Chat with a Rwandan Youth Leader

Aegis Trust Youth Ambassador Dydine Umunyana. Photo by Christian Kelleher.
Aegis Trust Youth Ambassador Dydine Umunyana. Photo by Christian Kelleher.

For a little over two weeks in January and February, UT Libraries was the home base for a visit by Rwandan Dydine Umunyana who works with Aegis Trust, a project partner with the Libraries’ Human Rights Documentation Initiative. HRDI project manager and Benson Collection archivist Christian Kelleher sat down with Dydine to ask her about her work in the U.S.

We’re so excited to have you here, Dydine. Can you tell me what brought you to the U.S.?

I came to the U.S. to advocate for young people from my country and to bring awareness to youth internationally as a Youth Ambassador for Peace from Aegis Trust, a nonprofit organization that combats genocide around the world. Aegis is based in England where they run the National Holocaust Center and Museum, and they help manage the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda.

UT Libraries connected to Aegis Trust and the Kigali Genocide Memorial through our partnership to preserve documentation of the 1994 Genocide. How did you first get involved with Aegis Trust?

In 2009, I was selected as one of 30 influential students at my high school and they brought us to the Kigali Genocide Memorial to learn the real history of my country and to go through their peace-building education program. The goal of the peace-building education program is to learn from the past, to help to stop cycles of hatred and be able to build the future. A few years later, as a result of what I had learned from the peace-building education program, I started a nonprofit company Umbrella Cinema Promoters that educates young women in Rwanda to share their own stories through film. We had a workshop in 2013 and launched the organization then, and that’s when I reconnected with Aegis Trust and was appointed a Youth Ambassador.

Tell me more about your filmmaking work!

After my high school I wasn’t able to continue my university studies, as so many young people in Rwanda. I had experience as a singer and songwriter, and I was asked to compose a song for a short film. I had to spend a week in the studio composing the song and learning the story of the film, and I also learned how they were doing things about filming and scriptwriting and I became so much interested in how they were making the film. So I went home and began writing a script for my own short film. In Rwanda you can’t do shooting of a film without permission from the government, so I went to the Ministry of Sport and Culture for a recommendation letter but they refused because I didn’t have a company that I worked for. I got the idea that I probably wasn’t the only young person who had ideas but no organization for support, so I decided I should start my own nonprofit company for that purpose, to encourage and empower young women to tell their own stories. I met some students from USC who were in Rwanda and they asked if I had a project and I took my script and called all my friends and we shot my first short film about the problem of HIV in Rwanda.

What have you done during your time visiting the University of Texas?

I’ve done a lot! I toured UT and it was tiring because of how big it is. I’ve been here for more than two weeks and I have had so many meetings engaging and bringing awareness about what’s going on in post conflict countries. I met with students in the White Rose Society at Texas Hillel and from Amnesty International, and with professors in so many departments like Women’s and Gender Studies and Theater and more. And I’ve spent a lot of time in the library because of the partnership between you and Aegis Trust and the Rwanda Genocide Archive.

And beyond UT, what have been some of the things you’ve done in Austin?

I met with Greg Kwedar who is producer of an amazing film Rising From Ashes about the Rwanda cycling team. I’ve experienced different food like barbecue and how Texans are so proud, and with [retired Vice Provost and Director of UT Libraries] Fred and Jean Heath I visited the Capitol building and learned about La Belle and the history of Texas at the Bullock Museum with the giant star. One day in the night I watched Selma, which was a great film for me to see how you can resolve conflict without fighting and I think it should be screened everywhere in the world, and in the morning went to the LBJ Library and saw how was America at that time. I didn’t even know there were libraries for presidents and I was able to listen to his calls with Martin Luther King and others!

Learn more about Dydine on her blog http://dydineadventures.com/, and Aegis Trust at http://www.aegistrust.org/.

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A Welcome from the New Vice Provost

Lorraine J. Haricombe Vice Provost and Director of the University of Texas Libraries.
Lorraine J. Haricombe
Vice Provost and Director of the University of Texas Libraries.

Welcome to the University of Texas Libraries!

As the new Vice Provost and Director of these great Libraries, I want to express my excitement to be here on the Forty Acres. I look forward to advancing the good work and building on the strong, effective leadership of my predecessor, Fred Heath, as we enter a period of renewal at The University of Texas at Austin.

