2013 Mina Rees Library Year in Review

After another year of exciting happenings in and around the library, we’ve compiled these highlights from the Graduate Center Library blog, so we don’t forget 2013’s developments while we blog about 2014.  Below is a month-by-month overview — click on the month to get the full impact of the year. And if you want to stay abreast of future library news, subscribe to the blog and get it delivered directly to your inbox or RSS reader!



The beginning of the semester is a time for migrations, unpacking, reserves, cataloging, and reception of theses and dissertations. And speaking of deposits, note the following fun facts: a dissertation, thesis, or capstone project may be deposited at any time, but the deadline for the February 1st degree is the last day of January. Judy Waldman is the Dissertation Assistant at the Graduate Center library. Hi Judy!

February Activist Women's Voices lobby display


The Activist Women’s Voices exhibition on the first floor of the library introduced the digitization project of a special collection held here at the Graduate Center Library.  Interns Erika Herzog and Yasreen Ijaz worked with a volunteer under the direction of reference librarian Shawn(ta) Smith to highlight the oral history collection and the digitization efforts.

Theatre students Emily Clark (left) and Dan Venning (right) offer the Kirle Gift to Chief Librarian Polly Thistlethwaite (middle).



Family and friends of Bruce Kirle ’02 offered a gift to the Graduate Center’s Ph.D. Program in Theatre in his honor. Dr. Kirle was a lifelong lover of musical theatre. The donation was for a significant number of scholarly books about musicals as well as a collection of recordings. The CD collection is housed in the Theatre Program offices, and it is available to students who are studying or teaching musicals and need ready access to the music. The rest of the gift purchased approximately 75 scholarly studies of musical theatre for the Graduate Center Library.



Days after the Boston Marathon bombing where multiple people were injured and two died, the Digital Public Library  of America was launched. The reception had been originally planned for April 18, 2013, but was postponed in light of the tragic events. Nevertheless, Robert Darnton, founder of the Digital Public Library of America and Harvard’s Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and University Librarian, came to the Graduate Center by invitation of the Friends of the Mina Rees Library. Darnton was in conversation Monday afternoon April 29 with GC President William P. Kelly and Professor William Kornblum of Sociology and Chair of Friends of the Mina Rees Library.



Students gearing up for their final exams welcomed comfort stations, but waited for their books to arrive. Chief librarian, Polly Thistlethwaite made the case for longer loan periods, first by outlining how the Graduate Center is the hub of CUNY. Students relied on resource sharing when book supplies are low. Beth Posner, Head of Library Resource Sharing described how Graduate Center Library users require “radical” interlibrary loan, and Jill Cirasella, Head of Public Services and Scholarly Communication, instructed fans of Google Scholar, “currently the single best tool for finding open access versions of journal articles,” how to use it better.



A timeline for The Graduate Center Library’s collaborative relationship with NYPL was outlined, from its intention set by Mina Rees, the first president of the Graduate Center, to the recently established MaRLI program, which allows vetted CUNY faculty and grads to borrow from the NYPL, NYU, and Columbia research libraries.

NYPL + CUNY library registration at One Stop



NYPL staff joined Graduate Center Library staff at the GC’s new student registration, signing students up for NYPL cards, approving them for special borrowing privileges at the NYPL research libraries, and helping them understand the MaRLI program, which allows many GC faculty and students access to the collections at NYU and Columbia.

Graduate Center Chief Librarian Polly Thistlethwaite introduces the panel of librarians and curators from the NYPL Schwarzman Building. From left; Rebecca Federman, Electronic Resources Coordinator, Thomas Lannon, Assistant Curator, Manuscripts and Archives, Denise Hibay, Head of Collection Development, Mary Jones, Librarian, General Research Division, Jason Baumann, Coordinator Collection Assessment and LGBT Collections, and Victoria Steele, Director of Collections Strategy.



The beginning of the semester meant collaboration and training. The library spearheaded its workshop series in collaboration with NYPL’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building Humanities and Social Sciences Library, and Library for the Performing Arts. At this panel discussion, students were able to meet the curators of the research divisions and learn about the primary source materials available for research. Speaking of Archives, John Rothman, our volunteer archivist was highlighted. See Rothman’s story here.



In October, the government shut down. Do you remember this? This shut-down had a direct effect on every industry, including libraries. The Library of Congress was out of commission, and several government-support databases, including the Education Resource Information Center (ERIC) and PubMed, languished. Speaking of government and scholarly communication, Jill Cirasella asked the question, “Are there any reasons why the public should not have access to the results of taxpayer-funded research?” in her presentation on Open Access and Scholarly Communications at an October event: Open Access to Scholarly Literature: Which Side Are You On?.

Polly's PreziNovember


On November 13, circulation heads of the CUNY libraries endorsed the Graduate Center’s proposal to extend graduate student and faculty loan periods to 120 days. This is a process that took years to unfold, and is in line with the increase in faculty fines that went into effect at the beginning of 2014. Library patrons were pleased by the endorsement, and also contented to see attention paid not only to circulation, but also to the walls of the library, where the Gittell Archive and Project held its exhibition, which was unveiled with an address by Michelle Fine and a welcome by president Chase Robinson.



By the end of the year, students were scrambling to collect what was left of their work, and returning books so they could register for the next semester. During this period, resource sharing was pivotal for securing necessary articles. Similarly, ensuring that students and faculty were aware of their need to keep library records clear in order to take advantage of library services was a priority.


About the Author

Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz is an Assistant Professor and Head of Reference at the Graduate Center Library.