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Dean's Update: 'Tis the Season

December 3, 2020

Typically starting with Thanksgiving and continuing through the New Year, many of us embrace various traditions of sharing our gratitude, wishing others the best, and promising ourselves to improve in the coming year. Our traditions make it easy to highlight being thankful, caring and optimistic human beings.  


This year’s numerous disruptions require us to change our habits of celebrating our humanity, but also to present different venues to see it expressed.    


In this issue of In Circulation, we share a few ways in which the Libraries has facilitated unexpected opportunities this past month for embracing and enacting these values.  


Since the spring, the widespread shutdown of the University and the City of Philadelphia due to COVID-19 has forced numerous business partners to freeze or rescind internships, challenging many Drexel students to land a co-op experience where they can put to practice their education and experience being a professional for six months in their chosen field. This fall, the Libraries was again proud to participate in Drexel’s renowned co-op program by hiring its second co-op student to extend our professional staff capacity in communications and events planning. This newest staff member shares her initial reflections of navigating this virtual co-op experience and kindly reminds us of gratitude held for the Libraries support of Drexel student learning experiences. 


Intentionally designed physical spaces are central to gathering people any time of the year, but especially during the holiday season. The University is taking many precautionary efforts to ensure the well-being of Drexel Dragons both on- and off-campus during this soaring pandemic. The Libraries in an unexpected way was able to contribute when its Learning Terrace—designed for flexibility—quickly was redesigned as a temporary COVID-19 testing center. Read why this contribution reflects Drexel’s optimism and caring for the well-being of others.   


The pandemic also disrupts our quarterly tradition of bringing together faculty and professional staff from across disciplines and departments to expand our shared appreciation of interdisciplinary research. In June, In Circulation readers learned about the Libraries’ move of our spring ScholarSip event to a Zoom session and the resulting community-building that expanded across geographic boundaries and relationships to Drexel. The 2020/2021 event series will continue remotely via Zoom and will explore the theme of Responding to COVID-19 through Research and Scientific Problem-Solving 


Read the invitation in this issue to participate in the season’s launch, during which a Drexel researcher will help us understand how the disease has amplified societal inequities. I am anticipating that the session will sensitize our shared values to believe in science for optimism that we can improve ourselves in caring for others’ wellbeing and to actstarting with making small promises to ourselves—to envision and create communities without racial hierarchies.  


As we prepare this final 2020 issue of In Circulation, we also are planning how to continue the annual end-of-year celebrations of our Libraries staff community, but without the tradition of getting together over lunch, having conversations among colleagues, and enjoying group activities for a few hours. We will likely gather through Zoom and its break-out rooms to celebrate staff who will not have the traditional service recognition luncheon to celebrate important milestones in their careers at Drexel, and to share ideas for how we individually are changing the holiday traditions to stay safe and care for others. It may be simpler, and it will certainly be different than years past, but the celebration this month of our shared humanity and its contribution in our work and life at Drexel Libraries, is important to value and continues the traditional spirit of the season.  


Best wishes for your celebration of the seasons and for staying safe and healthy in the New Year.      


Danuta A. Nitecki, PhD 

Dean of Libraries