Students in the Creative Space

Nate Jackson and Erin Kedzie. Prior to the opening of the Learning Commons, the Libraries were piloting a digital Media Lab in the PCL to gauge how useful students would find certain hardware and software in service of their personal and academic creative work.

The diminutive 14-seat pilot helped to guide the development of the robust new 44-unit strong Media Lab that opened as part of the new Learning Commons last Tuesday, and, thus far, its central and very visible location has attracted even greater attention and use than was imagined.

Even during the pilot phase, though, the lab was earning a the loyalties of regular users, many of whom are students in departments that don’t necessary provide access to all of the tools or resources that can help to ballast student productivity.

We discovered one such student through the approval process for filming in PCL, which is a pretty regular occurrence, especially with members of the RTF and Communications programs at the university.

Nate Jackson is a Communications senior at UT who wanted to shoot a short film on synesthesia for a Journalism Portfolio summer class using the 5th floor stacks in PCL as a backdrop. As is the case with almost every request to use Libraries facilities for class projects, Jackson received approval, and enthusiastically agreed to share the finished work with us upon completion so that we could highlight alternate student uses of the libraries.

After viewing the finished product — which coincided with the preparations for the Learning Commons opening — and being extremely impressed with the quality and skill it exhibited, we reached out to Nate to find out if, in addition to serving as a location for his film, he might also have used the Media Lab at PCL as a resource in the process of creating it. As it turns out, that was indeed the case; Jackson used the tools provided by the Libraries to edit and record voice-overs for the project.

The Media Lab at PCL.Nate graciously indulged us by participating in the opening of the Learning Commons, where he and his co-creator of the film project Erin Kedzie talked to attendees to the event about the process of making the film and the value of the resources in the Media Lab to their classwork and creative projects.

“Being able to go any time the PCL is open and having this software available works really well for me because I can’t afford this computer software on my own,” Jackson recently told the Daily Texan.

Jackson and Kedzie are just one story in a massive community of talented students on the Forty Acres who have the opportunity to succeed because the Libraries are finding ways to provide resources that level the playing field for everyone, regardless of program or personal resources.

See more of Jackson’s films at his YouTube channel, and consider supporting the Libraries Think Space initiative to help other gifted Longhorns like Nate and Erin to reach their potential, too.

 

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Update: Fine Arts Library Recording Studio

Preliminary drawings for the recording soundbooth.

Wow, summer’s gone and the fall semester has arrived on the Forty Acres!

Just wanted to reach out and share an update on the Fine Arts Library Recording Studio.

Things are moving forward. We have been meeting throughout the summer to select equipment and design the space. The Libraries Facilities Manager is working with staff from UT’s Project Management and Construction Services to create a design that meets the requisite standards for building codes and aesthetics.

Floor map of FAL.Initially, we thought the studio would be located in the Fine Arts Library on the fourth floor of the Doty Fine Arts Building, but after consulting with Ken Dickensheets, a top acoustical consultant and media designer, it was decided that the studio should be on third floor, the entrance level of the Fine Arts Library, in a room currently used for group study.

Equipment has been ordered but things are taking a little longer than we had anticipated. An official open date has not yet been set, but we do plan on having some type of kick-off party to welcome everyone in the space. More details to come! We will end up with a studio that is larger and more sophisticated than initially planned, thanks in large measure to the generosity of all our donors.

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Punk Rock the Library

The Freud Punk Collection

The Libraries’ Historical Music Recordings Collection (HMRC) recently added a massive infusion of pristine and rare punk vinyl in the form of 700 LPs and 400 singles (45s) from a collection amassed by the late Justin Gibran (Freud) Reia.

Freud was an avid music collector and musician. His mother, Flora Salyers, and wife, Tamara Schatz, generously donated his collection, which fills a significant genre gap the HMRC’s overall corpus.

David Hunter, Music Librarian, is enthusiastic about the addition to the HMRC, and notes that it will take some time to process the collection and make it available to students, faculty, and researchers. The preliminary estimate for processing the materials is around $8,000, which covers the cost of a graduate research assistant’s time and cataloging.

“The collection is great, just absolutely great,” says Benjamin Houtman, outgoing HMRC Graduate Research Assistant. “Very, very authentic, widely varied — you can tell he loved this stuff. I’ve just barely scratched the surface but I’ve already seen Sham69, Flipper, the Jim Carroll Band, Iggy, Stiv Bators, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Blondie, The Clash, Black Flag — all legends — along with tons of completely obscure stuff.”

“I wish my record collection was 1/10th as good as this. I’m envious of the GRA who really gets to dig into this collection. I hope they appreciate it. Every record I’ve looked at appears to be in good shape too. Wow.”

If you would like to make a contribution to support this effort, please click here.

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Win Tickets to “The Look of Silence”, 8/14-20

Be one of the first five people to correctly answer the Human Rights Documentation Initiative trivia question to win 2 tickets for a screening of The Look of Silence between August 14-20 at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar. Winners will be notified by email and tickets will be held at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar box office.