It is my highest priority to meet the highly-talented staff of the Libraries and my colleagues on campus and around the state to gain a deep and full understanding of the rich culture and history of the state’s greatest public university and of its exceptional libraries that form the foundations of knowledge for this community.

We will be part of the transformative process for the next generation of leaders, welcoming students to be inspired and to relish the new and energizing learning experiences they will have during this phase of their life.

We will be critical partners in the advancement of innovation, discoveries and teaching with our world-class faculty and researchers and will reconfirm our unwavering commitment to lifelong learning for all.

And, we will aspire to live up to the vision of that grand idea at the University of Texas at Austin that “What Starts Here Changes the World.”

lorraine j haricombe
Vice Provost and Director
University of Texas Libraries

Read more about Haricombe in a recent interview with The Alcalde.

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Home is Where the Art Is

There’s a certain honorable quality of humility that seems characteristic to bibliophiles.

The book, being inherently sacred as some see it, belongs to the world — especially those that are part of a library’s collections and meant to be shared across time. So when a former UT teaching fellow recently rediscovered a borrowed volume that he had inadvertently packed away during a move some 60 years ago, he did what any guilt-ridden lover of books would do: he returned it along with a confessional (see below).

Thus a partner volume to the bound collection of an abstract art journal came home again — be it on a slightly lengthened extension of the normal lending period.

The Tiger’s Eye — its title a clever reference to Blake’s masterwork — was an important abstract expressionist journal published for a two-year run from October 1947-October 1949. The format of the journal emphasized the artistic process with poetry, fiction, drawings and reproductions of works being directly accompanied by the artist’s writings, criticism and essays. Internationally distributed, the quarterly journal was printed in editions of 3,000-5,000, with full-color covers and quality heavyweight stock that featured the occasional color plate, making it one of the more urbane publications of the era.

The journal was published by painter John Stephan and his wife, poet Ruth Stephan, in whose name the Libraries also maintains the large collection of poetry volumes that compose the bulk of the University of Texas Poetry Center.

The publication was seen as important enough to the abstract expressionist movement that it warranted an entire book dedicated to its history, The Tiger’s Eye: The Art of a Magazine (Yale University Press, 2002) of by Pamela Franks the Yale University Art Gallery.

To the great benefit of present and future users of the Libraries, The Tiger’s Eye, Volume 1, Numbers 1-4 (1947-8) has now rejoined its companion Volume 1, Numbers 5-9 (1947-8) after over a half-century apart thanks to an unexpected act by devoted patron of the written word.

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The Price of Transformation

 

Building the Learning Commons in the Perry-Castañeda Library and the Creativity Commons in the Fine Arts Library come with a big price tag. The University of Texas Libraries has invested time, money, and staff to these projects, however, there is still a need for funding.

Phase one of the Learning Commons will transform 20,000 square-feet on the entry level of PCL. In addition to adaptive-learning classrooms and a new media lab, the Learning Commons will serve as the new home for the University Writing Center. These changes are all part of making the Perry-Castañeda Library a one-stop-shop for student research and productivity. The  overall cost for the first phase of the project — roughly $4.5 million — has been shouldered with the help of the Office of the Provost ($2 million), the College of Liberal Arts  ($500,000), and the Libraries ($1.5 million). The Libraries will still need to raise roughly $500,000 in order to fund the technology needs,  the most critical of components for the Learning Commons. Funding opportunities for the Learning Commons:

  • Digital Media Lab Sponsor – $75,000 (2 available)
    Provide a space for 50 students to access state-of-the-art technology to assist them in creating presentations, media production, gaming projects and collaborative assignments.
  • Learning Labs Sponsor – $50,000 (2 available)
    Provide technology-enhanced large classrooms available for instruction and student study.
  • Learning Labs Sponsor – $35,000 (3 available)
    Provide technology-enhanced smaller classrooms available for instruction and student study.
  • Technology Sponsor – $25,000 (3 available)
    Provide hardware, software, technical assistance and installation of digital technology in the Learning Commons.
  • Collaborative Space Sponsor – $15,000 (5 available)
    Provide general study and work space for graduate and undergraduate students.
  • Learning Commons Sponsor – $10,000
    Support enhanced research, writing and academic assistance each student in the Learning Commons will receive.
  • Student Sponsor – $1,700
    Provide services in the Learning Commons for one student. Students will have access to research and writing assistance, tutoring, academic support, digital media production training and assistance.

