Reflecting Forward: The Digital Underground Series

by Brittany Bertazon, Graduate Assistant for Digital Library Program

In the spring of 2020 I began interviewing library employees to understand their role in SU Libraries’ Digital Library Program as part of my ‘work-from-home’ quarantine project. While doing that, I discovered numerous stories and insights to be shared with the broader University community.  This blog series will shed a light on the libraries’ digital initiatives and those who bring it to fruition at SU. This series is about reflecting forward, visualizing our past in the context of our future as a library and community.

No this is not a fan blog devoted to a legendary alternative hip-hop group. The Digital Underground Series will unearth the labor involved with providing the Digital Library Program (DLP).

Last year’s quarantine was both an abrupt halt and an unsolicited shove. I was working as a graduate assistant for the DLP briefly before the lockdown and all pre-planned projects were ‘paused.’ Like everyone else, I quickly pivoted to an alternate and virtual orientation. At the recommendation of my supervisor and the Libraries’ director of administration, I began interviewing library staff affiliated with the DLP to understand the connectedness of their work.

So, what is a Digital Library Program?

I’ve come to think of the DLP as an invisible, neutral mothership that gently guides a variety of digital projects and agendas at SU Libraries toward realization. Formed in 2017, the DLP’s most basic objective is to coordinate digital stewardship and digital scholarship efforts throughout the Libraries.

diagram of house with Digital Library Program as roof and Digital Scholarship and Digital Stewardship as two pillars

At the most rudimentary level, digital stewardship encompasses all activities related to the local creation, care, and management of digital objects and collections. Digital scholarship focuses on public engagement and use of those materials to achieve scholarly and research goals.

The DLP is made up of a core team from various departments. They cultivate internal partnerships to fulfill these two objectives. But don’t assume the directness of these objectives makes them easy to achieve.

computer screen of hands adjusting image

Responsibilities of digital stewardship in the DLP can take the form of project planning, managing repository infrastructure, ensuring accessible platforms and content, digital production (such as image scanning or digital reformatting of audio visual resources), resource description, digital preservation of materials in a variety of formats, rights and permissions management, website development, or assessment of projects and programs.

Digital scholarship might include outreach and activities around teaching and research, as well as open access opportunities, scholarly reuse of materials, methodological support, and user experience in accessing materials.

The Latin American 45s Digital Collection is an example of both digital stewardship and digital scholarship. To digitize materials and create a searchable repository for scholars, the commercial recordings from the 1950s and 1960s required an audio preservation engineer, two project coordinators, two cataloguers, a metadata specialist, a graphic designer, a website/application designer, an accessibility liaison, and the assistance of NINE students and interns! This ‘invisible’ digital labor that happens behind the scenes is a common theme in the information field and librarianship.

Not all digital work performed at SU Libraries’ is currently on display. The Libraries is embarking on an intensive digital initiative as it adopts a new digital asset management platform. The platform, Quartex, is designed by a global library publishing company called Adam Matthew Digital. Adopting this new platform will require an immense migration of digital objects and collections into a new system. The benefit is that researchers and scholars will be able to search, find, and access SU Libraries’ digital collections with greater ease, precision, accessibility, and equity once the platform is implemented. 

The irony of digital work in academic librarianship is that the most necessary work is usually the least discussed or publicly shared. In this digital age and especially during a pandemic, the important labor of librarians and information professionals is at risk of being erased because it may not be obvious. By revisiting some of the stories and insights I discovered and sharing them with you throughout this semester, I look forward to shining a spotlight on the digital underground and how we can collectively use the DLP to reflect forward.

Brittany Bertazon, Library and Information Science graduate student and assistant of the Digital Library Program, will author the series.

“Bento-box” Focus Group

screenshot of NCSU Libraries search interface
NCSU Libraries’ bento-style search interface

What is a focus group?

A focus group is a research technique used to collect data through group interaction – basically, it is a conversation! The group comprises a small number of carefully selected people who discuss a given topic, which will be led by a moderator.

What is a “bento-box” search?

