Embracing Autumn

Embracing Autumn

Reference and Reader Services Report: Fall 2022

Painting of Frederic Bazille by Paul Verlaine

Portrait of Paul Verlaine by Frédéric Bazille, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

I associate autumn with a slowing down of time, tinted with melancholia. This is best captured in the poem, Chanson d’Automne by the French poet Paul Verlaine (1844-1896), where he likens the season to the long, monotone sobs of violins.  This autumn, however, was the opposite of long and monotonous. The season’s tempo was set to an allegro, less Clair de Lune (inspired by Verlaine’s poem of the same name) and more Waltz in D-flat major, Op. 64, No. 1 (i.e. the Minute Waltz). 

 One reason for this is that joined the Gottesman Libraries in the middle of October as the Head of Reference and Reader Services. Coming in mid-semester I was buzzing with excitement of starting something new. And though being the new person is always intimidating, it also allowed me to see our services with a fresh perspective. I can attest to, and believe this report will show, that the services we offer to students, alumni, faculty, and staff are engaging, varied, and very much in demand. It is with great pleasure that I submit this report, my first, of the reader services activities at the Gottesman Libraries.


Reference and Instruction Services

 Our reference and instruction services include workshops, classroom instruction, one-on-one consultations, and reference requests that come through our Ask a Librarian service.



 Our workshops are open to all members of the Teachers College community and our affiliate communities. They offer attendees opportunities to develop library research skills through a variety of specialized topics. In Fall 2022 we hosted 17 such workshops that covered topics such as “Managing Your References,” “Systematic and Scoping Reviews,” “Cited Reference Searching,” and more. We had 134 attendees, primarily students but also faculty, across all workshops. 


Information Sessions

 Through our information sessions we offer onsite, virtual, or hybrid instruction to classes on a full range of tools available to them as students at Teachers College. These sessions can be customized based upon the instructor's need to focus on specific topics, issues, or resources. During the Fall 2022 semester we conducted 16 information sessions in classrooms across 11 different academic programs. We reached 226 students with these sessions. 

 Special thanks to Becca Gates, Research and Instruction Librarian, who deftly managed the majority of workshops and information sessions this semester. The opportunity to shadow her on many of her sessions was invaluable to acclimate myself to the resources offered by the Gottesman Libraries and also to envision, with her, the further development of our instructional offerings. 



 We saw a large uptick in the number of consultations booked by the Teachers College community. This service offers students and faculty the opportunity to talk one-on-one for up to an hour at a time with our reference and instruction librarians for in-depth research assistance. In Fall 2022 we offered 77 consultations to students and faculty representing over 40 programs of study. Topics included climate change and its impact on high school students; the works of Rumi in the context of therapy; the inner-lives of senior managers; and the use of modal verbs to enhance coaching, among others. Virtual consultations remained popular and necessary, as several students who engage with the service do not live in New York. This offers them a direct line to the Library, an aspect of their student experience that they would have otherwise had to do without. 


Service Tickets

 Library users can use the “Ask a Librarian” button on our website to submit questions for response. We answered 291 questions related to reference, instruction, and our workshops. 


Research Guides

 Our Research Guides Collection is a central repository of key library resources for each major program at Teachers College, along with several general use guides covering library research skills. Two of the most popular guides - An Introduction to Library Research and The Literature Review - received major revisions.


Social Media

 The Libraries are building out a more robust social media presence through Instagram and Twitter. These spaces offer our followers another way to see information, events, and interesting stories about the Libraries and our collections.


Access Services

 At the Gottesman Libraries the purview of Access services includes circulation of physical resources; maintenance of the open bookstacks in the Russell Hall Tower; and the delivery of the highest level of customer service for the Libraries’ users at all our service points.


Open Collections

 The Gottesman Libraries contains four floors of open stacks, each with its own mezzanine or loft level, where the Teachers College community can browse for books for reading onsite or to check out of the Library. In addition to the stacks, Library users can also browse for books on our second floor (children’s fiction, non-fiction, and teaching materials) and third floor (Teachers College Press, new faculty publications, and new research) reading rooms. Though the Gottesman Libraries prioritizes the collection of digital versions of publications, our physical collections from the open stacks receive a lot of use. 

 In Fall 2022, the Gottesman Libraries recorded 3,057 physical items that circulated. That number comprises 1,578 check outs (not-in-house loans) and 1,479 items that circulated within the Library (in-house loans) but never left the building. During this time we also checked-in 2,739 returns.    


User Experience

 The Gottesman Libraries is open 89 hours during a typical week, extended hours of operation during finals sees the Libraries open over 100 hours. This would not be possible without our Library Associates who act as the first point of contact with our users, answering questions at the Service Desk, through our chat service, and by telephone. They bring a range of experience and backgrounds but all have a strong commitment to serving the Teachers College community. It has been a joy to be their supervisor this past semester. Together we have worked to streamline their training and develop a knowledge base so they can better serve our constituents. During the Fall 2022 semester they responded to 1,224 questions at the service desk, conducted 136 chat interactions, and answered 120 phone calls.

 We also offered expanded paging services from the open collections this semester. This allows Library users to request an item be pulled from the stacks in advance of their arrival. Users are informed via email when their item is ready to be picked up and have 7 days to do so. Our Library Associates paged 179 items for the Teachers College community this past semester.


Service Tickets

 Finally, we responded to 147 questions related to circulation and access this past semester.


Looking Ahead

 I am very excited for the upcoming offerings for Spring 2023. A few of which I want to highlight as a preview of what's to come. 

 This semester we look forward to offering a two revamped workshops series, the first titled “Your Research Journey,” incorporates information literacy at the graduate-level through several independent yet related topics. Our second series “Elevate Your Research,” will offer the Teachers College community specialized topics to advance one’s research skills. We anticipate continued use of our consultation services and information sessions as well. 

 I look forward to welcoming a new Circulation and User Experience Librarian, who will work alongside me to further develop our access services. I anticipate these activities will revolve around refining our training at the Service Desk to serve our constituents better and deeper analysis of our circulating items.


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