ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries Award Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College/City University of New York Library Application

Background and Institutional Context

The mission of Eugenio María de Hostos Community College is to provide educational opportunities leading to socio-economic mobility for first and second generation Hispanics, African Americans, and other residents of New York City who have encountered significant barriers to higher education. This institutional mission was founded on the work and contributions of an intellectual giant, Eugenio María de Hostos, a man who dedicated his life to education and to justice. A Puerto Rican educator, writer and patriot, Eugenio María de Hostos was widely known throughout Latin America as a strong advocate of civic reforms. He was a lifelong fighter for the independence of Puerto Rico, Cuba and the other Latin American and Caribbean countries, fighting to abolish the institution of slavery. His support for women's rights, especially in education, was more than theoretical, since he had decisive influence on the educational systems of Chile and the Dominican Republic in which women were included for the first time under his leadership. A life-long writer, Hostos’ Obras Completas (complete works) published in 20 volumes in 1939 by the Cuban government, includes novels, children’s stories, essays on literature, education, law, morality, politics, sociology, journalistic works and notes for his classroom lectures. During his time in New York, Hostos was at the center of a growing community of Caribbean political activists, and is considered to be one of the pioneers of the city’s Latino community, one that would grow to nearly 2 million residents.

Mott Haven: The Heart of the Latino South Bronx

The impact of Hostos Community College/CUNY on the people of the South Bronx cannot be underestimated. Since 1970 it has served as an anchor to the predominantly Latino community surrounding it. Located in the heart of the South Bronx in the neighborhood of Mott Haven, Hostos is an open-admissions, transitional bilingual institution that was established in 1968 in response to the demands of Puerto Rican and other Hispanic leaders who demanded the creation of a college to meet the needs of the local community. The founding of Hostos Community College was the first occasion in New York that an institution of higher learning had deliberately been sited in a neighborhood like the South Bronx, one of the nation's poorest congressional districts. Hostos' open admissions policy, bilingual educational model, and geography have remained enduring signs of Hostos' identity as an institution dedicated to higher education for poor and predominantly Hispanic students. The College takes pride in its historical role in educating students from diverse ethnic, racial, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, particularly Hispanics and African Americans. An integral part of fulfilling its mission is to provide transitional language instruction for all English-as-a-second-language learners along with Spanish/English bilingual education offerings to foster a multicultural environment for all students. Hostos is nationally known for its bilingual approach to education, allowing Spanish-dominant students to begin courses in their native language while learning English.

Hostos Community College is part of the City University of New York (CUNY), the nation’s largest urban university with 11 senior colleges, 6 community colleges, a graduate school, a law school and a school of biomedical education. The modern campus sits just blocks from Yankee Stadium and major expressways in a transportation area know as “the Hub.” It functions as a Hub in many valuable ways to the local community: educationally, culturally and socially. Hostos enrolls approximately 4,500 students each year—60-65% is full-time, 30-35% percent part-time. Sixty percent of our students are Hispanic/Latino (Dominican, Puerto Rican, Central/South American) and 30% black. Seventy-two percent of our students are female. The College offers an innovative and robust liberal arts program leading to an Associate in Arts, an Associate in Science degree, or transfer to four-year colleges upon graduation. Hostos also offers an Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree as well as a variety of career programs in the Allied Health professions, paralegal studies, public administration, education, urban health, and business. Hostos further serves the South Bronx through its Hostos-Lincoln Academy High School which was named a national Blue Ribbon School of Excellence during the 2001-2002 academic year.

The Hostos Library Department

Knowledge and freedom were what Eugenio María de Hostos wanted for his own people and for all the people of the world. As the first college in the United States to bear his name, we strive for no less. As the library that serves this college, we are passionately dedicated to the mission of our institution and have designed all of our programs and initiatives around helping our college meet its’ institutional and community goals. In this regard, we have developed a mission statement that bolsters our commitment to supporting our students in the acquisition of English and the critical academic literacy skills that will serve to break down the barriers that have contributed to the exclusion of our community from higher education in the past. Thus, in 2003/04 we revised our mission statement to reflect an emphasis on teaching and defining ourselves as a teaching library. Moreover, as the library that bears his name, we have claimed our role as a research and community resource for information by and about Eugenio María de Hostos in the United States. By establishing a unique collection for research and study on Hostos at Hostos, we strive to provide a unique opportunity for our students, faculty and our surrounding communities from the Bronx and all of New York City to explore with us the rich threads that are brought together in the life experience and works of this extraordinary man.

Our vision of the Hostos Library is that of a centralized empowerment zone focused on a student-centered, active learning environment. At the heart of our mission is our Information Literacy initiative, which we view as the driving force behind our vision for the Library. We believe it is our duty and role to provide our students with these critical skills in order for them to be successful in their academic and life pursuits, and all of our programming, collection development and instructional activities are founded on this belief. Eight fulltime library faculty, four faculty adjuncts, six fulltime administrative support staff, six regular part time support staff and a revolving team of student aides serve this population of approximately 4500 students and 155 fulltime instructional staff. The library is open 7 days a week for total of 68 hours, operating and staffing four public services desks at Reference, Circulation, Reserves and Media Services. In this application we will highlight three primary initiatives, or activity areas, that we believe define our role as a community college library, meet the ACRL criteria for excellence, and are representative of excellence in academic librarianship in the community college environment. The three programmatic areas detailed below include our instruction initiative, grants program and library-faculty curricular collaboration activities.