The Fine Arts Library’s Creativity Commons will transform the way students and faculty use the libraries at the University of Texas. The Creativity Commons will include maker workshop tools found in colleges elsewhere on campus, like 3-D printers and shop tools, in addition to game development, recording and video production studios. The Libraries believe that hosting these labs is pivotal to students’ success because while these tools are available in other areas on campus, they are restricted to students of a certain major. The University of Texas Libraries has partnered with the College of Fine Arts to fund staff to create and manage the various aspects of the Creativity Commons. The overall cost of building the Creativity Commons is $175,000. Funding opportunities for the Creativity Commons:

  • Video Production Studio Sponsor – $50,000
    Provide high-end video technology and equipment to check out and enable students to have access to high-end cameras and a responsive editing facility with large format monitors.
  • Game Developer Studio Sponsor – $35,000
    Provide equipment and technology for game development and testing.
  • Maker Workshop Sponsor – $25,000
    Provide a DIY space for students to create, fabricate, build, hack, and code.
  • Technology Sponsor – $25,000
    Provide all necessary hardware, software, and instillation for the Creativity Commons.
  • Recording Studio – $15,000
    Provide a variety of equipment for song/music creation – keyboards, computers, mixers, microphones and a “voice over booth,” that will have sound isolation for signers and narrators to practice and record vocal parts.
  • 3D Design Workspace Sponsor – $15,000
    Provide a cluster of medium-level 3D printing stations that will be fully support from design assistance to implementation.
  • Student Sponsor – $5,000
    Provide services in the Creativity Commons for one student. Students will have access to state-of-the-art technology and equipment as well as expert training.

The UT Libraries will embark on its very first crowd-funding campaign in March to raise $10,000 for the Recording Studio in the Creativity Commons. The campaign has partnered with five “champions” to spread the word about the Fine Arts Library Recording Studio. Fine Arts Librarian Laura Schwartz, UT Libraries Chief Development Officer Gregory Perrin, Psychology major Rosa Muñoz, Theatre and Dance and Advertising major Sara Robillard, and Librarian and local Austin musician PG Moreno are championing the project to students, faculty, alums, friends, and community members to gain their support. The campaign will kick off on March 23 and run through May 1. For more information or to get involved, please contact Natalie Moore.

Philanthropy continues to play a key role in the Libraries success. Individuals and corporations who invest in the Learning Commons and/or the Creativity Commons will be recognized with their name in the completed spaces they have sponsored. To support the creation of the Learning Commons or the Creativity Commons, please contact Gregory Perrin or visit our online giving page today.

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iSchool Volunteer Program Begins

 

 

For over 25 years, graduate students from the School of Information’s Masters of Science in Information Studies program have volunteered at the Perry-Castañeda Library at what is now the Research Help and Check Out desk.

Through the Volunteer Program iSchool students gain experience providing expert research help in a university library by shadowing experienced librarian coaches. Each volunteer is paired with one or two coaches who guide them over the semester. By the end of the semester, volunteers will begin answering patron questions with support and feedback from their coaches.

Participants from both sides of the program speak highly of the relationships that it fosters between experienced librarians and students who are just entering the profession. The iSchool students bring fresh enthusiasm to working at the library that benefits everyone who works at or visits the PCL.

This semester’s program began on February 2nd and will run through May 8th. This semester’s volunteers are Corey Fifles, Alia Gant, Nicole Harris, Rachel Panella, Jeremy Selvidge, and Alicia Zachary-Erickson.

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Allison Orr and the Dance of the Everyday

Choreographer Allison Orr finds her art in the places that most people overlook. Where some see the banal drudgery and repetition of daily life, Orr finds beauty, fluidity, originality and grace.

As founder and creative force behind Forklift Danceworks, Orr has made her mark by taking the seemingly ordinary and reframing it in extraordinary ways. To do so, she’s recruited a cadre of non-traditional performers to her various dance projects: Venetian gondoliers, Japanese baseball players, sanitation workers and roller skaters, to name a few — each opening their trade or passion to observation and interpretation through Orr’s choreographic vision.

Her first collaboration with public workers set a path for her career to this point.

In Case of Fire” enlisted the City of Austin Fire Department and featured thirteen Austin Firefighters from stations 11 & 17, two fire engines, and a ladder truck. The thirty-minute performance took place in 2001 as one of the most memorable parts of Fire Prevention Week in Austin.

