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

Columbia Libraries Launches New Version of Academic Commons

Columbia University Libraries has launched a new version of Academic Commons, the digital research repository for Columbia University and its affiliate institutions. With an updated design and an improved experience on mobile devices, Academic Commons now enables users to access impact information at a glance with a dashboard that features download statistics for each of the user’s shared works. Users also have the option to assign a Creative Commons license to enable other researchers to reuse and remix their research (with attribution, of course).

Columbia-affiliated researchers and scholars can use Academic Commons to provide (or meet funder requirements for) access to all of the digital formats of their scholarship and research, including datasets, conference papers, and music, to anyone with an Internet connection. Works shared through Academic Commons are openly accessible online and discoverable in search engines. Further, digital research materials uploaded to Academic Commons are preserved as part of the Libraries’ long-term digital storage system and assigned a DOI to encourage citation.

Academic Commons provides access to over 25,000 works of Columbia research and scholarship, including the full text of all doctoral theses written at Columbia and Teachers College since 2011, the archives of numerous Columbia-based journals, and the work produced by six University centers. Built on open-source software, it is Columbia’s truly free and open solution for access to, and use of, new knowledge and information connected with Columbia.

Departments, centers, programs, and individual scholars at Columbia and its affiliate institutions are welcome to e-mail to learn more about the Academic Commons program and about how the Columbia University Libraries staff can help you to participate. Academic Commons integrates with a number of web sites and applications as well: Ask us about our API!

Meet Sol Rosario, Library Assistant at Diamond Law Library

“I’m Solangel Rosario, but my colleagues call me Sol. I maintain the physical collection of books and law materials at the library. My expertise includes working knowledge of nearly five languages including French, which is the language I specialize in. My favorite part of my job in the Libraries is interacting with the global community of staff and students that gathers at the law school. We all have such different backgrounds and expertise that it truly mirrors the melting pot that is New York.”

Sol Rosario

GRAMMY Museum Grant Program Awards $200,000 For Music Research And Sound Preservation, including $20,000 to Columbia University Libraries

The GRAMMY Museum® Grant Program announced this week that $200,000 in grants will be awarded to 14 recipients in the United States and Canada to help facilitate a range of research on a variety of subjects, as well as support a number of archiving and preservation programs.

Among this year’s recipients, Columbia University Libraries will be awarded $20,000 to digitize and preserve 400 hours of unique recordings of early electro-acoustic music from the archives of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center (CPEMC). The digital copies will meet international standards of capture at 96kHz/24 bit, will be preserved in a long-term archive, and will be made accessible in the Gabe M. Wiener Music & Arts Library.

Generously funded by the Recording Academy, the GRAMMY MUSEUM Grant Program provides funding annually to organizations and individuals to support efforts that advance the archiving and preservation of the recorded sound heritage of the Americas for future generations, in addition to research projects related to the impact of music on the human condition. In 2008, the Grant Program expanded its categories to include assistance grants for individuals and small to mid-sized organizations to aid collections held by individuals and organizations that may not have access to the expertise needed to create a preservation plan. The assistance planning process, which may include inventorying and stabilizing a collection, articulates the steps to be taken to ultimately archive recorded sound materials for future generations. The deadline each year for submitting letters of inquiry to the Grant Program is Oct. 15. Guidelines and the letter of inquiry form for the 2019 cycle are available at

2018 Recipients of the Libraries’ Outstanding Student Employee Award

Several individuals from a student workforce of more than 300 were recognized with the 2018 Outstanding Student Employee Award. These students have demonstrated exceptional commitment to their work and are recognized for their numerous contributions to our Libraries.

