Category Archives: Uncategorized

Call for Proposals Issued for Third Annual Performing the Library! Series

It is with great pleasure that we offer Performing the Library! for 2018 – 2019. Now in its third year, this program engages collaboration between the Libraries and Columbia students with a focus on exhibitions and events that celebrate the library as a collection, a space, and a resource. Performing the Library! is an opportunity to bring to life the books and objects that make up our collections and to reflect on the stories, ideas, lives, and creative works that are carefully preserved by the Libraries.

Central to this year’s event is the Mural Project, a “takeover” of the bulletin board spaces in Butler Library. The bulletin boards in Butler offer large and small spaces for exhibitions of student work that reflects on the theme of the library.

For more information about the series and past participants, read this article or visit student-produced exhibits, on display in 300 Butler Library through December 2018.

A student participant in the 2016 – 2017 “Performing the Library!” event reads an original written work.

We are now accepting ideas for 2018 – 2019 exhibits and encourage any student who may be interested to become a part of Performing the Library: a Series of Happenings!

Students can submit individual project ideas on a small-scale or collaborate with peers for a larger group project. We would like to represent as many student projects as possible. The exhibits offer the opportunity to create murals, graffiti works, cutouts, compose original texts, or exhibit photographic works.

Bulletin Boards/Project Spaces
(Measurements are listed as width x height.)

The Mural
Location: 208 Butler Library
Two bulletin board panels each measuring 4’ 10” x 3’.
A proposal for these large bulletin boards should focus on a mural exhibit. The proposal can call for one or both boards. This is a central location with long-range views.

Forgotten Space Project
Location: 211 Butler Library
Four panels each measuring 2’ 7.5” x 4’ 8”.
A proposal for these large bulletin boards should focus on an art exhibit. The proposal can call for one or all four boards.

Foursquare Project
Location: 310 Butler Library
Four bulletin boards each measuring 2’ 9.75” x 2’ 9.75”.
The proposal can provide a theme for all four boards or a single board.

Graduate Reading Rooms – Themed Exhibits
Comparative Literature & Society (615 Butler Library): Two bulletin boards each measuring 1’4” x 3’10”.
Early Modern/Modern Europe and Moral & Political Theory (504 Butler Library): Two boards, one measuring 1’ 4” x 3’ 11” and one measuring 1’ 2.5” x 3’ 11”.
Islamic Studies (602 Butler Library): Two boards, one measuring 1’ 2” x 3’ 7.5” and 1’ 1.5” x 3’ 7.5”.
Latin American Studies (503 Butler Library): Two boards, one measuring 1’ 2.5” x 3’ 11” and 1’ 4” x 3’ 11”.
South Asian Studies (601 Butler Library): One board measuring 2’ 5.25” x 3’ 7.5”.
The exhibits for the reading rooms listed above should focus on the associated theme or geographic location.

Proposals should include the following:

  • Student(s) or group name
  • School/department
  • Identify the preferred location and number of boards
  • Project description detailing the theme or topic and the type of creative work (mural, art, photography, text, etc.)
  • Identify materials to be used for the exhibit (should easily adhere to bulletin board or background)

Proposals should be submitted by November 5, 2018. Proposals will be reviewed by November 19, 2018. Installations will run from December 2018 – January 2019.

To submit your proposal, please send to Nancy Friedland, Librarian for Film Studies and Performing Arts, via email ( and using the subject line Performing the Library – Proposal.


Freedom of Information Archive Receives Two-Year Grant from Arcadia

History Lab and Columbia University Libraries are pleased to announce that a new grant of $407,000 from Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. The grant will enable History Lab to partner with Columbia Libraries to continue building the Freedom of Information Archive (FOIA), which is already the world’s largest database of declassified documents.

The FOIA Archive was created to help researchers, journalists, and private citizens explore the ever-expanding universe of electronic records with state-of-the-art tools developed using data science. It now includes more than three million documents from seven different collections. No less important, it features unique metadata derived from techniques like topic modeling and named-entity recognition. Arcadia support will allow Columbia to continue growing the archive, preserve it permanently, and keep it freely accessible for the entire world.

In the first year, Arcadia support will help revamp the History Lab’s Application Programming Interface so researchers have direct access to the data, which will soon include hundreds of thousands of new documents recently made available by the Central Intelligence Agency. There will also be a new web interface developed with the help of Columbia Libraries, with a launch date set for June 2020. Columbia’s Vice Provost and University Librarian, Ann Thornton, will appoint an advisory board of stakeholders and partners.

Arcadia is a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. It supports charities and scholarly institutions that preserve cultural heritage and the environment. Arcadia also supports projects that promote open access and all of its awards are granted on the condition that any materials produced are made available for free online. Since 2002, Arcadia has awarded more than $500 million to projects around the world.