About the film:
“The Look of Silence is Joshua Oppenheimer’s powerful companion piece to the Oscar®-nominated The Act Of Killing. Through Oppenheimer’s footage of perpetrators of the 1965 Indonesian genocide, a family of survivors discovers how their son was murdered, as well as the identities of the killers. The documentary focuses on the youngest son, an optometrist named Adi, who decides to break the suffocating spell of submission and terror by doing something unimaginable in a society where the murderers remain in power: he confronts the men who killed his brother and, while testing their eyesight, asks them to accept responsibility for their actions. This unprecedented film initiates and bears witness to the collapse of fifty years of silence.”

Trivia question:  What is one collection in the Human Rights Documentation Initiative archive that deals with the issue of genocide? Hint: Browse collections athttp://lib.utexas.edu/hrdi/ut_collections.

Enter the giveaway here.

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Commons Learning

Cindy Fisher teaches first-year students in a class at PCL.

Leading up to the opening of the Learning Commons, we’ve spoken in broad terms about the impact of having a suite of student resources and services co-located for ease of access and use, and how that convenience is expected to improve student outcomes. Much of the talk regarding that impact of the Learning Commons has centered on the process and completion of finished products of a more temporal nature such as reports, projects and other assignments, but beyond the resources — technical help, knowledge resources and technology — that will serve as the basis for user productivity, it’s worth considering the persisting influence that the learning opportunities supported by the new space will provide to the next generation of Longhorns.

Students attend one of the LIbraries' classes at PCL.Staff in the Libraries’ Teaching and Learning Services (TLS) unit has played a central role in planning the Learning Commons, and their activities will have a significant impact on the success of the initiative. The longstanding relationship between TLS and the University Writing Center was essential to the relocation of UWC to the Perry-Castañeda Library, and much of the vitality in the Learning Commons will be determined by how the partnership between the two groups evolves over time. UWC’s nascent presence has already reaped ideas for collaborating with the Libraries on programming in the new space, and coordinating with other student resources around campus — such as the Sanger Learning Center — will allow a crossover between the provisional service needs of users for the purpose of completing assignments and the generation of lasting skills like interviewing, public speaking, information literacy, and much more.

TLS emerged in 2002 — at the time designated Library Instruction Services — to take the place of the Digital Information Literacy Office (DILO) and expand on its mission to integrate information literacy into the campus-wide curriculum for general education, which it successfully accomplished in 2010. The unit’s name evolved to Teaching and Learning Services as its mission has expanded to represent a more comprehensive view of the academic landscape and the ways in which students and faculty interact to share knowledge and experience.

By its increased involvement in campus curriculum via information and digital literacy, TLS has routinely collaborated with faculty on assignment design and presents course-integrated classes in hands-on classrooms in the libraries. They’ve also created video tutorials on subjects such as avoiding plagiarism for integration into course web sites and embedding in online courses. Through a combination of these methods, TLS now reaches almost 3,000 lower division undergraduates every year.

Head of TLS Michele Ostrow at an information literacy conference organized with regional high school librarians.“The Learning Commons isn’t just about co-locating academic support services for ease of access but is about collaborating in new ways across those departmental lines to better support teaching and learning,” says Michele Ostrow, head of the Libraries’ Teaching and Learning Services unit. “We’re fortunate to work closely with a lot of fantastic faculty who teach in our freshmen programs and are committed to helping the excellent high school students who get into UT become excellent college students.” Continue reading

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Collections Highlight: Sanborn Maps

Dallas, 1885, Sheet 13. Sanborn Map Collection, PCL Map Collection online. Original courtesy the Briscoe Center for American History.

Founded in 1867 by D. A. Sanborn, the Sanborn Map Company was the primary American publisher of fire insurance maps for nearly 100 years. A 2007 partnership with the Briscoe Center for American History resulted in a multiyear scanning project that made the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for the state of Texas and Mexico (1877-1922) available online through the PCL Map Collection.

Over 10,000 maps were scanned primarily from the Briscoe’s collection, with additional items ingested from the most comprehensive collection of the maps at the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division, in Washington, D.C.

The information on the maps — which were published to determine fire insurance risks of particular buildings — has a multitude of uses for historians, urban planners, architects, social scientists, geographers, genealogists, environmentalists and anyone interested in the history and growth of cities.

Maps include details regarding the shape and size of residential and commercial buildings, street addresses, block numbers and property boundaries, as well as type of construction, type of roof, building height, location of windows and doors, proximity to fire hydrants and alarm boxes. For many of the maps, multiple editions exist that allow for the study of change over time for a particular area.

 

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Reel Answers to Reel Questions

The microfilm in question. Photo by Stephen Littrell.

Summer is the time for housekeeping around the Libraries, and much like undertaking the reorganization of one’s own closet, an occasional unexpected discovery occurs that either provokes nostalgia or rouses curiosity.

