Chief Librarian Michael Miller: “Students know we are here.”
Last month Chief Librarian Michael Miller began his tenth year at Bronx Community College.
“I’ve been a librarian since forever. In the Boy Scouts, I was the troop librarian. When I was at a community college myself in the Penn State system, I was a research assistant in the library. I eventually went to library school at Rutgers.” He came to BCC after being a “frontline librarian” at Queens College.
“We are a typical academic library within a university system. Not only do we have the 80,000 books on our shelves and the 200 databases that the CUNY system subscribes to, but we also have the talents of our library faculty members, services like electronic research, group study rooms, and some two hundred computers in the library proper, right beside all that quiet seating.”
More than just a place for research and study, the library has become a central part of campus life. “A lot of people come here to relax, to connect with their student friends, to study, and to escape the pressures of the classroom.” Some also find it a refuge from the tensions of life beyond the campus.
The library was well prepared for the impact of COVID-19.
“We’re happy to say that during the pandemic we were still operating. Our very technologically agile library faculty members pivoted quickly to Zoom. A lot of our content was already digital.
“With the spring, we will be expanding our hours. We will be reintroducing access to the reserves collection, which is especially important for students who can’t afford to buy their own textbooks. Instruction and reference will continue to be offered in both face-to-face mode and online. And we’ll be back to doing our collection development and bringing in new materials.”
Programs will gradually be returning as well. “The New York Public Library will be coming in a few times in the spring to make sure that the students get their NYPL cards. We will continue our book displays and collection highlights based on the ethnic focuses of each month: Women’s History Month, Gay and Lesbian History Month, Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month. As our facilities open, our partners over in English and History will want to make use of our space again for their lectures as well. We’ll just have to plug it all back in!”
The library’s stunning design is the work of master architect A.M. Stern, whose work now completes the vision of the central Quad conceived by the campus’s first master builder Stanford White over 120 years ago.
“I am always struck by entering the library, coming off the Quad through the main doors and up the steps,” reflects Chief Librarian Miller. “The wow factor is just so strong. I still feel it, even nine years later.”