I. Creativity and Innovation in Meeting the Needs of Hostos Community College

Several years ago the library department made a strategic decision to take the lead in making the library’s teaching agenda an institutional priority with a goal to make the library a visible and critical partner in the college's teaching and learning mission. Thus, the library department has gradually come to be recognized as the academic department that it is, with a teaching agenda of its own that is now reflected through proactive curriculum development. The Middle States review and the accreditation standards presented a golden opportunity to advocate for the library as an academic department and put forward a new, more dynamic image of library faculty—that of educator and faculty partner. We did this by identifying the most important initiatives on our campus and worked to demonstrate how the library department supports those initiatives. In our case these priorities were retention, recruitment, academic integrity, and writing across the curriculum.

We developed a teaching agenda that supports the programs and priorities of the institution and took a proactive approach to presenting the library’s programmatic offerings, rather than our traditionally more comfortable, reactive approach to waiting to be asked to give a tour or teach a workshop. We sought to position ourselves as the invaluable teaching partners that we are, with unique expertise in the information technologies and critical thinking skills that are so crucial to the success of our students and faculty. We market and promote our curriculum and ourselves, showing that as library faculty, we use our information technology and literacy expertise, pedagogic skills and enthusiasm for collaboration, to contribute significantly to the Hostos mission. We believe our approach and program to be innovative and creative in meeting the needs of our community. Our Library mission statement is truly the starting point for a presentation and description of our instruction program and information literacy initiative.

Library Mission Statement

As an academic department, the Hostos Community College Library functions as a dynamic center of teaching and learning. The Library provides information literacy tools that enhance the pursuit of knowledge by teaching our college community to retrieve, critically evaluate and synthesize information for academic, professional and personal pursuits.

In this thriving urban environment, we partner with each academic department to broaden and contextualize all areas of study, selecting and using the necessary instructional materials, related equipment and services that will assist the college in meeting its educational, cultural and social obligations.

As vanguards of information, the library faculty supports an environment of free and critical thought to realize the goals of a bilingual, metropolitan and multicultural community college.

From our Information Literacy Program Mission Statement

No student should graduate from Hostos Community College without the ability to formulate a research question or problem, to determine its information requirements, to locate and retrieve the relevant information, to organize, analyze, evaluate, treat critically and synthesize the information and to communicate and present that information in a cohesive and logical fashion. Moreover, no student should graduate from Hostos without understanding the ethical, legal and socio-political issues surrounding information and knowledge and how it is produced. The students here attending college in the South Bronx must be afforded an equal opportunity to acquire these skills if they are to participate as equal members of society in the 21st century.

Library Instruction Program

As noted earlier, our Information Literacy initiative is the driving force behind our vision for the Library. Our multi-level, curriculum integrated, information literacy program involves campus-wide faculty development, a new wireless electronic classroom for teaching, a re-trained library faculty, an incentive-based laptop loan program, the provision of high quality, bilingual instructional materials including an online, interactive Bilingual Information Literacy Tutorial and an ever-expanding library Web site with resources for students and faculty.

Library faculty have been making connections with disciplinary faculty for many years, providing unique and varied opportunities for our students to acquire fundamental academic and life skills through our information literacy initiatives. Similar to writing, information literacy skills are best learned over time, through practice and repetition, and they are the very skills our students need to pass the CUNY Proficiency Exam, a graduation requirement for all CUNY students, that tests student ability at reading and writing comprehension in English. Getting Hostos students through the CPE is a major college-wide priority and challenge. Since information literacy focuses on critical thinking, reading, evaluation and the use of information to enhance learning and produce new knowledge, it can be especially effective when taught in the context of disciplinary coursework by the classroom instructor in collaboration with Library faculty. With expertise in teaching research strategies and use of information resources, Library faculty know that information literacy skills facilitate the acquisition of disciplinary knowledge, and that instruction and practice in these skills “supports pedagogy focused on the development of research, critical thinking, and writing or other communication skills.” 1

In 2001, the Library initiated its multilevel, curriculum-integrated Information Literacy program to address the library’s role in supporting the college’s general education goals and teaching general education competencies. We now offer a panoply of research and instructional resources but we started out with three (out of an eventual six) foundational IL open workshops. When we created our IL program, we approached the Counseling department, whose faculty teach the College Orientation course; we were able to convince them that instead of simply assigning their students to read the section of their textbook on library research skills, that they could make attendance in our three foundational open workshops a requirement for the course. The College Orientation faculty would not have to use any of their once-a-week class sessions to cover IL, since students would sign up for the IL workshops during periods when they had no class sessions. It has been a highly successful strategy for both the Library and Counseling departments.

