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.

Spotlight on library resource: Transgender Studies Quarterly (TSQ)

image of cover of Transgender Studies Quarterly journal with an empty room and broken stairwell in the background

The library has newly subscribed to Transgender studies quarterly (TSQ) from Duke University Press as of last year. We now have access to the complete journal online. In their own words, TSQ “publishes interdisciplinary work that explores the diversity of gender, sex, sexuality, embodiment, and identity in ways that have not been adequately addressed by feminist and queer scholarship.”

To highlight some of the great work in TSQ, here is a list of their most-read articles from 2020:

Transgender as a Humanitarian Category: The Case of Syrian Queer and Gender-Variant Refugees in Turkey
by Fadi Saleh

Trans Pornography: Mapping an Emerging Field
by Sophie Pezzutto and Lynn Comella

Before Trans Studies
by Cassius Adair, Cameron Awkward-Rich, and Amy Marvin

The Failures of SESTA/FOSTA: A Sex Worker Manifesto
by Valentina Mia

And if you’re new to field and looking for an introduction to the journal, these two articles are a great place to start:

Introduction: Trans* Studies Now
by Susan Stryker

We Got Issues: Toward a Black Trans*/Studies
by Treva Ellison; Kai M. Green; Matt Richardson; C. Riley Snorton

For all these and more, visit Transgender studies quarterly journal online here.

Kel R. Karpinski is the Gender & Sexuality Studies librarian.
If you have research questions, you can email them at kkarpinski@citytech.cuny.edu.

Library Faculty Research at City Tech’s 18th Annual Poster Session

City Tech held its 18th Annual Poster Session November 19, 2020 as an online event. Two City Tech librarians shared their research. Kel Karpinski’s poster discussed was entitled “Sailors: The iconography of an all-American homoerotic symbol.” Prof. Karpinski uses images from mid-century physique magazines to explore the tension of sailors being both an object of queer desire as well as part of the U.S. Imperial Project.

Monica Berger’s poster and one-minute lightening talk was based on a forthcoming article in Development and Change, on how open access evolved to disadvantage scholars from the Global South (less developed countries). Specifically, open access based on the author-pays or article processing charge (APC) model results in the exclusion of many researchers. The Latin American principle of bibliodiversity provides a vision for sustainable and self-determined scholarly communication.

Here are this year’s posters from library faculty:

Sailors: The iconography of an all-American homoerotic symbol, Kel R. Karpinski
Sailors: The iconography of an all-American homoerotic symbol, Kel R. Karpinski

Bibliodiversity at the Center: Decolonizing Open Access, Monica Berger
Bibliodiversity at the Center: Decolonizing Open Access, Monica Berger

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

The Fifth Annual City Tech Symposium on Race and Science Fiction

The Fifth Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium on Race and Science Fiction will be held on Thursday, Nov. 19 from 9:00am-5:00pm online via Zoom Webinar.

To participate in this free event, attendees will need to (1) Signup for a free Zoom account here (if you don’t already have one), and (2) Register here to receive access instructions to the Zoom Webinar. Participants may register any time before or during the event!

For those who would like to watch the event without registering, you can join the YouTube Livestream here.

In addition to the Zoom Webinar Chat and YouTube Live Chat, join the event conversation with the event hashtag #CityTechSF and follow on Twitter @CityTechSF.

As indicated on the program, some symposium content is pre-recorded to offer more time for discussion on the day of the event. Pre-recorded content includes author readings and full paper presentations. Some of this content is in production and will be posted soon.

Visit the collection’s OpenLab page for participant bios, the full program and additional information.

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.

Continue reading “City Tech Stories Podcast Episode 5 – The Library in the Pandemic”

Pride: The Legacy of Audre Lorde at CUNY

Audre Lorde with text "Women are Powerful and Dangerous"

When I started my internship at the library, one of my first assignments was to help develop resources for City Tech’s English classes. I like to do background research when I start projects, so I read up on the history of CUNY’s English departments. I was thrilled to discover that world-famous poet Audre Lorde had deep connections to English at CUNY: she went to Hunter for her BA, and then became a highly active and influential professor at several CUNY campuses.

Audre Lorde was a powerful and radical thinker. She was a Caribbean-American, lesbian, activist, writer, poet, teacher, and visionary. She dedicated her life to confronting racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia, and she was deeply involved with several social justice movements in the United States. 

Continue reading “Pride: The Legacy of Audre Lorde at CUNY”

City Tech Library Statement of Support and Commitment to Action

Black Lives Matter. We in the City Tech Library stand with our Black students and faculty and staff colleagues against the racist violence and police brutality in our country. We stand with you in mourning the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Black communities and other people of color at City Tech and in our city. We stand with and support the brave acts of protest and calls for action in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, and many others at the hands of law enforcement.

We demand accountability for the lives who have been effectively dismantled due to a dual-natured justice system that has unfairly penalized members of the Black community who were full of promise, especially our students here at City Tech.

We will not be silent, and will work mindfully and intentionally to dismantle systemic racism and inequality through the use of our physical and virtual spaces, and our library resources. We will actively do this work in collaboration with faculty, staff, and students across the campus community.

We commit to the following actions in our library work. Our antiracist and antioppression work in the library is and must be ongoing, thus this list is necessarily incomplete, and serves as a starting point.