Named after the popular Japanese container of assorted foods, a “bento-box” search returns side-by-side results from multiple library search tools, such as the Library Catalog, database index, LibGuides, institutional repository, and more. Both Duke University Libraries and Cornell University Libraries use bento-box styled searching, among many other academic and public libraries.

How do I participate?

Participants will provide feedback by answering the moderator’s questions and sharing thoughts on the topic. There are no right or wrong answers, and this is not a test of participants’ knowledge or expertise.

How long is a session? 

60-75 minutes.

When and where?

Dates and times TBD. The study will be held over Zoom.

Interested in participating? 

Please fill out the form below, and Natalie will follow up with more information.


Ask away! Feel free to send questions to Natalie LoRusso (, Laura Benjamin (, Karen Carnessali (, or Juan Denzer (

Film and Media Roundtable Announces 2021 Notable Films for Adults

black and white movie clapper with production, scene and date
Movie clapper icon by Shmector is licensed under CC BY 2.0

by Michael Pasqualoni, Librarian for Newhouse School of Public Communications

SU faculty and students are invited to explore this list of notable documentary films honored by American Library Association’s Film & Media Roundtable (FMRT).  Most of the titles are immediately available to current SU NETID holders within SU Libraries online streaming video databases

The Notable Films for Adults Committee selected 12 outstanding titles from among 46 nominees for this year’s list of Notable Videos for Adults. The availability of closed captions (CC) and/or subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing (SDH) is preferred.

Beyond the Bolex (2018, dir. Alyssa Bolsey) 94 minutes. Collective Eye Films. DVD. Available from Collective Eye Films. CC. Jewish immigrant Jacques Bolsey invented the Bolex (the first home movie camera) in the 1920s. Nearly a century later, his great-granddaughter, director Alyssa Bolsey speaks with camera collectors, historians and filmmakers who explain how Jacques inspired new generations of filmmakers.

Buddy (2018, dir. Heddy Honigmann) 86 minutes. Grasshopper Films. DVD. Available from various distributors. Dutch with English subtitles. Director Heddy Honigmann takes a poignant look at the power of six service dogs and how these animals make an impact on the lives of their owners.  Available at SU via Kanopy

Creem: America’s Only Rock N Roll Magazine (2020, dir. Scott Crawford) 75 minutes. Greenwich Entertainment. DVD. Available from various distributors. CC, SDH. Traces one of America’s iconic rock music magazines from its origin as an underground newspaper in Detroit though its rise to national prominence.  A portrait of the publisher, editors, musicians, and fans that made it happen, their long ambition, and sometimes short lives. Available at SU via Kanopy

For Sama (2019, dir. Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts) 100 minutes. Frontline (PBS). DVD. Available from various distributors. Arabic with English subtitles, SDH. Filmmaker Waad Al-Kateab’s personal account of how she met her husband and the birth of her daughter, for whom the film is named. Created from harrowing footage during the war in Aleppo, Syria.  Nominated for an Academy Award in 2020 Available at SU via Academic Video Online

Feels Good Man (2020, dir. Arthur Jones) 92 minutes. Video Project. DVD. Available from Video Project. CC. Artist Matt Furie struggles to reclaim his creation, Pepe the Frog (now an Internet meme), which members of the alt-right have appropriated for their own odious purposes.

Float (2020, dir. Phil Kibbe) 81 minutes. Grasshopper Films. DVD. Available from Grasshopper Films. CC. The F1D is a class of delicate, slow-flying, long-duration, rubber- powered model aircraft designed to be flown in a large indoor space. Those who build and fly these model aircraft are an increasing rarity. A glimpse into a little-known and ethereal sport. Available at SU via Academic Video Online

Grit (2018, dir. Sasha Friedlander and Cynthia Wade) 81 minutes. Torch Films. DVD. Available from Torch Films. Indonesian with English subtitles. In 2006, six-year-old Dian and her mother survived a tsunami of mud caused by a natural gas drilling company’s mistakes, leaving 60,000 people displaced. Given no compensation over ten years, Dian transforms into an activist ready to lead her community in the fight for justice.