In 2002, the college set out to rethink and redesign our liberal arts core curriculum. After decades of a standard distribution model, with vague general education goals, the college-wide curriculum committee emerged from months of discussion and meetings with a cluster model that includes a General Education requirement of 21-22 credits, an 18-20 credit discipline-based cluster with 4 distinct choices and a final 20 credits of electives, which would include articulated “options,” or the equivalent of a minor. In addition, a set of distinct core general education competencies were identified and agreed upon as the fundamental skills we wanted our students to master by the time they graduated. It is also relevant to note here that the library department has representation on the College-wide Curriculum committee, the CPE Committee, the Writing Across the Curriculum Committee and the Center for Teaching and Learning Council, so we are very much involved with program development and implementation.

When the library faculty successfully integrated IL into the Freshman Orientation course, we in effect managed to insert information literacy into the new Liberal Arts core curriculum through the inclusion of the required College Orientation course. Thus, as of fall 2003, all Liberal Arts students take 2-3 information literacy workshops as part of the college’s general education requirements. In a further sign that faculty in other academic departments are seeing the value of information literacy, in the spring of 2005 the English department voted to require all students enrolled in English 111, the second semester of Freshman Composition in which research papers are assigned, to take an IL module comprised of two of our IL workshops that address research skills and academic integrity.

We now offer six different open workshops, each lasting 75 minutes, which also include hands-on use of wireless laptops. The curriculum addresses the five Information Literacy Standards as designated and described in the Association of College and Research Libraries’ Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. We teach basic IL skills, including how to use online catalogs, research databases and the Internet, but our focus is on teaching the lasting and transferable skills that all citizens of this information age need to know: how to decide what kind of information one needs in any particular instance, how to use language to create search strategies (now an essential skill in a digitally-based research environment), how to critically evaluate information and its sources, how to decode digital records and citations, and how to use information legally and ethically—all skills that support the acquisition of core general education competencies. Our curriculum was carefully and thoughtfully designed to include specific learning outcomes in each module with clear objectives for each session. Each session includes exercises designed to engage the student in demonstrating that they have met the learning goals.

We also offer course-related workshops for any faculty member who requests one. However, our approach to these customized IL workshops is innovative: before we work with a class, the faculty member must first require that the students take at least two of our open workshops (again, attending workshops outside of their regular class schedules) so that when the faculty member brings in their class, the students have already had some experience with using information tools and resources. In each of our open workshops, we sign students’ Attendance Verification Forms so instructors know their students have attended the workshop(s). All together, we teach approximately 80 workshops per semester, about one-fourth of which are targeted course-related workshops.

We have come to realize that IL instruction can be used as a powerful language-learning tool to reinforce language acquisition of ESL students and this has led to exciting collaborations with faculty and students in our Language and Cognition and English departments. Because part of a researcher’s strategy is to choose vocabulary that will correspond to the subject descriptors in the records of indexes and full text databases, library catalogs and even the freer-wheeling syntax of Web indexing, we strive to make use of teaching strategies that focus on how to choose keywords, synonyms and related terms and how to combine them to create successful results. We also use the pedagogy of IL to reinforce academic literacy skills such as how to engage in the process of research and critical evaluation that leads from broad, still-fuzzy results to narrowly focused, productive results. We often collaborate with disciplinary faculty to create workshops and information-based assignments and resources targeting a specific discipline.

One example of how we work can be found in a collaboration between a library faculty member and two faculty members who teach sections of Intensive English, a content-based ESL course that includes a module on the Holocaust and World War II. As the librarian and ESL teachers discussed creating a course-related workshop, they decided that many of the most useful resources for learning about the Holocaust are web-based resources that include art, photography, oral histories, letters and other primary source documents. The librarian created an online, annotated Pathfinder consisting of several of the most useful websites and an instructional handout to be used in the research workshop by the students in the two Intensive English sections. The library faculty member and class instructor team-taught the session, focusing on specific resources and the research assignment. In the weeks following these workshops, the librarian followed up with one-on-one work with students who needed help as they completed their research paper. Rubrics can then be applied to student work products to determine if the students have grasped the concepts and have demonstrated proficiency. This example of how we work with disciplinary faculty was so successful that it has been repeated for three years now. We try to work in this same fashion with all disciplinary faculty. English and Language and Cognition faculty are the most active in requesting course-related, collaborative workshops such as the one described, but since 2001 when we created our IL program, we have seen the steady rise in participation from all academic departments, and approximately 50 percent of Hostos faculty require students enrolled in their courses to take at least two of our IL open workshops.

We are also developing a credit-bearing Information Studies program to be taught by Library faculty or in collaboration with other departmental faculty which would be accepted as transfer credits by programs at some of CUNY’s senior colleges. Our pedagogic philosophy about teaching Information Literacy is that we can and should utilize a wide variety of methods to teach these crucial skills. One-on-one, point-of-use instruction at the reference desk; the six interlocking open workshops students can take outside their regular courses; course-related research workshops; online tutorials, which are now available in Spanish as well as in English and other instructional support materials available at the HCC Library website; and the emerging opportunity to offer semester-long credit-bearing courses comprise the Hostos IL program.


