Cuneiform Tablet from RBML in Exhibition

Columbia University Plimpton 322

An illuminating exhibition of thirteen ancient babylonian tablets, along with supplemental documentary material, opens at New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW) on November 12, 2010. Before Pythagoras: The Culture of Old Babylonian  Mathematics reveals the highly sophisticated mathematical practice and education that flourished in Babylonia—present-day Iraq—more than 1,000 years before the time of the Greek sages Thales and Pythagoras, with whom mathematics is traditionally said to have begun.

The tablets in the exhibition, at once beautiful and enlightening, date from the Old Babylonian Period (ca. 1900–1700 BCE). They have been assembled from three important collections: the Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University; the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology; and the Yale babylonian Collection, Yale University.

More information about the exhibition can be found at

Retiring from the libraries

Name of Employee:  Bindu Bhatt
Title:  South Asian Studies Librarian
Department:  Area Studies
Officer of the Libraries
Retiring effective date:  December 24, 2010

Name of Employee:  Seth Kasten
Title:  Head of Reference and Research and Collection Development
Department:  Burke Library
Officer of the Libraries
Retiring effective date:  December 31, 2010

Name of Employee:  Sarah Elliston Weiner
Title:  Director, Wallach Gallery and Curator of Art Properties
Department:  Art Properties
Officer of Administration
Retiring effective date: January 7, 2011

Libraries New Hires 7-1-2010 through 11-5-2010

Jim Cheng was hired on 07/06/2010 as the Director, C.V. Starr East Asian Librarian;
Elizabeth Grefrath was hired on 07/06/2010 as the Project Coordinatorin the Rare Book & Manuscript Library;
Debroah Wilson was hired on 07/19/2010 as the Information Office Asst. 7 in the Access Services Library;
Ian Douglas was hired on 08/16/2010 as the Systems Engineer B in the Information Technology Department;
Adrian Thomas was hired on 08/16/2010 as the Library Specialist I in the Access Services Library;
Anthony Elia was hired on 09/07/2010 as the Public Services Librarian in the Burke Library Library;
Lisa Reist was hired on 09/28/2010 as the Journalism and Lehman Evening Supervisor in the Social Sciences Library;
Sheiley Hayreh was hired on 10/04/2010 as the Archivist, Drawings & Archives in the Avery Library;
Mary Gallagher was hired on 10/05/2010 as the Associate Editor in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library;
David Arjanik was hired on 10/11/2010 as the Systems Analyst/Programmer A in the Digital Program Department;
Seangill Bae was hired on 10/11/2010 as the Head, Delivery Services in the Access Services Library;
Christina Harlow was hired on 10/25/2010 as the Clerical Assistant 3 – Night Desk Attendant in the Avery Library;
Paul Van DeCarr was hired on 10/25/2010 as the Education and Outreach Officer in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Circulation Data Spectacular!

In Summer 2010, CUL’s ReCAP Coordinator led an internship project to analyze circulation data.  Intern Steve Zweibel organized, summarized and visualized system-wide circulation data provided by LITO staff.  Data represents circulation activity for both on-site and off-site collections; it is not ReCAP-specific. 

The goal of the project was to present his findings to professional staff to aid data-driven decisions.  The products were a tightly composed PowerPoint presentation that includes observations and some analysis and an invitation from OCLC to co-present a webinar Managing Collections in the Networked Environment: New Analytical Approaches.

Included here are three example charts of data.  The first represents the total volume of charges to CUL’s primary patron groups (Undergraduate, Graduates, Faculty and Visitors) organized by fiscal year.  The second represents the monthly patterns of the same data.  The third is the percentage circulation of Offsite collections, which has grown from 2.3% to 6.1% over the lifespan of ReCAP.

Congratulations Steve Zweibel on graduation and finding professional employment at NYU and Hunter College!

Observations from data:

  • Overall circulation volume has decline 18.6% since 2003, but has held steady for the past three years
  • Circulation activity is in phase with the academic calendar
  • Graduate student usage peaks a month before Undergraduate
  • Renewals are in phase with loan period due dates
  • Policy changes are reflected in data: 4-week to 1-term loan period for Undergraduates, assignation of Faculty (OFF) privileges to Graduates serving as Adjunct Faculty, and ability to renew/recall/hold via CLIO
  • Renewal to Charge ratio *much* higher for Faculty than other patron groups
  • Shift towards online (OPAC) renewal and recall represent learning curve as users adapt to new technology
  • Undergraduates charge and renew fewer books due to extended loan periods
  • An increasing percentage of circulation activity involves Offsite collections, but has held steady for the past three years


Almost an event: computer overheat incident

From the Columbia University E&HS newsletter, Safety Matters:

"A computer fire was recently avoided by a quick thinking employee and thorough investigation by staff. Upon entering the work area, the employee detected an unknown burning odor and immediately called Public Safety, who in turned called EH&S Fire Safety and Facilities to investigate the odor.  The investigation traced the odor back to a desktop computer tower that was emitting excessive heat."  Read the full article here:


Join METRO on Monday, November 8th from 10:00 am – 11:00 am for their next fall webinar, “Practical Open Source Software for Libraries: Part 1.” Follow-up and take a closer look the next day, November 9th , with “Practical Open Source Software for Libraries, Part 2.”

