Meet Breck Witte, Director of Library Information Technology

“I’m Breck Witte and as Director of Library IT, I’m privileged to lead a team of dedicated and resourceful professionals who provide a range of computing services to the University community. From workstations in our digital centers and other public spaces to CLIO, Borrow Direct, ReCAP discovery to delivery, and related services, our focus is on facilitating discovery and speeding delivery and fulfillment in support of research, teaching, and learning. My favorite part of my job is finding innovative ways to knit together disparate systems to provide as seamless a user experience as possible.”

Breck Witte

Meet Yingwen Huang, Processing Archivist

“I’m Yingwen Huang and I arrange and describe archival collections in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, specifically historical manuscripts and documents in the Chinese language. My interests include East Asian languages, history, and culture. My favorite part of my job is making our collections more accessible to everyone and assisting researchers from all over the world in learning more about our collections and utilizing them.”

Yingwen Huang

Meet Gustavo Martinez, Library Assistant at Butler Library

“My name is Gustavo Martinez and I work in the Library Information Office in Butler Library where I create alumni cards, take care of overdue fines, assist visitors or scholars in gaining access to the Libraries, and other tasks. My favorite parts of my job are the many people I meet throughout the day and helping them navigate the elaborate library system at Columbia. Everyone that comes into the office has an interesting story to tell and makes it an enjoyable experience to be a part of the Libraries.”

Gustavo Martinez

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
Locations:
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 (nef4@columbia.edu) 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.

Meet Polyxeni Georgiadi, Bibliographic Assistant at Butler Library

“I am Polyxeni Georgiadi and I work for the Collections Acquisition & Description department in Butler Library cataloging books on fine arts and belles lettres in various languages, particularly in Greek. My expertise includes creating records and classifying books according to their subjects. I am a very detail-oriented person, so editing and correcting records is satisfying and rewarding to me. My goal is to make every title easily searchable for our users.”

Polyxeni Georgiadi

Meet Carolyn Bratnober, Public Services Librarian at The Burke Library

“I’m Carolyn Bratnober and I work in the Burke Library, helping students and faculty with research, looking at rare books and archives, planning events and exhibits, and coordinating the library’s social media accounts. My interests include LGBTQ studies, disability studies, mass media studies, religious studies and theology, and teaching library technology skills. My favorite part of my job in the Libraries is helping students to make their studies easier (and less expensive!) by using quick and easy library resources.”

Carolyn Bratnober

Meet John Tofanelli, Librarian for British & American History & Literature

“I’m John Tofanelli and I build the Libraries’ print and online collections in many areas, including British and American history and literature, and African-American studies. One of my special interests is in periodicals and newspapers from earlier historical periods, since these can provide us with valuable insights into the times during which they were produced. My favorite part of my job in the Libraries is engaging in dialogue with student researchers. I love hearing about their projects and helping them to identify relevant resources in our incredibly rich collections.”

John Tofanelli

Meet Alex Gil, Digital Scholarship Librarian

“I’m Alex Gil and I collaborate with faculty, students and colleagues on scholarly and archival projects involving advanced use of technology. My expertise includes the work of the humanities writ-large, experimental computing, Caribbean surrealist poetry and global flows of knowledge. My favorite part of my job in the Libraries is coming up with elegant and imaginative solutions to stubborn problems and mentoring future scholar-librarians.”

Alex Gil

Meet Morgan Adams, Mellon Conservator for Special Collections

“I’m Morgan Adams and I treat the Libraries’ rare books, manuscripts, and works of art on paper to make them available for research and teaching, exhibition and digitization, and to ensure their preservation for generations to come. My expertise includes book-binding history, the history of artists’ materials, and the technical analysis of paper-and parchment-based objects. My favorite part of my job is working with students and faculty to make discoveries about our collections, to better understand their materials, manufacture, and their history of use and change over time.”

Morgan Adams