Among pedagogical outcomes, integrating information literacy into disciplinary curricula supports the ongoing development of academic readiness skills; prepares students to navigate and survive the information revolution; provides another language-learning tool for students to improve vocabulary and language skills; and reinforces the development of cognitive skills such as critical thinking and reading, comparing and contrasting, evaluating and analyzing information resources. Hostos Library faculty also anticipate that by working with faculty in other departments to offer these courses, modules, and workshops, our collective projects will support college efforts to invigorate and revitalize Hostos curricula and move our institution into a leading position among community colleges with its vision of how students in the 21 st Century can and must be supported. Finally, our students benefit by gaining deeper knowledge through making connections across and beyond disciplines through the acquisition of core general education competencies that will prepare them for a wide variety of professions and improve their academic success. Other measurable outcomes include the inclusion of information literacy in the new Liberal Arts core curriculum, which is reflected in the college program documents and continued increases in enrollment in our classes and program.

Outcomes Assessment

As part of our assessment plan, the library is working on several projects that will allow us to assess student outcomes and information literacy. The first is underway and involves integrating information-based assignments into the Writing Intensive (WI) courses, then working with the faculty to assess student papers and work using rubrics. We have developed a rubric to assess the ACRL IL standards and competencies and are employing the use of a basic assessment grid based on the Nichols 5-column chart to track our progress. The second is a project with faculty members in the Allied Health department and two of their summer classes. We collaborated with the classroom faculty to plan two customized workshops with clearly articulated IL learning outcomes, team-taught the session, then applied a rubric on the final student projects and collected assessment data to determine if the students met the learning goals of the session. The rubric assessed the students’ understanding of how to analyze records in our periodicals databases and how to apply APA citation format. The results were encouraging, demonstrating that the students understood the lessons learned in the workshops. This is the process we now employ for most of the course-integrated session requests we receive from faculty and has become a part of our regular routine to insure that we are making the most of our instructional time and meeting the needs of the students and the classroom faculty.

The third means of assessing information literacy instruction is taking place this year, when we will be able for the first time to cross-tab our student workshop data with CPE scores and other testing data from Institutional Research. We have been collecting data from student evaluation forms for several years and are hoping to be able to determine if there is any statistically relevant connection between students who have taken at least two of our IL workshops and GPA, retention rates and test scores. This means of assessing student-learning outcomes is based on a model that has been very successful at a Glendale Community College in California. Working closely with the Office of Institutional Research, we designed an evaluation form that is distributed to students in all of our sessions and we collect data that allows us to track our students through their academic career.

In the past year, the Library Department continued to assess student learning outcomes with regard to information literacy. The Coordinator of Library Instruction is working on Hostos student learning outcomes assessment on several levels. She is a member of the College’s Middle States Periodic Review Subcommittee on Student Outcomes Assessment and in connection with that subcommittee she attended the recent Middle States workshop, “Assessing Student Learning in General Education.” As a member of the CUNY-wide Library Information Literacy Advisory Committee (LILAC), she is Chair of the Articulation subcommittee - tasked with investigating and facilitating coordination and articulation of information literacy programs between and among the community and four year CUNY campuses. This past year she received our professional association’s (LACUNY) Professional Development award to enable her to attend an all-day pre-conference workshop, “Assessment and Beyond: Starting It Off, Pulling It All Together and Making Decisions,” that was held at the end of June at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference.

II. Leadership in Developing and Implementing Exemplary Programs


The Hostos Library has taken a leadership role in developing a proactive grants program to support our vision and address college priorities and institutional retention and instructional goals. Our grants program addresses one of our primary objectives-- to create more culturally relevant materials for curricular integration to support retention efforts on campus. A review of the literature revealed that research conducted over the past 15-20 years on the retention of Hispanic students demonstrates that the integration of Hispanic perspectives, culture and history into the curriculum improves retention rates. 2 Thus, we developed programs to improve the teaching and learning experience by working closely with faculty to include more Hispanic perspectives into the classroom as a part of college initiatives to retain students.

Presented here are four of our grants initiatives that we believe are examples of exemplary programming in support of our college mission to provide the best learning support for our students and retain them.

1. Awarded $5,000 Diversity Grant from the CUNY Office of Diversity for a Bi-lingual Information Literacy Initiative

The primary objective with this project is to provide equal access to critical information technology tools to the Spanish dominant students in CUNY. We know that basic information literacy skills that are learned over time through practice and repetition are the very skills students need to pass the CUNY Proficiency Exam (CPE)—analytical reading and writing, and analyzing, integrating and using information from graphs, charts and corresponding texts. The goals and objectives of both the Information Competency and CPE programs are the same: to teach students how to think critically, compare and contrast, and evaluate and analyze information resources. If CUNY’s many Spanish-dominate ESL students can begin to learn these skills earlier in their own language, their ability to transfer the skills into English will be vastly improved. This project was based on the notion that Spanish-dominant students attending Hostos, and other CUNY colleges, must be afforded an equal opportunity to acquire these transferable skills if they are to participate as equal members of society and be competitive in the job market. A Spanish language version of our Web-based Information Competency Tutorial will serve CUNY’s Hispanic students in acquiring these essential transferable skills.