Open source has become a valuable way for libraries to increase their flexibility and freedom with software. During the first session of this two-part webinar series, instructor Nicole Engard will introduce students to open source software and how it is being used to improve library services.

Students who register for the second session will take a more in-depth look at specific applications that libraries worldwide are using now to improve services for patrons and staff alike.

*Please note that attendance at Part 1 is not required but is recommended as a pre-requisite for those who need more background on open source software and its application in libraries.

Part 1 registration fees: $20 members; $20 myMETRO; $40 non-members

To register or to learn more, visit

Part 2 registration fees: $20 members; $20 myMETRO; $40 non-members

To learn more, visit _

Please contact Laura Forshay at _lforshay@metro.org_ <>, 212.228.2320 x10 with any questions.

Please follow the Libraries guidelines for approval of this training:

Staff Transitions

Francie Mrkich was promoted from Associate Director to Director of Access Services, effective January 1, 2010.

Vivian Sukenik retired from the Science and Engineering Libraries, effective January 1, 2010.

Staff Activities

Damon Jaggars,  Associate University Librarian for Collections and Services, spoke at the ACRL/NY Annual Symposium 2009 in December: . He also recently published “Comparing Service Priorities Between Staff and Users in Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Member Libraries,” /portal: Libraries and the Academy/, Vol. 9, No. 3, 2009, pp. 441-452 (with Shanna Smith Jaggars and Jocelyn Duffy).

Neil Romanosky, Delivery Services Librarian, is Chair of the ALA Reference and User Services (RUSA) Sharing and Transforming Access to Resources (STARS) ILL Discussion Group. Neil moderated the group’s ALA Midwinter session on January 16, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts. Cyril Oberlander, Associate Director, Milne Library, SUNY Geneseo, presented “GIST: A Customizable Future for ILL and Acquisitions,” a toolkit that merges acquisitions and ILL functionality by utilizing a library’s ILL software to enable user-initiated purchase requests via a traditional ILL request form. Michael Ireland, Director, CISTI Information Access and Delivery, and Jason Charron, Director, CISTI Corporate Services and Strategic Initiatives, discussed major funding reductions at CISTI and delivered a “CISTI Transformation Update,” describing the resulting new outsourced document delivery service for materials from the collection of the /Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (/CISTI).

Jen Rutner, Assessment and Marketing Librarian, was selected as a member of the ALA Emerging Leaders program for 2010.

Call for volunteers for coordination with missions to Haiti

The Association of National Committees of the Blue Shield (ANCBS) wants to help the people of Haiti.

The earthquake in Haiti of 12th January has caused an enormous devastation. The amount of people that lost their lives is beyond imagination. At the moment basic humanitarian aid and the rebuilding of a functioning infrastructure is crucial.

However, as soon as the situation in Haiti has become more stable, Blue Shield wants to help to enable experts from all over the world to support their Haitian colleagues in assessing the damage to the cultural heritage and therefore to the identity of their country. Subsequently, Blue Shield wants to support recovery, restoration and repair measures necessary to rebuild libraries, archives, museums, monuments and sites.

An important task of ANCBS is to coordinate information. ANCBS needs to know who and where the experts are. ANCBS therefore calls upon archivists, restorers, curators, librarians, architects and other experts to register online as a volunteer.

ANCBS wants to be able to bring experts in contact with those organizations that will send missions to Haiti, and make sure that volunteers will be informed about the situation in Haiti.

Please join Blue Shield to help your Haitian colleagues.

You may find the application form via:

For the statement of Blue Shield on the Haitian earthquake see:

The actions of Blue Shield can also be followed on Facebook:
and Twitter:

New Acquisitions

The following is a list of recent acquisitions of interest to CUL librarians, information professionals, and staff. All of the titles below are shelved in Butler stacks, unless otherwise noted.Archives power: memory, accountability, and social justice / Randall C. Jimerson. CD971 .J56 2009 The case for books: past, present, and future / Robert Darnton. Z116.A2 D37 2009 Copyright and cultural institutions: guidelines for digitization for U.S. libraries, archives, and museums / Peter B. Hirtle, Emily Hudson, & Andrew T. Kenyon. KF2996 .H57 2009g Educating scholars: doctoral education in the humanities / Ronald G. Ehrenberg. AZ183.U5 E35 2010 The world and Wikipedia: how we are editing reality / Andrew Dalby. ZA4482 .D35 2009g ___ Send suggestions for purchase to: Alex Thurman