Molly Boord (General Studies), Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Kate Burt (School of Engineering and Applied Science), Digital Scholarship

Daniel Casanova (Teachers College), Science, Engineering, and Social Science Library

Anna Duong (Columbia College), Arthur W. Diamond Law Library

Brandon Harrington (Union Theological Seminary), Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary

Crystal Herrera Pereira (General Studies), Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library

Rebecca Potts (Union Theological Seminary), Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary

Kelly Powers (Columbia College), Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Sabina Espinal Soloranzo (Columbia College), Thomas J. Watson Library of Business and Economics

Congratulations to the award winners and a heartfelt thanks to all of our student employees, without whom our work in the Libraries would be incomplete.

What’s Happening with Barnard Library in Spring/Summer 2018

Great news! Barnard’s new Milstein Teaching and Learning Center opens in September 2018. Because moving presents some logistical challenges, including restoring books and archival materials to their shelves and the library catalog, the Barnard Library will suspend access to some services and resources for a time this summer. If you are a Barnard library user, please familiarize yourself with these key dates between May and September

We Are Your Library

So much of our work in the Libraries involves tools, data, exciting technology, incredible materials, and rare collections. We are harnessing technology in new ways and expanding our ideas of what materials have a place in our acquisitions and archives.

For all the changes in the information landscape, what continue to be most valuable are the human interactions. People with specialized skills make exciting things possible for researchers and learners. The future of the library is long, and the continuum of that arc is our people. Increasingly, we hold subject area expertise, including foreign language skills, and advanced digital literacy. We are what make the Columbia Libraries dynamic and sustainable.

“One of the great things about having librarians, faculty, and students working together is that they all bring different skills to the table. We get to play, we get to invent, we get to push the envelope, we get to ask questions about the library’s future. I come here every day excited to see what we will come up with next.” – Alex Gil, Digital Scholarship Coordinator

Learn more about our staff!

Libraries Receives CLIR Recordings at Risk Grant for Bob Fass Collection

The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) today announced that Columbia University Libraries has been awarded a Recordings at Risk grant to support the digitization of the recently acquired Bob Fass collection.

Bob Fass, pictured here in his New York City-based WBAI studio. Courtesy of Lost Footage Films.

Columbia will preserve and provide access to almost two decades’ worth of audiotapes from the archive of groundbreaking broadcaster Bob Fass. A pioneer of “free form” radio for seven decades, Fass is best known for his late-night program Radio Unnameable. During the sixties it featured unscripted appearances by poets and musicians like Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan, and social activists like Abbie Hoffman and Timothy Leary – a forum where listeners could interact with their idols and one another. In 1968 alone, Fass broadcast live events like the “Yip In” at Grand Central Station, Columbia University student protests, and the Chicago Democratic National convention. Once digitized, these recordings will be a major resource to study mobilization of dissent via mass-media in late-twentieth century America.

Recordings at Risk is a national regranting program that supports the preservation of rare and unique audio and audiovisual content of high scholarly value. Generously funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Recordings at Risk will award a total of $2.3 million between January 2017 and April 2019.

ReCAP Accessions 15 Millionth Item

The country’s largest offsite library shelving facility, the Research Collections and Preservation Consortium (ReCAP), now holds over 15 million items. ReCAP’s 15 millionth item, “Object lessons & the formation of knowledge : the University of Michigan museums, libraries, & collections 1817-2017,” was accessioned April 27, 2018.

In September, the consortium members launched a Shared Collection Initiative, expanding Columbia’s catalog by 7 million records. Columbia faculty, students, and staff now have access to the expanded collection through the Columbia catalog, CLIO. Users can locate additional items in CLIO and request direct delivery to campus.

Ed Cleary (right) and Ian Acker (left), ReCAP staff members, accession the 15th million item, Object lessons & the formation of knowledge : the University of Michigan museums, libraries, & collections 1817-2017.

ReCAP was created in 2000 to support its members’ goals of preserving their library and archival collections and providing access to researchers. ReCAP consists of a preservation repository and resource sharing services, jointly owned and operated by Columbia University, the NYPL, and Princeton, and located on Princeton’s Forrestal Campus. More than 15 million items are currently in ReCAP’s care and used to fulfill approximately 250,000 requests for materials each year, from its partners and from libraries around the world.