Spanish-dominant students, particularly those in the Bronx, face an uphill battle as entering CUNY students as they struggle to improve their language skills while also learning basic student survival and study skills. This online interactive tool is now available across CUNY and can be integrated into all disciplines. Access to a Spanish language version of this 24/7 interactive tutorial is a tremendous tool with potentially far-reaching benefits for CUNYs Hispanic population.


The primary outcome of the project is a Spanish language version of an interactive, online information literacy tutorial accessible to all CUNY students and faculty. A more important and desired benefit and potential outcome is more information literate students who have the ability to think critically and locate, evaluate and use information to become independent life-long learners. If they can do this, they can pass the CPE.

2. Awarded a $25,000 NEH Grant to build a seminal collection and digital archive of works by and about Eugenio María de Hostos

In 2003 the Library applied for and was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Extending the Reach grant to develop a seminal collection of works by and about Hostos and develop a digital archive of resources for research. The digital archive allows the College to disseminate information in Spanish and English on Hostos’s life and work to a broad public. With this project, the library fosters collaborative endeavors among faculty to develop and infuse its curriculum with courses that integrate Hostos’s thinking and writings in various disciplines, and promote more culturally relevant curricular offerings for our students. The library also sponsored academic programming that strengthens and supports our role as a research institution on the life and works of Hostos and Caribbean political thought and ideas. For example, the library organized and offered "Teaching Hostos at Hostos," a three-day interdisciplinary faculty retreat that was part of our NEH recent Extending the Reach grant that enabled professors to develop curricular modules on integrating Hostos into the curriculum for a wide range of college courses.

The focus of this project was to build a seminal collection of works by and about Hostos at Eugenio María de Hostos Community College in order to advance the study of humanities through expanded curricular offerings, symposia, community lectures and exhibitions based on the collection. While there are many scholarly resources for research available in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, there is very little here in the United States. With this project, the library claimed our role in recovering our legacy by developing the richest and most extensive collection of materials by and about Hostos in the United States. We expect the collection to become, in a few years, one of the best library collections on this author in the continental United States. Given the multi-disciplinary nature of Hostos’ life work, these materials can be used across disciplines to support research and curricular initiatives in the arts, history, sociology, education, philosophy, law and Latin American and Caribbean studies.


Measurable outcomes include increased holdings, a digital collection, and new course offerings in the Humanities, English, Language and Cognition, and English departments. Copies of syllabi, Web pages, and records of new holdings are publicly available as concrete measurable outcomes of this effort to promote the life and work of this extraordinary man and advance the study of the Humanities in a variety of disciplines. Specific outcomes included:

  • multi-disciplinary curriculum infusion of Hostos content in college courses
  • ongoing acquisition of the writings of Hostos as well as Martí and other Latino writers and thinkers in both Spanish and English
  • digitization of Hostos’s manuscripts and other historical source documents
  • development of a comprehensive public website in English and Spanish dedicated to Hostos’ biography and writings

3. Awarded three Documentary Heritage Grants from NY State Archives ($9,400; $24,500; and $18,900) for documentation and preservation project for College Archives

The goal of this project is to identify, survey and plan for the systematic collection of records that document the first decade of Hostos Community College and illustrate the decisive battles it survived—including funding struggles and ethnic conflicts—to become a vital and active contributor to the South Bronx and New York City. This project strives to preserve the institutional memory of the college and provide an accessible collection of primary source material for curricular use. It involves the documentation of archival records relating to Hostos Community College; arrangement and description of documents already gathered, and the design of a survey instrument for the eventual collection of valuable Latino and black records from the larger South Bronx community. This project is a priority because one-of-kind records documenting the history of this controversial bilingual CUNY College are in imminent danger of being lost due to faculty retirements and personnel changes in support staff. It was our intention with this project to bring to light not only a missing chapter in the history of the college, but to present a liberating legacy of Latino and black heritage to the South Bronx by carefully documenting the history of the college and the surrounding community.


These records are integral to the mission and collecting policies of the Hostos Community College Archives. They reflect the history and administration of the college since its inception in 1968. Informational content has yielded valuable documentation about the beginning of the college and its history, the political controversies surrounding its continued existence and its unique bilingual mission that continues to be a hot-button political issue up-to-the-moment. Consequently these records and biographical information on their creators will be quite important to any researcher documenting the history of bilingual education, advancement of Latino and black people existing in poor and underserved neighborhoods, and the continued population growth of Spanish-dominant populations in New York City. Moreover, as we move into year 3 when we survey the community organizations and begin to document their history and contributions to the South Bronx, we will become one of the only archival repositories in the South Bronx area able to serve the public. One very concrete outcome of this project includes the work of Thomas Lopez, an undergraduate at Duke University who is finishing his history thesis entitled "An American Necessity: The Politics of Survival at Hostos Community College, New York, 1970-1978." His honor’s thesis was subsequently awarded highest honors and earned the prize for best honor’s thesis (out of 20 submitted) in the Duke History Department for 2006. It was recently catalogued into the Hostos Library and Archives Collection.