Honeyland (2019, dir. Tamara & Ljubomir Stefanov) 87 minutes. Neon Films. DVD. Available from various distributors. Turkish with English subtitles. CC. One of the last beekeepers in Macedonia uses ancient traditions to cultivate honey to eke out a meager existence for herself and her ailing mother. The new neighbors, a large, loud family, attempt commercial beekeeping, disrupting her life and the delicate bee ecosystem despite her warnings. Nominated for an Academy Award in 2020.

John Lewis: Good Trouble (2020, dir. Dawn Porter) 96 minutes. Magnolia Home Entertainment. DVD.  Available from various distributors.  CC. Tells the story of John Lewis, the late U.S. Congressman from Georgia, covering six decades of his activism inside and outside of elected office.  Conviction, kindness, and courage are hallmarks of his many contributions toward civil rights and social justice in the United States. Available at SU via Academic Video Online

N. Scott Momaday: Words From A Bear (2019, dir. Jeffrey Palmer) 83 minutes. American Masters (PBS). DVD. Available from various distributors. CC.  Pulitzer Prize-winner N.Scott Momaday’s poetry and writings have led to the renaissance of Native American literature. The film examines his life and uniquely captures the essence of Momaday’s work. Available at SU via Academic Video Online

Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project (2019, dir. Matt Wolf) 87 minutes. Zeitgeist Films. DVD & Blu-Ray. Available from various distributors. English with English subtitles. CC. Follows the quest of librarian and activist Marion Stokes to protect the truth by obsessively recording and archiving television broadcasts 24 hours a day from 1979 to 2012 in her Philadelphia home. Available at SU via Kanopy

Who Will Write Our History (2018, dir. Roberta Grossman) 95 minutes. Good Docs. DVD.  Available from Good Docs. CC.  In 1940, a secret group of Jewish journalists, scholars, and community leaders in the Warsaw Ghetto vowed to defeat the Nazi propaganda by documenting and collecting accounts from everyday life and burying the archive for future discovery.

Contact Michael Pasqualoni at or the subject librarian for your area of study if you would like to pursue access to any specific film on the list that does not indicate  “available at SU.”  Our Syracuse University community is also encouraged to nominate a film you have viewed for future consideration, by visiting FMRT’s homepage. See that site for nomination criteria, a suggestion form to nominate titles, and lists of films honored over the years.

The Notable Videos for Adults Committee members are:
Tiffany Hudson, Salt Lake City Public Library, Utah
Barbara Carlson, Hewlett-Woodmere Public Library, New York
Kate Jones, State University of New York at Oswego, New York
Brenda Kinzinger, Baltimore County Public Library, Maryland
Bryan McGeary, Penn State University, Pennsylvania
Molly Mooney, Columbia Basin College, Washington
Michael Pasqualoni, Syracuse University Libraries, New York
Melanie Zaskey, Southeast Florida Library Information Network, Florida
Michele Zwierski, Nassau Library System, New York

Black History Month Resources

Although not comprehensive, highlights from our collections in celebration of Black History Month include:

African American Studies Research Guide

African American Communities 

Pamphlets, newspapers, periodicals, correspondence, official records, reports, and in-depth oral histories covering the experiences of African Americans. Focuses on themes of racism, discrimination and integration, and African American culture and identity primarily in the communities of Atlanta, Chicago, Brooklyn New York, and towns and cities in North Carolina from 1863-1986.

African American Archives

Military documents, letters, court records, and more from the 17th -20th centuries pertaining to African Americans.

African American Newspapers : the 19th Century

African American newspapers published during the 1800s; includes full page image content.

African American Newspapers Series I & II 

African American newspapers published in the United States between 1827 and 1998.

Black Thought and Culture : African Americans to 1975 

Primary and secondary non-fiction writings, speeches, interviews, trials and other materials by black Americans.

