March 2010

As March draws to a close, I realize I have been remiss in my blogger of the month duties. I hope to make up for it in a series of blog posts about how to get the most out of your computer to help you improve your debate and argumentation skills. This week is perfect as we are preparing to host the Irish Times debating champions from Ireland. They will be on campus for four days, visiting with students, giving some seminars, and of course, debating against the home team. We hope you will be able to join us on Monday night in the Moot Courtroom to see them demonstrate their debate prowess.

Why do these skills matter? For years, we’ve known that the best companies in the world want to hire individuals who can communicate effectively. My sense is that in the current economic environment, people who can clearly, quickly, and adaptively advocate their ideas will be in a better position to get or keep the jobs they want. Advancement goes to quick movers and thinkers in a down economy.

Additionally, the current political climate in the United States stresses the need for thoughtful articulation of ideas and ideals. The recent debate over health care in this country serves as an index as to how weak, unthoughtful, and uninformed public debate over important issues has become. Shouting others down, relying on overwrought and unexplained labeling (eg. “Socialist”) do not help advance the quality of political discourse for society. It is up to those who care about the quality of public discourse to prepare themselves to engage in the conversation at the level they would like.

So in order to be this positive influence on public discourse, might I suggest a starter list of websites that are essential for starting your journey toward excellent debating prowess:

Debatewise – This website is a user generated, yet highly quality controlled website produced by competitive debaters and former competitive debaters. It is organized by topic and issue, and presents the best arguments for each issue in a side-by-side format for ease of viewing. It’s an essential resource to mapping out the key arguments on any given controversial issue. This should be a first stop to preparing a debate, or to brush up on what the opposition might say to an issue you feel is strongly weighted one way or another.

Debate Video Blog – This site is an amazing collection of actual competitive debates that have been recorded and collected from real tournament rounds. This is obviously interesting to the practicing competitive debater, but why would you care otherwise? The reason is that these competitive debaters must practice the same skills that will make you appealing in your rhetorical environment – word economy, directness, succinctness, and clarity. All of these things are essential to getting your point across and furthermore, they make you sound like an advocate and convey your position in a persuasive manner. Watch these videos to pick up some nuggets of rhetorical wisdom from some of the top college debaters in the world.

Last but not least is Debate Central, hosted by the University of Vermont. This is truly “one stop shopping” for debate education resources. Multiple handouts, books, videos, lectures, audio recordings and other resources are available for you to hone your debate skills. Of particular interest is the video series designed to teach individuals the advocacy skills they need to become more effective advocates for positive change in their communities.

These are the three most frequent debating sites I visit. They are free and easy to access. They also don’t require a lot of specific or technical knowledge to get something good out of them. I encourage you to try them out and see if they help you improve your argumentation abilities in your daily encounters.

In my next post, I will take you through the most vital digital resources for preparing for a debate or argumentative assignment in a course. There are a number of really great ones that I have no idea how I lived without for so long.

If you are looking to get a little research done over the break, please check your campus library’s Hours of operation!

Please also note a recent revision to the Queens library schedule for Easter Break. The last day of on-campus service at the Queens Library, prior to the break, is Wed March 31.  The St. Augustine Library building will be open and staffed until 11pm. Overnight hours (on the first floor only) will be 11:00pm – 6:00 am, and the first floor will be cleared at 6 am on Thursday April 1. (no foolin’!)

EASTER BREAK library hours:
On Thursday, April 1, the Queens St. Augustine Library will be CLOSED due to repair work. The building will remain closed from Fri 4/2 – 4/4. The library building opens, and services will resume again, on April 5, (Easter Monday), from 10:00am – 6:00pm. Extended first-floor hours also resume on Monday, April 5th at 6pm.

Of course, our NetLibrary ebooks, electronic databases and resources by subject are accessible, on and off-campus  24/7.   You can also take advantage of the AskUs service for help from a librarian via chat and email!

Food For FinesHave an overdue library book?  A fine you still need to pay?  Why not make a donation of food to the library and erase that overdue fine while helping a family in need?

