Looking Back & Looking Forward

As many will know, in September the Burke Library reopened its physical spaces and in-person services for affiliate students, faculty, and staff. It has been wonderful to welcome everyone back into the reading room, study spaces, and stacks. For the previous 17 months, though our physical facilities remained closed to patrons, the Burke staff continued to provide a wide array of services and support during our collective sojourn through the “Zoomiverse.” These have included:

  • A significant increase in the amount of materials – ebooks, journals, databases, primary source collections – available in electronic format
  • A tremendous boost in the amount of scanning by the Burke, and Columbia Libraries, staff. This includes book chapters and journal articles as well as rare books and archives
  • A robust “virtual reference” service with extended hours
  • Remote research consultations and course sessions
  • A book pick-up service

The Burke team – Caro Bratnober, Leah Edelman, Myong Jin, Deanna Roberts, and Jeffrey Wayno – also continued to work on many projects that, though less visible in a remote context, have made a great many archives, books, journals, periodicals, and other items from the Burke’s collections more discoverable and accessible. 

Now that many of us are back in person most of the time, it has been a delight and an inspiration to see old and new friends in the library. It has been an eventful fall semester. We are thrilled to have a full staff of Union and Columbia students at our circulation desk again! Special collections appointments for archives and rare books are available for current affiliates, using the newly implemented Aeon system. There is a new exhibit of recent additions to the special collections, including some of the research notebooks of the late Rev. Dr. James Cone, on display across from the first floor circulation desk. 

Finally, this past October we had the bittersweet experience of bidding farewell to our colleague Deanna Roberts. Many will have met and spoken with Deanna over her four years at the helm of the Burke’s circulation desk. We are deeply grateful for all Deanna brought to our work at the Burke, and the many ways she helped our communities access materials and conduct their courses and research. Happily, Deanna has taken on an exciting new position as Access Services and Reference Librarian at the nearby New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and we look forward to hearing about Deanna’s many successes at NBTS’s Sage Library.


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