  1. We commit to antiracism in our work together as library faculty and staff, including creating community agreements and practicing calling each other in.
  2. We commit to ensuring that you will never be forced into the position of having to defend your humanity and your dignity as Black students, faculty, and staff.
  3. We recognize that everyone in the City Tech community has a right to privacy, and we will act to minimize surveillance to mitigate oppression.
  4. We will work to build print and digital collections in our library and archives that are antiracist and antioppressive, and we will acknowledge and reevaluate the nuance involved in maintaining our collections.
  5. We will work to counter white supremacy and hegemony in the library by creating space for alternative forms of expression and ways of knowing.
  6. We will actively work to create forums for our students to share their experiences when they interact with someone who falls short of these declarations.

Inspiration and Resources:

Pandemics in History: A Dispatch from A Librarian at Home

In an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that hospitals are not overwhelmed, New York City and State officials have closed NYC Public Schools and Libraries (including CUNY Libraries, as of today). Non-essential businesses around the city (including your favorite restaurant) are set to close this evening and theaters and large venues with more than 500 seats closed earlier this week.

I spent much of the weekend, as many of you likely did, preoccupied with pandemic panic. Librarians and educators across the country have been sharing information about school and library closures (or decisions to keep these spaces open) and the need to balance serving the needs of our patrons and students with the recommended practices for mitigating the spread of COVID-19. I wondered if any previous pandemics in history had resulted in the kind of extreme public health measures that NYC officials put in place this week and whether or not they had worked. And I figured the best way to find out was to consult the New York Times historical database, which we have digital access to through the City Tech Library and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, which is accessible online through the Brooklyn Public Library system.

One of the most deadly pandemics to hit New York City was in 1918 when an influenza outbreak killed about 30,000 New Yorkers (and millions of people worldwide). There are important differences between the influenza pandemic and COVID virus in terms of pathology and there have also been great advances in medicine and public health infrastructure since 1918. However, more than 100 years after the 1918 influenza pandemic, there are some interesting parallels in terms of the social and political responses that we can learn from.

On October 5th, 1918, more than 150 people died and almost 1700 new cases of influenza were reported in NYC alone. In response, New York City Officials decided to limit the hours for non-essential businesses city-wide, and staggered business hours to reduce crowding in public spaces. City officials also “prescribed a schedule” for theaters and places of amusement (like movie theaters), which changed their programming to include public health announcements (remember, the internet didn’t exist). Some public spaces (including libraries) were closed entirely. Mass transit was not shut down, but public health officials cautioned that, “the greatest source of spread of the disease are crowded subway and elevated trains.” They also knew that while New Yorkers probably weren’t headed to the movies if they were sick with the flu, “sick people do go to work.” And this observation, which still rings true today, raises a lot of questions about how we contain the COVID19 virus by providing economic support to sick workers (and hourly wage workers who can’t work while businesses are closed).

Headline Brooklyn Daily Eagle Oct 5
Headline New York Times Oct 5

Meanwhile back in September 1918, Dr. Blue, the Surgeon General and the top health official in the United States, issued a public statement recommending that municipal authorities in places “threatened by the epidemic” close “churches, schools, theaters, and public institutions,” although he did not have the authority to demand municipal closures.

On October 3rd, following Dr. Blue’s recommendation, the state commissioner of health in Pennsylvania ordered “schools, churches, theatres, and all places of public assemblage” in Philadelphia to close indefinitely. Other major cities including Trenton and Cincinnati similarly closed everything (#canceleverything) including churches and schools. But here in New York, the health commissioner, Dr. Copeland, resisted Dr. Blue’s recommendation and ignored public outcry; he refused to close schools, theaters, and public meeting spaces. Many NYC residents and businesses pleaded with the Mayor to take action, just as many residents took to Twitter urging our current Mayor, Bill De Blasio, to close schools and public libraries this past weekend.

On Oct 19th, almost 5000 new Influenza cases were reported, and Dr. Copeland told reporters that city authorities agreed with his decision to keep schools open and that the “chief difficulty” in keeping them running was, “an unusual amount of illness among teachers.”

Almost a month later, on November 17th, when the immediate public health threats of the pandemic began to wane, Copeland defended his decisions saying they kept “down the danger of panic” and “helped maintain the morale of New York City.” Copeland cited the crowded conditions in which many NYC residents lived and described how the public school system itself was “an important method of disease control” since teachers were given the responsibility of diagnosing children who appeared sick when arriving at school. Copeland also recounted the city’s successful “health control” measures including “keeping windows open” in schools which resulted in what he described as a “fine record” in terms of the mortality rate in NYC as compared to other cities.

By the statistics, NYC did fare a little better than some other major U.S. cities in terms of the percentage of deaths from influenza overall. So maybe Copeland was right about a few things including the importance of enforcing housing laws and scaling up public health services (although we now know that opening a few windows wont stop us from catching the flu). These statistics weren’t collected, but I wonder what percentage of NYC teachers died in 1918 given the (unofficial) public health role that Copeland thrust upon them. And I wonder if a public panic would have contributed to the death rate at all.

The “epidemic lessons” I take away from my deep dive into the 1918 influenza outbreak are: we need good public health infrastructure, labor laws, and safe housing to deal with a pandemic and its social and economic consequences. We also need to recognize the value of social services all the time, not just during a crisis. Lastly, we need quality information about how to protect ourselves and each other during this crisis. Thankfully, even though the City Tech Library is current closed, a lot of the resources we need are online. In 1918, they had to wait 6 weeks to get access to library resources!

Earlier this week, on the whiteboard near the entrance of the City Tech Library, I wrote: The Best Cure for Panic is Information. But information, especially mis-information can also drive panic. So don’t believe everything you read and if you need help figuring that out…Ask a Librarian.

All of the information cited and quoted here comes from articles published in the New York Times and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle between September 1918 and December 1918.