Member Spotlight: The Libraries at Hunter College

Hunter College Libraries provide service to some 22,000 students. Two of its four facilities are located on the main campus on 68th street: The Main Library, a nine-story library that sees much of its activity from students in the Schools of Arts & Sciences and Education, and the Zabar Art Library, opened in 2008. The Health Professions Library on Hunter's Brookdale Campus on 25th Street serves Hunter's School of Nursing, as well as programs in Physical Therapy, Medical Lab Sciences and Communication Sciences. The newest branch, The Schools of Social Work and Public Health Library, is housed in the Silberman Building on 119th Street in East Harlem. This library, opened in 2011, serves both the Silberman School of Social Work and the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter.

HunterCollege.pngPhoto provided by Hunter College Libraries

Situated within an entirely urban campus, the libraries serve as a gathering area in addition to a space to study. These dual purposes draw one million visitors to the Main Library each year. In order to accommodate the varying needs of Hunter's students, renovations are underway to modernize the Main Library; the main floor will transition into an Information Commons, complete with collaborative work areas, electronic whiteboards, and an enclosed eating area. A partnership with Hunter’s Center for Reading and Writing and the campus IT Department will create a one-stop information area for students who need assistance with course projects.

The re-opening of the re-conceptualized main floor is projected for late Spring 2013. Extensive renovations to the other floors of the Main Library will follow. This $45 million campaign is a long-term project, and library leadership foresees a redesigned space capable of meeting the fast changing needs of the library's patrons.

All of the libraries at Hunter have been instrumental in facilitating the College’s mobile and digital presence. Librarians average over 600 instructional sessions a year within the scope of Hunter's programs. Librarians also provide instruction in for-credit courses in information studies. The library is heavily involved in online textbook and instructional design initiatives, and has already established a benchmark procedure in electric reserves and copyright clearance. Plans are underway to expand these initiatives to other CUNY college campuses.

The librarians and staff at Hunter eagerly anticipate the time when their 21st century library practices have the physical surroundings to match.

Many thanks to Dan Cherubin, Chief Librarian and Associate Dean, Hunter College Libraries, for his kind assistance with this article.