To research for the piece, Allison virtually embedded with the firefighters for over a year — riding on calls, interviewing the firefighters, and incorporating as much knowledge as she could in order to understand the nature of the profession and the people who represent it.

Since that initial project, Orr has undertaken works to explore the movements of a traffic cop (“Traffic Maven”), employed five Elvis impersonators to recreate the King’s last concert (“The King & I”), teamed up with roller skate aficionados (“SKATE!”), and, most recently, choreographed a cast of 50+ city electricity workers complete with cranes, bucket and field trucks and a set of 20 utility poles (“PowerUP”).

Perhaps the work that had the greatest impact, though, was her 2009 project that elicited elegance from a type of work that is perceived as antithetical to such a notion. “The Trash Project” was Orr’s effort to recast popular notions of sanitation workers, taking the day-to-day work of a largely underappreciated city service and making it into an art form. The 75-minute industrial ballet featured 24 employees and 16 large sanitation vehicles from Austin’s Solid Waste Services Department (SWS), and attracted an audience of 4,000. “The Trash Project” won numerous arts awards, and was captured in Austin filmmaker and UT faculty member Andrew Garrison’s award-winning 2012 documentary Trash Dance.

SWS Director Bob Gedert was moved by the outcome: “The Trash Project” showcased our employees in a way that had never been done before. [It] helped boost employee pride and morale and garnered lots of positive media attention for the department.”

Orr’s artist statement provides perhaps the most concise window into her philosophy:

“As a choreographer, I am inspired by practiced and habitual movement that comes from people’s everyday life or work experience, for I see dance as being any movement that is performed deliberately in space and time. I am particularly drawn to authentic expressions of highly skilled and virtuosic movement performed by people not labeled as dancers. . . I believe that embedded in that movement are stories about who people are and what they care about.”

Finding dance in the everyday isn’t as difficult as it might seem when one is aware of Orr’s background. She has two degrees: one in choreography, the other — which helps to obviate her artistic works thus far — in anthropology. In an interview with Texas Highways, she states, “I want to choreograph untrained dancers to explore, as an anthropologist would, how communities function.”

fal-livingdance-forkliftAllison Orr will be the inaugural guest for a new speaker series at UT’s Fine Arts Library (FAL) on the state and fate of dance titled “Living Dance,” scheduled for 6 p.m., Thursday, February 19. Orr will share stories, thoughts and footage from the remarkable projects that have arisen at the intersection of dance and daily life including “Play Ball Downs Field,” “Play Ball Kyoto,” “The Trash Project” and “PowerUP.”

Beth Kerr, the FAL’s Theatre & Dance Librarian, hopes to use the “Living Dance” series to bring greater awareness of Austin’s rich dance heritage and to begin documenting its past, present and future. “Austin’s dance scene is vibrant, ever changing, and innovative, as it has been for quite a while,” says Kerr. “My hope is that this series will open up discussion of work these artists are doing and lead to focusing some national attention on this amazing pool of talent.”

“Living Dance” with Allison Orr of Forklift Danceworks takes place at 6 p.m., Thursday, February 19, in the Fine Arts Library at The University of Texas at Austin. The event is free and open to the public, and special event prepaid parking ($3 ) for the E. William Doty Fine Arts Building can be purchased at the Parking & Transportation Services website.

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To Better Know Ford’s “Little Chapel”

Little Chapel in the Woods” at Texas Woman’s University (TWU) in Denton is the next featured work in the archive’s “To Better Know a Building” exhibit series that draws on the rich collections of The University of Texas at Austin’s premiere architecture special collection.

The small nonsectarian chapel — ninety feet long and forty-two feet wide, constructed of grey fieldstone and brick from nearby Bridgeport — was intended to reflect the indigenous style of the region while harkening to more modern sensibilities. The chapel is an early reflection of the role of craft in Ford’s career as well.

A design competition in 1938 resulted in the selection of the newly partnered O’Neil Ford and Arch Swank as architects, with Gerald Rogers chosen to devise a method to formulate the arches for the working drawings for the project. They were to be assisted by college architect Preston M. Geren, Sr., of Fort Worth.

The project was funded by an initial donation of $15,000 from the W. R. Nicholson family of Longview, Texas, with an additional $10,000 raised by students, faculty and alumni of the college.

