NYPL Researcher Spotlight (WFH edition): Anna Mayer

By Melanie Locay, Associate Manager, Center for Research in the Humanities
July 16, 2020

This profile is part of a series of interviews chronicling the experiences of researchers who use The New York Public Library's collections for the development of their work. The 'Working from Home' edition focuses on how researchers, through the challenges created by COVID-19, continue to use the Library’s resources remotely.

NYPL Researcher Spotlight (WFH edition): Anna Mayer

Anna Mayer studies German literature and film at Rutgers University. Before pursuing a PhD she received a master’s degree in Comparative Literature while studying in Vienna and Paris. Anna also works as a field bibliographer for the Modern Language Association.

What research are you working on?

My research tackles the question of how the emergence of digital surveillance enters German film and literature. I particularly look at West Germany during the 1970s, a politically very tumultuous time: While the left-wing terrorist group Red Army Faction (RAF) declared war on the political and economic system, the state responded by imposing an intrusive digital surveillance apparatus. Writers and filmmakers engaged with this pivotal moment and, in doing so, not only created counter-narratives to the depictions in the media but also negotiated what it means to be targeted by this novel invisible surveillance technique.

What resources are you using for your research?

The resources at The New York Public Library are amazing! Prior to the closing, between the materials available at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building and through the Shared Collections catalog, I could get my hands on pretty much any text while I was working in the Library’s Center for Research in the Humanities. But even now that I am not in the Library, I use my library card all the time. I just downloaded an entire volume from the Walter de Gruyter University Press e-book collections. Having access to such extensive electronic resources is really helpful right now.

What tabs do you currently have open on your computer?

I just opened the Missing Sounds of New York: An Auditory Love Letter to New Yorkers. So, there are city noises playing in the background. It’s quite pleasant.

Have you discovered a great online resource you've never used before? 

Yes, HathiTrust Digital Library! I use it on a daily basis.

What's your working-from-home setup?

I have a couple of gorgeous plants. They are taken care of marvelously now that I am home all the time. I have a nice wooden fold-out table in my room. After work, I make my desk disappear and do some online workouts.

What research tools could you not live without?

My analog notepad and Zotero. I usually jot down ideas on paper while reading. Zotero allows me to keep an overview of all the resources I have already consulted.

What's your favorite distraction or snack when working from home?

Peanut butter cups!


Are you using NYPL Library collections to research from home? We’d love to hear about your work! Not familiar with our online collections? Whether you'd like a quick introduction to our newspapers, journals, or e-books, or if you need help with something more specific, our online consultations take advantage of screen-sharing technology so we can show you exactly how and where to find things and recommend titles relevant to your work.

Just let us know what you need help with and we'll be in touch to schedule a time.