The Early College Library

jess-hinds-library

BHSEC Queens Librarian Jess Hinds, assisting a student.

“Daring, experimental research.” These words from Jess deCourcy Hinds, Librarian for BHSEC Queens, describe some her aims in working tirelessly to develop and enhance the BHSEC Queens library for over five years. If you walk into the library at BHSEC Queens, you’re likely to find small cadres of studying students, perhaps some peer tutoring, and maybe even some students checking out books. While at first glance, the library may seem like a typical high school library, just beneath the surface, one discovers the true collegiate atmosphere that BHSEC is known for.

With a team of up to 20 student interns each year, BHSEC Queens library visitors find a helpful greeter at the circulation desk, ready and willing to provide assistance. A stroll through the aisles reveals neatly shelved books, thanks to the dedicated corps of student volunteers. This experiential learning opportunity has sparked interest in future library involvement. Several Student Intern Program volunteers have gone on to work in other libraries such as the Korean Cultural Service Library.

The Interlibrary Loan Program (ILL), launched in early 2011, has created limitless opportunity for rigorous student and faculty scholarship. Jess says that she wanted there to be “no limits” on the reading and research available to BHSEC students and faculty. First, she launched a pilot program, offering professors the opportunity to use books that were too expensive to add to the BHSEC’s permanent collection. To avoid saying “no” to teachers desiring to help students, Jess initiated a membership to the New York Metropolitan Library Council. The council consists of 450 libraries and offers unfettered access to the best materials in the area.

Unsatisfied with access to 450 libraries, offering immense volumes of knowledge, Jess acquired software that allowed BHSEC to reserve interlibrary loan books from anywhere in the country. BHSEC Manhattan also takes part in the ILL program, with Jess working closely with BHSEC Manhattan librarian, Meghann Walk. “Meghann and I have helped each other learn the system.” BHSEC Queens and Manhattan now share books via courier, making the distant libraries a unified fortress of knowledge.

Access to books from anywhere in the nation can offer some interesting anecdotes. When asked what the most interesting interlibrary loan request she ever received was, Jess mentioned a rare book on the history of Haiti that was shipped to BHSEC from Alaska. To complete class assignments, students have come to Jess requesting interlibrary loans for medical encyclopedias that were so unexpectedly large upon arrival, that students could barely carry them.

Building a collegiate library takes funds and Jess has been an innovative fundraiser at BHSEC, driving much-needed resources by a variety of means. Donors Choose, an online charity website that allows donors to help students by donating to specific classroom projects, has allowed Jess to help students and teachers collect thousands of dollars in needed books and materials. All together, Jess has helped raise over $35,000 to better teaching and research at BHSEC. For a library that started with virtually nothing when BHSEC Queens moved into its current facility, things have come a long way but there are still many unmet needs.

Through the generosity of friends, alumni, and parents, BHSEC libraries can continue to grow towards their full potential. If you would like to learn more about how you can contribute to libraries at BHSEC, please contact Alysha Glenn, Director of Development, at aglenn@bhsec.bard.edu.

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