Here’s how the drive works:

  • Students who return their overdue books to either the Queens or Staten Island Library Circulation Desks between March 22 and May 16, 2010 with donations of non-perishable food items will have their fines waived (see Suggested Food Items below).
  • One food item will erase one overdue fine regardless of the fine amount (multiple fines will be waived from the lowest to highest amount).
  • Pre-existing fines are also eligible.
  • Fines and fees resulting from lost or damaged materials are NOT ELIGIBLE for the Food for Fines program.
  • All food collected will go to Our Saviour Lutheran Food Pantry in Queens and Project Hospitality on Staten Island.

Suggested Food Items include: cereals, canned soup, instant potatoes, canned vegetables, evaporated milk, canned fruit, peanut butter, canned meat, canned fish, rice, pasta, canned spaghetti sauce, stuffing mix, etc.  No items past the expiration date or dented cans will be accepted!

Donations will also be accepted from anyone in the University community that wishes to contribute.

The purpose of the university library is to support the university curriculum, and the research needs of both students and faculty members. The better librarians understand the needs of individual members of the university, the better they will be able to fulfill them.

One of the most valuable means through which librarians can learn about the needs of library users is through a vigorous library-faculty liaison program. Through liaison work, the library can promote library services, share information about new acquisitions, and obtain information about new academic programs and the library materials required to support them. Liaison work can be formal or informal, and may involve librarians attending academic department meetings, or conversations with individual faculty members to discuss students’ research needs for specific courses. Whatever form it takes, the essence of fruitful liaison work is regular, open, and clear communication between the liaison librarian and the members of the academic department he or she serves.

Such interactions benefit the entire university community. By providing input on materials selection, teaching faculty members help insure that our collections support the curriculum and serve the needs of our user community. Making informed choices about the materials we acquire is especially important in times like these, when budgets are tightening and the library space for new books is limited. Library liaison also facilitates targeted, discipline-specific library instruction, which can help students write better research papers.

Just as the benefits are widely shared, so are the responsibilities for effective liaison. As librarians, we should eagerly cultivate relationships with faculty members from our assigned academic departments. Attending faculty functions, hosting workshops for faculty, and inviting faculty members for lunch or coffee, are just a few ways in which we can open up channels of communication. The keys in this, as in any other endeavor, are patience and persistence.

Teaching faculty should be receptive to overtures from the library. I sometimes hear faculty members complain that the library collections are lacking in certain areas, and that their students do not know how to conduct proper research. By participating in liaison efforts, faculty members can help address such problems. Even simple measures like providing librarians with syllabi for current courses offered by your department can provide us with tangible evidence upon which to plan instructional services and select materials.

Library liaison offers a promising means through which librarians and teaching faculty ensure that the university library supports the curriculum and facilitates free academic inquiry. As librarians, we should redouble our efforts to provide an energized and effective liaison program. I urge teaching faculty members to encourage and assist us in those efforts.

Further Reading:

Thull, James, and Mary Anne Hansen. “Academic library liaison programs in US
libraries: methods and benefits
.” New Library World 110.11/12 (2009): 529-540. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts. EBSCO. Web. 9 Mar. 2010.

Bennett, Onda, and Karen Gilbert. “Extending liaison collaboration: partnering with faculty in support of a student learning community.” Reference Services Review 37.2 (2009): 131-142. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts. EBSCO. Web. 9 Mar. 2010.


Representatives from Queens Library will be on the St. John’s University Queens campus

to process your application for a Queens Public Library card


March 16, 2010

10:00 AM to 3:00 PM

In the lobby of St. Augustine Hall


Did you know? “People, who live, work, attend school or own property in New York State may become an account holder for free. By opening an account and obtaining a card, you can borrow books, magazines, CDs, Videos, DVDs, games, and more, at all libraries throughout Queens. You may also use library computers or borrow laptop computers for in-library use when available. An account holder may also access services and information online from remote locations.”

Be sure to bring identification:

  • A valid New York State driver’s license, current photo learner’s permit or current non-driver’s ID card 
  • OR, your STORMcard

*For further information email Caroline Fuchs at or call 718.990.5050