Steve Chudnick, director of the Bankier Library, joined Brookdale in 2005 as an instruction and reference librarian. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Rochester, a master’s in library and information science from Rutgers University and a master’s in public history from North Carolina State. He has served as director since 2015. In this interview, Chudnick discusses changes as a result of COVID-19, recent developments and services that are available under normal library operations. To learn more about the Bankier Library, visit https://www.brookdalecc.edu/library/
Can you outline changes in library services and your outreach efforts as a result of COVID-19?
We pivoted quickly to provide as many services as possible to students, faculty and staff online. We updated our website to highlight electronic resource collections and moved all research appointments online. Our team has been meeting with students by phone, email, Zoom or whatever works best and is most convenient for our students. A big shout out to Rita Lo. Her hard work in constantly updating and revising the webpages and adding free resources made a big difference in our ability to offer more services online. We could not have made this transition without her.
Similar to what’s been done with our librarians, our Learning Commons Tutors have moved their services online. Our learning assistants and tutors remain available to assist students in specific subjects and for general study skills. We have updated the tutoring webpage (https://www.brookdalecc.edu/academic-tutoring/tutoring-center/) to reflect how students can get in touch with tutors with via phone, email, Zoom meeting or other means. We have changed the tutoring icon in the My Brookdale drop-down menu to point right to our tutors to make it more obvious on how to reach them.
We also removed restrictions that might have affected students’ ability to register such for classes, such as unpaid fines. We have included links to library and tutoring resources in the Academic and Technology Support Course in Canvas. Working with the Office of Information Technology, we have provided loaner laptops to faculty, staff and students. We have worked hard with our partners in various departments to spread the word about changes and available services. Many staff members have also been involved in reaching out to our students to see how they are doing and what their needs are.
We have received positive feedback from our students during this transitional period and welcome any suggestions or comments regarding needs and services.
Can you give us an overview of your team?
The library staff consists of four full-time faculty librarians who provide research assistance, handle collection development and teach information literacy sessions with Brookdale faculty across disciplines. Six full-time library associates wear multiple hats. They work the Information, Circulation and Tech Desks to support students, staff and the general public with their various service needs. The library associates also have technical services responsibilities such as acquisitions, cataloging, processing, interlibrary loans and maintaining the reserve collection. The administrative staff consists of me, the manager of the information commons/systems librarian and an evening/weekend supervisor.
How have library services evolved?
We continue moving towards a larger virtual footprint by offering more digital offerings including databases and eBooks. We have increased student study spaces and incorporated other student support services, including tutoring in the Learning Commons and testing in the Testing Center. The Brookdale Foundation’s generosity enabled us to remake the study rooms from a space with only desks and chairs to rooms containing flat-screen monitors, charging stations, whiteboards and more flexible furniture. We have received a lot of positive feedback from students and other guests about the makeover.
What are some services that students or employees might not realize that you offer?
We loan out brand new laptops. Again, the Brookdale Foundation made this possible. We also offer online scheduling of research appointments with our librarians.
Our extensive special collections room features a New Jersey history collection, photography and graphic arts collections and materials related to Brookdale’s history.
In addition to the Brookdale Community, we also provide services to Monmouth County residents. We encourage residents to become Community Members, which gives them the ability to check out books and to obtain 30-day Wi-Fi access, among other benefits. Residents have the same access to computers and databases as our students and can utilize our print collections, too.
Any upcoming initiatives or recent developments to share?
We are positioning ourselves as the virtual-go-to place on campus to support Open Educational Resources (OER) for our students. OER aims to reduce the cost of attending college by providing free or low-cost textbook options and other free electronic materials for students. Our librarians work closely with faculty to encourage OER adoption and creation.
We welcomed the Testing Center and the Career Studio to our space this past year.
What are some the regular events or programs?
We have several. Writing and research days provide opportunities for students to meet with our librarians and tutors to get hands-on assistance with their course work and research projects. We also sponsor a research award contest each year. Everyone looks forward to our therapy dogs on campus during finals.
Anything else you would like to add that might be helpful to know about the services provided?
Students should know they can ask our staff just about anything. We’ll do what we can to help students succeed. That’s our goal. We provide a great environment and excellent resources. Our staff is outstanding at providing service. Come for a visit, either online or when we are back on campus, and I am sure you’ll be back. We welcome input on how to best serve students, Brookdale employees and the public.
Photo caption: Members of the Bankier Library staff include: (Front row, left to right) Rita Lo, Judi Ungar, Steve Chudnick and Jan McMahon
(Back row, left to right) Pat Brown, Shaun-Marie Cook, Tara Deedmeber, Kelly Thulen, Carol Slaughter and Ethel Brandon
Not pictured: Valerie Bonilla, Amy Clark, Shay Delcurla and Pam Smith