Despite its relatively low budget, the project benefitted from the participation of a public works’ project — the National Youth Administration — which provided construction trainees as laborers; the workforce was augmented by more than 300 TWU students and faculty members, allowing construction of the chapel to be completed in late 1939.

The building has been designated one of the state’s 20 most outstanding architectural achievements by the Texas Society of Architects.

The Alexander Architectural Archive — a special collection of the Architecture & Planning Library — has among its materials the original construction drawings from the offices of Ford and Swank in the O’Neil Ford collection. The exhibit will present correspondence, notes, sketches, drawings and printed materials related to the design and construction of the building.

“To Better Know A Building” seeks to explore buildings through the drawings and other visual items found in the archive and library, promoting the records of a single building.  Plans, elevations and sections visually communicate design intent and can also be used as a vehicle in teaching through example.

An opening reception will take place at 6 p.m., Monday, February 16, in the reading room of the Architecture & Planning Library, located in historic Battle Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

UT alumnus Brantley Hightower — an educator, author and founding partner in the San Antonio firm HiWorks — will lead the exhibit opening by offering remarks about the “Little Chapel in the Woods.”

Attendees to the reception will have an opportunity to vote — along with students, faculty and staff in the School of Architecture — to help determine the next building featured in the series, chosen from a list of holdings of the Alexander Architectural Archive.

To Better Know a Building: Little Chapel in the Woods” will be on view in the reading room of the Architecture and Planning Library through August 31, 2015.

 

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Dr. Lorraine Haricombe Arrives as New Vice Provost

lorraine j. haricombe, Vice Provost and Director, University of Texas Libraries.
lorraine j. haricombe, Vice Provost and Director, University of Texas Libraries.

Born and raised in South Africa, Dr. Lorraine Haricombe joins the University of Texas Libraries as Vice Provost and Director from the Kansas University Libraries, where she served as Dean since 2006.

She previously held administrative positions in the libraries at Northern Illinois University and Peninsula Technikon in the Republic of South Africa, and holds doctoral and master’s degrees in library and information science from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. She also earned a teacher certification from the University of South Africa, an honors graduate degree in library and information science from the University of the Western Cape in South Africa and a bachelor’s degree in library and information science, psychology and sociology from the University of the Western Cape.

Haricombe holds memberships in the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries, the Library Administration and Management Association and the Association of American University Women. She is on the editorial board of Communicate, Journal of LIS (Nigeria), the editorial board of the Beta Phi Mu Monograph Series, the Service Quality Academy (LibQual+) selection committee and the 2006-07 ALA conference planning committee.

Highlights and Achievements

  • Daughter of a librarian.
  • Earned a master’s and a doctorate in Library and Information Science in only six years (1986-92).
  • As a single parent, successfully reared two accomplished daughters in the USA (Heidi who is a surgeon, and Gretchen, a teacher).
  • Inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame, University of Kansas, April 2012.
  • Association of Research Libraries, Leadership Career Development Program; mentoring junior librarians from underrepresented populations, 2007-present.
  • Provost’s designate for implementing the Open Access policy at KU, 2010-present. KU was the first public university in the USA where faculty adopted an institutional policy on open access.
  • Member, Executive Management Team, Research Libraries Consortium, South Africa 2011-2012.
  • President, Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA), 2011. GWLA is a consortium of more than 30 large academic and research libraries west of the Mississippi who share resources and expertise to facilitate meaningful collaboration in the western USA. KU is a founding member.
  • Inaugural member, Global Council, Online Computer Library Center, 2009-2011. OCLC connects people to knowledge through library cooperation among 72,000 libraries in 170 countries.
  • Member, Advisory Board, 2009-2012, and Chair, Steering Committee for the Scholarly Publications and Academic Resources Council, 2013-2015, Scholarly Publication and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC). SPARC is an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication.
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Student Produces in Media Lab

Roberto Torres, a recent graduate from UT Austin’s Radio, Television and Film program, has been one of the Media Lab’s most enthusiastic and regular users since we opened this summer. He received early training in film production at McAllen High School in south Texas, where he won awards for his work on the KMAC student-run news station.

Here at UT, Roberto has strengthened his skills in shooting, editing and post-production, and has started experimenting with special effects. This video shows how he combined 3D modelling software Maya with Adobe Premiere and After Effects to “shatter” the wall of a building:

Check out more of Roberto Torres’s videos at the PCL Media Lab blog.

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