Thinking it would be more relevant and rewarding to delve deeper into academic libraries as I am currently working in one of them, it was not a hard choice for me when I looked at the provided list of hyperlinked environments. It was a pleasant surprise to see that my own working place, NYU Shanghai, was addressed in one of the readings. It definitely helped me make the decision to share my own perspective when it comes to librarianship in global universities as so much of the content resonates with me.
As a joint venture of New York University and East China Normal University, NYU Shanghai is unique in its identity. On the one hand, it adopts the education system from NYU and offers almost the same services and resources to provide seamless experience for faculty and students in their teaching and learning activities. On the other hand, it distinguishes itself from other American universities by its Chinese characters – the campus is based in Shanghai and has to be localized to meet different needs of its diverse community.
One of the things that caught my attention in Kenny and Li’s article is “engaging international students directly” (2016). At NYU Shanghai, 49% percent of the student body are international students. They come from different countries with different cultural backgrounds, but when they start the four-year journey in China, one thing they all need to learn is Chinese. At our library, it is not uncommon to see an international student approach the circulation desk with their Chinese textbook/workbook and ask a staff member to check their assignment or teach them pronunciation. Sometimes, students will reach us, handing out their cell phone, and ask us to talk to the person on the phone (usually a delivery guy or a taxi driver) and help address some common communication issues. Very often, to make things easier, we also teach students to use WeChat or Alipay to pay for their library fines, as both mobile payment methods are now the most widely accepted way of paying for basically anything in China. As the student worker supervisor in the Access Services team, I am also aware of the importance of creating a diverse and inclusive working environment for students, so we always offer job opportunities to students with various backgrounds, which also helps our library team to learn more about the community and improve our services with new perspectives.
Here’s one of the students sharing his experience at the 2018 commencement, and the speech vividly depicts the daily lives of international students at NYU Shanghai.
Christian Lauersen said “when the conditions for academia changes it should lead to action” (2016). This is especially true for a transnational university like NYU Shanghai in the face of a global pandemic. The NYU Libraries, including NYU Shanghai Library, have been collaborating and cooperating in so many ways since February when COVID-19 had its first outbreak in China. Faced with unprecedented circumstances, the Research and Instructional Technology team at NYU Shanghai Library was the first in the NYU Global Network to develop toolkits for distance learning, which was later utilized by other campuses. Library teams also worked together in areas like resource sharing, reopening guidelines, copyright, e-reserves, etc. From a personal perspective, the most important lesson I’ve learned from these past eight months is that empathy, support and collective efforts will always get us through the unimaginable difficulties. Librarianship in global universities should also encourage such collaboration and connection in their many branches and locations.
Kenney, A. R., & Li, X. (2016). Rethinking research libraries in the era of global universities. ITHAKA S+R. https://doi.org/10.18665/sr.283378
Lauersen, C. (2016, March 8). Towards Rubicon: the academic library and the importance of making a choice. The Library Lab. https://christianlauersen.net/2016/03/08/towards-rubicon/?utm_content=buffer42d5d&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
NYU Shanghai. (n.d.). https://shanghai.nyu.edu/