TikTok. Did you see that CUNY TikTok controversy yesterday? *laughs*

Junior: Yes. *laughs*

Nora: Yeah, well hopefully we’ve dispelled some of the myths that that TikTok put out to the world so…

Junior: Yeah, I hope so.

Nora: ..with this podcast so

Both: *laugh*

Junior: If you want to know more, you can always reach out to me and Nora about the TikTok controversy. *laughs*

Nora: Yeah. So, you know, it’s all over the internet. It’s an important development, in the world of CUNY.

Both: *laugh*

Nora: Well thank you guys for listening and stay tuned…

Junior: Yes! Stay Tuned!

Nora:..for more podcasts episodes. Yeah stay tuned!

Junior: Yeah. I mean our podcast is regularly, sporadically, is sporadically updated but as Nora mentioned you can listen to us on Soundcloud, Spotify, uh subscribe to um to iTunes, um and yes since this pandemic is going on, we’re just going to be doing remote recordings of the podcast. But yeah if you want to get in touch, just visit the library website and give us a [unaudible]

Nora: Yeah if you have an idea for a podcast, you know add us..

Junior: Yeah.

Nora:..we’re open. Yeah. No, we’re closed, we’re also closed.

Both: *laugh*

Junior: Uh so thanks for listening.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *