I Love My Librarian Award Winner Danielle Apfelbaum: Invigorating Campus Life

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by Steve Zalusky

Information literacy is a must for today's students.

Librarians like Danielle Apfelbaum, reference and instruction librarian at the Wisser Library at the New York Institute of Technology's Old Westbury campus, play an essential role in connecting them to the information resources they need to achieve academic success.

Gabrielle St. Leger, her nominator for the 2016 I Love My Librarian Award, said, "Danielle has worked to create a more technologically sound library system for our NYIT students and faculty," St. Leger said. "She is always available and looking to add the right resources to make sure our students grow and stretch their understanding and  specialized knowledge."

St. Leger, dean of campus life at the New York Institute of Technology, stressed that Apfelbaum makes sure students are given resources they will actually use, citing her promotion of the citation and reference management tool RefMe. The reference tool enables students to scan book or journal barcodes, turn printed text into digital text in order to save quotes and reference web pages, articles, books and videos directly from your browser in their research.

“Danielle is one of our most forward-thinking librarians,” said Francine Glazer, Ph.D., NYIT associate provost for Educational Innovation and director of the Center for Teaching and Learning in a statement released by the New York Institute of Technology. “She has successfully introduced a number of educational technologies to our students, including Google Apps, Kahoot, Prezi, Poll Everywhere, and others. Her energy and innovations, and her focus on evidence-based practices, have been instrumental in creating new partnerships with faculty and students.”

In the NYIT statement, it says that Apfelbaum, during orientations, "introduces students to library services in a way that makes them feel comfortable and knowledgeable. Her sessions also give students' more insight and confidence into the research process, which is essential to their academic success. Additionally, she holds workshops on plagiarism and the school's academic integrity policy. She helps students develop information literacy skills to correct misconceptions about online information and shows students how to evaluate and cite sources properly."

St. Leger calls Apfelbaum a librarian who promotes a more collaborative 21st century university, where silos are a way of the past among leaders in higher education. She added that she has worked to improve the student experience, especially in the school's summer orientation program, providing incoming students with the tools not only to follow the right path academically, but also socially and emotionally.

"As we have adjusted our schedule, Danielle has been a team player, making herself available and adjusting the program students
experience as we introduce the library services to them," she said.. "She makes it fun, which helps students actually feel comfortable and knowledgeable to use our resources on day one when they are back on campus for the fall."

In addition, Apfelbaum has partnered with Student Affairs as it provides workshops to departments that have had issues with academic integrity. St. Leger said Apfelbaum manages the educational sanction of students who violate the school's academic integrity policy.

St. Leger said, "She uses technology in her means of educating students on the academic integrity policy in a way that is engaging as
well as practical. So much so, that my Vice President of Student Affairs consistently comments on how great of a Prezi presentation that she put together
and references her work as a best practice to model as new professionals join our division.

"I am confident once our students leave her Academic Integrity Workshop, that there will be no further issues of recidivism."

Apfelbaum has had an impact on the student body, as well, as an advisor to one of the Greek-lettered Fraternities, Delta Epsilon Psi. Her work earned her Advisor of the Year in 2015. Her work with students also earned her plaudits from the NYIT president's office, which awarded her the Presidential Award for Student Engagement.

St. Leger said, "Many people come to work, even at institutions of higher education where we are to be student centered, and forget their purpose and the mission of
the organization. Danielle makes us a better place and helps us to truly prepare the next great global leaders that NYIT produces."

Apfelbaum, in an interview conducted at the time she received her award, said her favorite part of the job is working with students and faculty.

"Helping students to confront what can be really intimidating projects and walk away feeling like they can do that job is the best feeling in the world," she said.

She said, "Libraries are a very important part of campus life. We're not only here to help students find resources, but we're here to help them connect. We know a lot about what's going on (at the) campus, what our different faculty members are working on. It puts us in a unique position.to be able to say, 'Hey, you're interested in that topic? You should really talk to doctor so-and-so.'"

She said winning the award "makes me feel wonderful about the impact that I"m making on the people that I work with every day, because I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them."

The I Love My Librarian Award is sponsored by Carnegie Corporation of New York, The New York Times, and the New York Public Library. The award is administered by the American Library Association.

Read more about the award and other 2016 winners at www.ilovelibraries.org/lovemylibrarian.

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