4. Awarded $126,000 NEH Grant to present a NEH Summer Seminar on Hostos and Marti in New York with faculty colleague in Humanities Dept

In the summer of 2005, faculty in the library department, in collaboration with faculty in the Humanities department, were awarded an NEH Summer Seminar Grant to offer a humanities seminar. The seminar examined the role of New York City as a crucible in shaping Latin American and Caribbean political thought and history, as seen through the lives and writings of Puerto Rico’s renowned philosopher and educator, Eugenio María de Hostos (1839-1903) and Cuba’s martyred patriot, José Martí (1853-1895). Both men lived and worked as writers, journalists, and political activists in New York City, locus of a burgeoning community of Caribbean immigrants and political activists. They also spent considerable time exploring many facets of American life and values, while living in New York City—its educational system, industrial growth, labor movement, literary scene. This seminar, entitled, “Visions of Freedom for the Americas: Eugenio María de Hostos and José Martí in 19th Century New York” focused on New York City’s little known and important role in Latino and Caribbean political activism in the late 19 th century.

As a result of the 2002 NEH grant project to build a seminal collection of works by and about Hostos, the Library has an extensive collection of works on Hostos and Martí, including a digital archive of primary source material, photographs and original manuscripts and documents by Hostos. The Obras Completas of both Martí and Hostos were available for seminar participants as well as a seminal collection of dissertations and monographs. The Hostos Library served as a resource center throughout the seminar, providing participants with access to over 40 online databases and electronic resources, including numerous Spanish language databases for background research, and copies of all texts required for the program of study. The month-long seminar was co-taught by the Chief Librarian and a professor in the Humanities department. The rich resources for research of New York City’s finest institutions were used as an integral part of this program of study with walking tours, field trips, and research excursions to the best of the City of New York’s Library and research centers.


Our NEH Summer Seminar offered during summer 2005 provided 15 college faculty participants across the country with a rich and unique opportunity to study and do research on the history of New York City and Caribbean political thought and history through the lens of Hostos and Marti. The ultimate goal of all NEH seminars is to transform undergraduate education, so it is our hope, based on positive evaluations from both the NEH and the participants, that the faculty used the experience to inform and transform their own classrooms. The four-week seminar for 15 college faculty was designed to accomplish the following objectives: (1) provide unique opportunities for research on the role of New York City in Caribbean political movements between 1865-1898; and (2) provide college faculty with new material for multi-disciplinary curriculum infusion on Puerto Rican and Cuban cultural and literary heritage. It was also the first time the NEH had awarded a Summer Seminar grant to a community college to offer a research seminar for college and university faculty.

III. Substantial and Productive Relationships with Classroom Faculty and Students

The final activity area that we present for consideration as meeting the criteria of excellence in academic librarianship is our collaborative relationships with classroom faculty and students. We present two initiatives below that demonstrate our commitment to substantive relationships with students and faculty—the publication of a student literary journal and a series of Poetry Slams and library faculty participation in curricular design and revitalization on campus.

Student Literary Journal and Writing Projects

The Hostos Library department strives to support the college's academic programs, student retention efforts and outreach to our community in its role as a center for research and learning. However, the Library faculty goes further, by creating innovative extracurricular programs and activities that provide more ways for our college and high school students to apply what they are learning and gain extra facility in writing, public performance, and developing their artistic talents and self-confidence.

One of these extracurricular programs is the Library's sponsorship of a series of open mics and poetry slams (competitive original spoken word performances). These poetry slam competitions began in the Fall of 2002, complete with MC and prizes; both our college and high school students flocked to participate as performers and audiences. We have organized ten of these slams so far and the winners and runners-up have also seen their poems published in another Library initiative: our bilingual student literary and art magazine, ¡Escriba! /Write!

We initiated this magazine in Spring 2003 and it is published annually. From the start, our goals for the magazine have included participation in the editorial and publication process for students who are attracted to or curious about the publication process. We began the magazine primarily as a way to publicize students' winning poetry and winning entries in Hostos' essay contests for Women's History Month and Black History Month. However, beginning with our second issue in 2003, we greatly expanded our journal’s diversity by reaching out to classroom faculty to send us student work, and to our art and photography students to submit their work. We encourage students to submit work in Spanish and other languages as well as in English. The result is that ¡Escriba! /Write! is an elegant and exciting student publication. In fact, in 2006 we entered it into the annual Student Literary Magazine competition sponsored by the Community College Humanities Association (CCHA) and our publication won the Eastern Region Small College Award. In addition, one of our student's contributions won the Best Student Essay Award. Besides the honor of these awards, we are pleased that it will be an additional way we can recruit more students to be co-editors and contributors to the magazine.