“It has never been more important to preserve once-secret records from the recent past, our last chance to ensure basic democratic accountability,” said History-Lab Principal Investigator Matthew Connelly. “But it is never easy to make sure these records are preserved permanently, especially when we are dealing with complex data, and not just documents. That’s why this partnership with Columbia Libraries, and this commitment from Arcadia, is absolutely crucial.”

“This project supports our efforts to make information as open and accessible as possible, particularly in an area of critical interest to scholars and citizens alike,” said Ann Thornton, Vice Provost and University Librarian at Columbia University Libraries. “Our involvement in this work furthers our goal to inspire an authentic and purposeful world view.”

History Lab also recently received a $150,000 grant from the American Council of Learned Societies to further extend the reach of the FOIA Archive and train scholars in how to use it. It has also benefited from grants obtained from the MacArthur Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Brown Institute for Media Innovation, and Columbia’s Global Policy Initiative.

Let there be light!

Winnie Xuan Zhu, ’17GSAS, captured the stacks of Lehman Library in a photo she titled “Let There Be Light,”offering her thanks to Lehman staff.

“Recalling the past year, most of the time I spent was in Lehman, which was so unforgettable. [I’d like to] say thanks for all your work and the great environment in Lehman.”

Thanks to Xuan Zhu for her kind words!

Library Tours

Welcome to Columbia University Libraries!  We are happy to offer several tours of our various library spaces during the first few weeks of classes.  (For information about ALL library locations, please visit our locations page).

Butler Library:
Tuesday, 9/8 – 4pm
Wednesday, 9/9 – 4pm
Thursday, 9/10 – 4pm
Friday, 9/11 – 4pm
Wednesday, 9/16 – 4pm
Thursday, 9/17 – 4pm
Friday, 9/18 – 4pm

**All tours meet in Butler Library lobby near the security desk at 4pm.  Sign up here, or show up in person.

Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library:
Thursday, 9/10 – 12pm
Friday, 9/11 – 12pm
Tuesday, 9/15 – 12pm
Thursday,  9/17 – 12pm
Friday, 9/18 – 12pm
Monday, 9/21 – 12pm
Tuesday, 9/22 – 12pm
Thursday, 9/24 – 12pm
Friday, 9259 – 12pm

Tours open to all students.   Tours last 45 minutes; limited to 15 people/tour; sign-up sheets at the Avery Library Service Desk.  Tours meet at the Service Desk.

Lehman Social Sciences Library
Tuesday, 9/8 – 10am
Wednesday, 9/9 – 10am
Thursday, 9/10 – 12pm

Starr East Asian Library
Tuesday, 9/8 – 3pm
Wednesday, 9/9 – 10:30am & 3pm
Thursday, 9/10 – 10:30am & 3pm
Friday, 9/11 – 10:30am & 3pm
Saturday, 9/12 – 3pm
Monday, 9/14 – 10:30am & 3pm
Tuesday, 9/15 – 10:30am & 3pm
Wednesday, 9/16 – 10:30am & 3pm
Thursday, 9/17 – 10:30am & 3pm
Tours open to all students.  Tours meet at the Service Desk.

Click here for iPod tours of Starr East Asian Library
Available in English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan.


Butler Library Now Lending Laptop Chargers

The Libraries have partnered with the Columbia College Student Council (CCSC) and General Studies Student Council (GSSC) to provide loans of commonly-used laptop chargers. CCSC and GSCC purchased six laptop chargers available for check-out from the Butler Library Reserves desk (208 Butler Library). These chargers are available for four-hour loans to students, faculty, and staff who have forgotten their laptop chargers. This is a pilot program that will run through the 2014-2015 academic year.

“The Libraries are delighted to partner with CCSC and GSSC to provide lending of commonly used Mac, Toshiba, and Dell laptop chargers,” said Francie Mrkich, Director of Access Services. CCSC At Large Representative to Academic Affairs Grayson Warrick adds, “We hope that with this program, we can save time and hassle for students who may forget to bring their chargers to Butler.

For a complete list of chargers available, see Laptop Chargers Loan Pilot Program on the Libraries website.

New Columbia Digital Library Collections Website (Beta)

Columbia University Libraries / Information Systems is pleased to announce the beta launch of our new Digital Library Collections website. The new site combines into one platform the digital content and metadata from many of our digital special collections projects and online exhibitions. Until now, all of our digital projects’ content has been managed within separate, standalone web/database applications and discoverable only in that context.  In the new system, our digital content may be viewed project-by-project or by using a keyword search across all available projects. The new site will also allow us to integrate streaming video and audio into the content. In the future we expect our Digital Library Collections also to be discoverable within the Columbia’s aggregated CLIO search system as well as from the Digital Public Library of America.

Your feedback will greatly benefit our development process.  Please visit the site and use the Feedback function in the Help menu at the top right hand corner or at the bottom of the page. We will also be doing formal user testing during the beta period. The full public launch of the website is planned for Winter 2014. Improvements and additional content ingest will continue after launch, and we welcome your continued thoughts and questions as issues arise. The URL is:

Library Tours

Welcome to Columbia University Libraries!  We are happy to offer several tours of our various library spaces during the first few weeks of classes.  (For information about ALL library locations, please visit our locations page).