Black Studies Center 

Scholarly essays, articles, historical newspaper articles, related to Black Studies, from fields such as literature, political science, sociology, philosophy, and religion.

Liberator, 1831-1865 

Searchable full-text version of The Liberator, an antebellum, anti-slavery newspaper published in chronological parts. Published in Boston, Massachusetts, by William Lloyd Garrison.

Race Relations in America 

Based at Fisk University from 1943-1970, the Race Relations Department and its annual Institute were set up by the American Missionary Association to investigate problem areas in race relations and develop methods for educating communities and preventing conflict. Documenting three pivotal decades in the fight for civil rights, this resource showcases the speeches, reports, surveys and analyses produced by the Department’s staff and Institute participants, including Charles S. Johnson, Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., and Thurgood Marshall.

Independent Voices 

Open access alternative press and underground newspapers, magazines and journals from the 1960s to 1980s, including feminist, LGBT, minority, campus, community, GI, right-wing, and small literary presses.

Research Starting Points

by Abby Kasowitz-Scheer, Librarian in Learning and Academic Engagement

The Syracuse Universities Libraries website is a rich gateway to information resources that can support your research needs. Students, faculty, and staff have access to a wide variety of articles, e-books, videos, data, and other resources that are not freely available online. However, it can be overwhelming to try to navigate the Libraries website to find exactly what you need for a particular project or research question.

The Libraries are offering the workshop, “Research Starting Points @ SU Libraries”, during Spring 2021. This session introduces participants to key research tools including Summon, the databases and research guides and provides some basic searching tips. This same workshop was offered multiple times in Fall 2020 to undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of schools and colleges.

The workshop includes a general introduction to Syracuse University Libraries’ services and spaces, followed by an overview of the Libraries website and live search demonstrations. Presenters show participants how to use the Summon search tool to find books, articles, and other items and how to refine a search to yield more targeted results. The interdisciplinary database, ProQuest, is also introduced as a tool for finding scholarly and popular sources on a variety of topics.

The specific sources highlighted, including research guides and subject databases, are geared toward participants’ areas of study as indicated on the registration form. For instance, last semester, presenters demonstrated a search in the ERIC database when participants joined from the School of Education, and they showed the Music and Entertainment Industry Research Guide when a student attended from the Bandier Program at the Newhouse School of Public Communications.

The workshop provides plenty of opportunities for participants to ask questions, and participants are reminded to contact the Libraries using any of our multiple options (phone, text, chat, etc.) with future questions about the Libraries or the research process.

“Research Starting Points @ SU Libraries” is for everyone from new students to those who need a refresher to those who haven’t yet had the opportunity to explore the Libraries’ resources. To learn more about this and other Libraries workshops, see Learn @ SUL.

Now on Blackboard

We’re excited to announce a new feature designed to support students’ academic success by integrating Syracuse University Libraries directly in the Blackboard learning management system. Faculty and instructors teaching Blackboard-based courses this spring can now easily and quickly add a link to the course menu that will connect students directly  to a research guide highlighting SU Libraries’ most helpful and widely used resources, including interlibrary loan, database search strategies, citation guidance, and contact information for 24-hour and subject-specific library support.

This simple process should take only a minute. We have created a short video and documentation (pdf) offering step-by-step guidance. Once added to a course menu, the Library Resources button should look similar to this:

The next phase of this project in collaboration with Information Technology Services (ITS), to be launched by fall, will have two additional features: 1) the Library Resources button should automatically appear in each Blackboard course, eliminating the need for faculty to manually add it, and 2) the Library Resources button can direct students to a more specialized research guide that will be most helpful in that particular course. For example, students enrolled in an architecture course could be directed to the architecture research guide.

Librarians from three different SU Libraries departments—Information Literacy Librarian Kelly Delevan, Web Accessibility and Emerging Technology Librarian Holli Kubly, and Online Learning Librarian John Stawarz—have led the collaboration on this initiative. If you have any questions about adding the Library Resources link to your course or about how SU Libraries could support your students’ academic success, please reach out to Kelly Delevan ( for more information.