Curricular Innovation and Collaboration with Faculty

In 1991, Hostos received a Title III grant from the U.S Department of Education, which paved the way for college-wide instructional technology investments. Since then the College has continued to develop the capacity to implement innovative instructional technology initiatives. Both the faculty and the administration are committed to and invested in the potential for information and instructional technology to transform higher education in our college. It is in this context that the library has been able to position itself to take a leading role in the development and implementation of information and technology services in support of curricular goals. In 2003 the Chief Librarian was appointed to the Title V grant development team and worked with an extraordinary group of colleagues on a $2.5 million dollar Title V grant proposal for our college, which we were awarded in 2004/05. This 5-year project has three major components—institutional technology development, faculty development and student enrichment. In the fall of 2005 the Chief Librarian was appointed to co-chair the Title V Faculty Development initiative. This team is charged with innovations in faculty leadership and curricular revitalization.

A major component of our Title V grant initiative, Shifting the Paradigm on Teaching and Learning to Improve Student Success, the Hostos Faculty Development Seminar program was conceived to challenge faculty to participate in a competitive, incentive-based initiative designed to generate faculty-driven innovations in curricular design and pedagogy. The goal is increased faculty engagement to improve student learning outcomes and opportunities through curricular change. The new series challenges faculty to compete for a spot in a seminar series designed to support their ideas for curriculum innovations to be implemented on campus. Faculty with the most innovative ideas are selected for Innovation Awards and are supported by college administration to implement their new course, program, plan or pedagogical approach to teaching and learning. Out of over 50 faculty participating and only seven projects selected for awards and implementation, three of them were library faculty projects, each in collaboration with classroom faculty in other academic departments. A brief description of each project is presented here as evidence of our substantial and productive relationships the library has with classroom faculty.

Hidden Assets: Information Literacy Across the Curriculum
Prof Miriam Laskin, Library Dept & Prof Robert Cohen, Language and Cognition Dept

“Information, Culture & Society: A Critical Introduction to the Information Age” is the working title of a flexible, credit-bearing interdisciplinary course that will provide students with general education competencies including information literacy and technology, critical thinking, computer literacy, reading, writing and oral communication. The course will be cross-listed with other departmental electives and thus will provide a foundation course for more options for Liberal Arts students in such areas as journalism, information studies, educational technology, public administration, communications and computer science. Similar courses at other CUNY institutions are cross-listed in the English, Public Affairs and Communications departments. The flexibility we have in mind could mean that the course might be taught or co-taught by Library and disciplinary faculty in English, Natural Sciences, Humanities, or the Social and Behavioral Sciences. It could offer linked assignments with other courses; it could be offered as an asynchronous Blackboard course, as a discipline-specific module, or as a foundational course in the Liberal Arts clusters. It would also be an excellent fit for CUNY’s new Online Baccalaureate program in the Information Literacy proficiency subject area and be another Hostos course offering.

Information Literacy is, in fact, a true hidden asset. It facilitates and supports the acquisition of disciplinary knowledge and strengthens critical thinking and reading, evaluation, analysis and use of information to produce new knowledge. Although Library faculty have been teaching IL in open and course-integrated workshops, we believe the addition of innovative, interdisciplinary credit-bearing Information Studies (IS) courses, as offered at many of our sister CUNY institutions, will lead to a more thorough integration of critical General Education competencies into the curriculum and to increased student success. This project calls for the development of a foundation or a capstone IS course that can be cross-listed with other departmental electives, team taught, provide more Options for Liberal Arts students, and support the development of the cognitive abilities students need to pass the CPE.

History of Latin America II: a Dual-language, Online Class
Prof Elisabeth Tappeiner, Library Dept & Prof Jairo Taylor, Humanities Dept

Throughout its history Hostos Community College has been committed to providing an excellent education to its significant population of native Spanish-speaking students. Today, Hostos is a CUNY-wide leader in providing support for Spanish-speaking students as they make the transition from ESL to English content courses and as they prepare for the CPE exams. In this project, we seek to strengthen this role by developing a dual-language, online learning environment that supports Spanish-speaking students transitioning to English-only content courses. History of Latin America II Online will be an asynchronous (online only) class that will use online resources in English and Spanish to promote an understanding of the history of Latin America, and build critical thinking and information literacy skills. Open to both Spanish-speaking and English-dominant students, this course will offer students the choice of completing readings and assignments in either Spanish or English. Spanish-speaking students will be encouraged to write and discuss in English. In turn, English-dominant students will be encouraged to work in Spanish or partner with a Spanish-speaking student as they work in English. The class will be evaluated through student feedback and an assessment of student performance in coursework and on CPE exams. It will draw upon Hostos’s many rich institutional resources: a stellar Language and Cognition faculty, experts in teaching and assessing ESL students, excellent Instructional Technology support, and first-class online Library resources. This project is the result of the fruitful collaboration between a Humanities scholar and a Librarian, both of whom are committed to instilling a deep and informed appreciation of Latin American history and culture to Hostos’s students. Through History of Latin America II, we seek to create an online forum for intellectual discovery and exchange between Spanish and English-dominant students that will promote academic excellence and build mutual understanding and respect.