Butler Library:
Tuesday, 9/2 – 4pm
Wednesday, 9/3 – 4pm
Thursday, 9/4 – 4pm
Friday, 9/5 – 4pm

**All tours meet in Butler Library lobby near the security desk at 4pm.  Sign up here, or show up in person.

Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library:
Thursday, 9/4 – 12pm
Friday, 9/5 – 12pm
Monday, 9/8 – 12pm
Tuesday, 9/9 – 12pm
Thursday,  9/11 – 12pm
Friday, 9/12 – 12pm
Monday, 9/15 – 12pm
Tuesday, 9/16 – 12pm
Thursday, 9/18 – 12pm
Friday, 9/19 – 12pm

**Tours open to all students.   Tours last 45 minutes; limited to 15 people/tour; sign-up sheets at the Avery Library Service Desk.  Tours meet at the Service Desk.

Global Studies
Monday, September 8th – 4pm
South Asia (Southeast Asia also, per interest) library resources tour at 308-309 Lehman Library.

**The tour will start with a sit down talk/discussion and continue with a tour of various libraries with specific emphasis on South Asia/Southeast Asia library content.

Starr East Asian Library
Thursday, September 4th – 3pm-5pm
300 Kent Hall

**Tours open to all students.  Tours meet at the Service Desk.

Graduate Student – “Getting Your Bearings” Orientations
If you’re a graduate student, you may wish to attend one of our “Getting Your Bearings” orientations, designed to help you begin using the powerful information tools at your disposal and to point you to some of the most important library services and personnel at Butler Library and elsewhere on campus.

Wednesday August 27  at 4:00 pm
Thursday  August 28 at 2:00 pm
Tuesday September 2 at 3:30 pm
Wednesday September 3 at 2:00 pm
Thursday September 4 at 12:00 pm
Thursday September 4 at 3:30 pm

**The sessions begin with a 40 to 45 minute tour of key points and  services in Butler Library, including an intro to our Rare Book and Manuscript library.  This is likely to be of most interest and  relevance to people working in the humanities, history, and social sciences. The tours will begin at the Reference Desk in  Butler 301.  The second half of the session,  which will take place in Butler  203, will be devoted to an overview of the Libraries’ online information  system and ways to get the most out of it, and would be of value to all graduate students.  Participants who want to attend only the second half should feel free  come directly to Butler 203 (on 8/27, 9/2, 9/3 and 9/4) or Butler 306 (on Thursday 8/28) about 40 to 45 minutes after the beginning  of the tour.

Finals Study Space Update

Happy Spring!  Finals are just around the corner, and we want to ensure you are informed about the availability of study space in library facilities during finals this semester.  The Study Spaces Open Now page shows which libraries are currently open, and the Library Hours page provides a calendar view for each library’s hours of operation.  For a full list of study spaces in library facilities, please visit the Study Spaces page.

From May 1 through May 15, Watson Library will be open to graduate students, faculty, staff, and undergraduates in Economics and Business (GS) Monday through Friday from 8am – 7pm.  At all other times the library will be open to all valid Columbia ID holders.  Others who need library resources or research assistance found only at Watson Library during restricted hours may request access and assistance at the circulation desk.  Watson Library is open to all Columbia affiliates during other times throughout the semester.

We will also continue to extend access during the finals period at other library facilities as follows:

  • The Science & Engineering Library will offer study hall hours until 3am Sundays through Thursday until the end of the semester.
  • Lehman Social Sciences Library will hold study hall hours until 4am through the end of the semester.
  • Butler Library will continue to be open for study 24 hours a day, seven days a week during the semester.  Beginning April 21, 24-hour study will be extended to reading rooms on the 5th and 6th floors through the end of the semester.

Law Library catalog records added to CLIO

Great news:  439,141 bibliographic records from the Columbia Law School Library catalog have been loaded into the Columbia Libraries catalog (CLIO).  Researchers in a variety of disciplines such as human rights, history, gender, international relations, and early church history can now find relevant material without checking each catalog separately. Law is now the fourth largest collection in the catalog after Offsite and Online (each at 2.6 million) and Butler Stacks (1.07 million).

As a reminder, improving our online catalog is a continuous process – this addition is the first of a series of important additions to our catalog in the near future.  Your feedback is a vital component to our work.  We welcome comments and suggestions for improving CLIO.  Please use the Suggestions & Feedback form under the “Help” menu in the upper right corner of CLIO, or Ask a Librarian.

CLIO is built on top of the open-source Blacklight search and discovery engine in use at many peer institutions including Stanford, University of Virginia, University of Wisconsin, and Johns Hopkins University. The underlying technologies powering the search are the open-source search index SOLR and the Ruby on Rails web framework.  

Keep up with the latest additions and improvements to CLIO by following the CLIO News blog.