Grand Concourse One Hundred
Prof William Casari, Library Dept & Prof Felix Cardona, Social and Behavioral Sciences Dept

Grand Concourse One Hundred celebrates one of the great streets of New York City while presenting a more complete story of its impact on the Bronx and giving voice to the people who were not free to walk its sidewalks. Using the centenary of the Grand Concourse in 2009 as the catalyst, students in this seminar will explore issues of class, race, identity, exclusion and urban planning to unearth and present a well-rounded story of a particular neighborhood or city planning issue like the new Yankee Stadium project. Students will better understand the great forces—market, political and otherwise—that come together to form great neighborhoods and urban areas. Using primary source materials, field observations, class lectures and oral history interviews students will explore how urban history, geography, economics, sociology and other social science disciplines help us understand cities and their neighborhoods. How have cities and the Grand Concourse neighborhoods in particular responded to immigration, poverty, fiscal crisis, race, class and other political and social issues? What might alternative urban futures be? Students can complete multi-media projects or traditional research papers in which student learning outcomes may include a stronger sense of identity and sense of inclusion in a particular neighborhood. Retention rates may be bolstered when assignments are more culturally relevant and connected to an urban place. Evaluation of the project will be based on student response surveys and review of learning objectives; effectiveness of sponsored field activities and a review of student projects. Students will be graded on a combination of presentations, field work and a final project. Multi-media projects and written presentations will be displayed and/or promoted at Hostos and through collaboration with partner institutions like the Bronx Museum and possible corporate sponsorships. The 2009 birthday of the Concourse will be celebrated with a sharp academic insight and more complete images and stories of a beautiful street, its transitions, people and neighborhoods.

Closing Remarks

As a transitional bilingual college in the South Bronx, we accept the most under-prepared students in the city of New York in the poorest congressional district in the United States and provide them with access to higher education. The challenge is enormous. The Hostos Library Department prides itself on being an integral part of the life of the college and strives to support our college mission and our students with every activity and program we do. Over the last several years we have had two library retreats to address program planning, organizational culture and strategic planning. We completed our first 3-year strategic plan this past summer and are currently in year one. We just hired a new Information Technology librarian who has exceptional Web development skills and will be rolling out a new more user-friendly, accessible Web page in by the end of December. In this fiscal year the library received funding to move to an Information Commons model of reference and information technology support services and is in the middle of designing the new space, developing an implementation plan for a Fall 2007 start date. Given the accomplishments we have had and our strategic approach to planning and program development, we believe we have met all of the necessary criteria to demonstrate how we have worked together as a team with each other, our colleagues in other departments, the students and college administration to further the educational mission of our institution.

Strategic Objectives

From the Hostos Library Department Strategic Plan 2006-2009

Collection Development
GOAL: To develop an outstanding collection in all formats that engages the Hostos community and meets their curricular and informational needs. This effort must be supported by a flexible, proactive, interactive collection development structure that is informed by library faculty and the Hostos community. The collection should reflect the uniqueness and diversity of the Hostos community and current best professional practices.

Technology Development
GOAL: To establish the library as the place for innovation and new technology by being proactive in defining technology within the library landscape and all of its components. We aim to inform and educate the Hostos community as to our expertise and experience in technology and increase our involvement in technology decision-making on campus.

Organizational Culture
GOAL: To create new forums for and methods of communication that will improve interpersonal relationships and the working atmosphere for all. These efforts will foster collaboration and bi-directional conversation.

Faculty Development
GOAL: To establish innovative, proactive faculty partnerships, promote better communication between Library and other disciplinary faculty and foster a better understanding of Library faculty’s professional contributions to the life of the College.

Instructional Development
GOAL: To offer a cohesive, targeted instructional program that integrates information literacy into disciplinary curricula that supports the development of General Education competencies (critical thinking, academic readiness skills) and is aligned with the mission of the College. This program will be informed by a variety of dynamic instructional offerings and pedagogical perspectives.

1Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Developing Research & Communication Skills: Guidelines for Information Literacy in the Curriculum, p. 5. MSCHE (Philadelphia:PA: 2003).

2Hernandez, J. C. (2000). Understanding the retention of Latino college students. Journal of College Student Development, 41(6), 575-588; Zamani, E. M. (2000). Sources and Information Regarding Effective Retention Strategies for Students of Color. New Directions for Community Colleges. 10p.



FT Instructional Faculty 155
FT Enrollment 2747
PT Enrollment 1720


Library Faculty 8
Administrative Support Staff (FT) 6
Support Staff (PT) 6
Student aides 10-15


Number of Volumes 64,000
Volumes Added 1,900
Current Serial Titles 410
Online Databases & Services 78






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[As of January 2003 the new ALEPH System allowed Reserve Transactions to include book loans, renewals, holds/recalls and returns]


Sample Web Pages:

Hostos Digital Collection
NEH Summer Seminar
Bi-lingual Information Literacy Tutorial
¡Escriba! /Write! Student Literary Journal