The latter was the case when staff at the Library Storage Facility at the Pickle Research Campus in north Austin recently came across more than 400 reels of microfilm which appeared to document the entire card catalog of the Libraries through images of each individual record.

Sample card from the catalog microfilm. Photo by Stephen LIttrell.Evidence dated the media from the late 1960s to the early 1970s, but none of current Libraries staff had a clue as to the reason that an entire catalog of just over 2 million volumes (at the time) would’ve been recorded in such a way.

Enter the institutional memory of a loyal retiree class.

Associate Director for Collections and Technical Services Robin Fradenburgh put out the call to a cadre of ex libris stalwarts to see if they could unpack the Riddle of the Reels.

“We are calling on our dearly missed retired colleagues to help us with this mystery.  We have about 400+ of these reels of film of catalog cards.  Stephen (Littrell) looked at three of them to see if they had dates…one didn’t, one looked like it was 1964 and the other was 1973.  Did we used to make films of our catalog cards as back up and do you see any reason we need to keep them?  Ben (Rodriguez) says they were added to LSF very early on.”

Thanks….none of our institutional memories go back that far.

Robin”

There are no guarantees when seeking an answer to a 40-year old question, but the former librarians didn’t miss a beat.

“Robin,

Of course, I wasn’t there before 1980, but when at the University of Pennsylvania, it was the year 1968 of upheaval of student protests, campus takeovers, etc. that the Penn Library experienced some incursions in which trays of catalog cards were dumped on the floor helter-skelter (as well as books being swept off stack shelves).

Those attacks led several academic libraries, including Penn, to microfilm either their catalogs or shelflists.

Bob”

University Freedom Movement rally, UT campus, 1967. Photo from “The Rag.” (linked)

And in further validation,

“I’m remembering a special project to microfilm the card catalog as a precautionary measure in the wake of student unrest on a number of college campuses.  The project may well have gone on for some time, but card microfilming was never a routine back-up procedure that we did for years on end.

Al”

So, the mystery solved and a lost history unearthed and passed along, the summer cleaning continues, and we’re reminded that technology has made preserving the Libraries’ catalog just a little less daunting than it used to be.

Thanks to Libraries alumni Bob Stewart and Al Rogers for bringing their respective knowledge and memory to bear.

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Steps Toward Success

Students at PCL.

Think back to your time on campus.

What do you remember?

I can tell you what my first few days on the Forty Acres looked like: I walked across campus to the North Administration Office for orientation, walked back to my office to eat lunch, then walked to the Flawn Academic Center to have my identification card created, walk back to my office, and finally walked to the Brazos Parking Garage at the end of the day.

If your experience as a student or faculty member was anything like mine as a new staff member, you can probably relate: working and studying at the University of Texas means you get around quite a bit!

As you might imagine, the University of Texas Libraries is one of the many locations that students flow in and out of throughout the course of their week. With one of the largest footprints on campus, our nine libraries see over 2.5 million visitors every year.

University of Texas Libraries is more than a location. It is a destination that provides resources and expertise that are fundamental to student success.

Research shows that first-year students who used library services in their first semester have a higher grade point average and are more likely to graduate in four years.

The Libraries are making a huge investment to improve the student experience both in our physical spaces and with enhanced technology-rich supportive services.

Save Your Soles at the Learning Commons.The Learning Commons at the Perry-Castañeda Library is our first step toward our goal of becoming a one-stop-shop for research, writing, digital media technology, and oral communication.

More research and collaboration; less walking.

Will you join me in supporting our Save our Souls campaign? Each gift will help us provide the technology and academic support services and transform the undergraduate learning experience for our students.


If you or your company is interested in contributing a matching gift during the campaign, please contact Natalie Moore for more information.

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Support OA? Earn a Trip to Brussels

OpenCon2015

The Libraries are looking for a current grad student or post-doc to become a serious advocate for Open Access on the Forty Acres with a unique opportunity to attend an international conference in Europe later this fall.

OpenCon 2015 FlyerThe Libraries are offering the chance to earn a travel scholarship to attend OpenCon 2015 taking place in Brussels, November 14-16, 2015. OpenCon is an academic conference that brings together students and early career academic professionals from across the world to learn about the issues, develop critical skills, and return home ready to catalyze action toward a more open system for sharing the world’s information — from scholarly and scientific research, to educational materials, to digital data.

The selected applicant will receive a $2500 scholarship to attend the conference — an amount which conference planners have designed to cover all expenses.

This conference is an excellent opportunity to learn more about open access, open education and open data, and to learn how to advocate for these issues. Last year’s meeting convened 115 students and early career academic professionals from 39 countries in Washington, DC.  More than 80% of these participants received full travel scholarships, provided by sponsorships from leading organizations, including the Max Planck Society, eLife, PLOS, and more than 20 universities.

To find out more about how to apply for the scholarship, visit the Libraries’ Open Access blog.

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Art in Progress

Hipstamatic photography by Stephen Littrell.

Though the Learning Commons is starting to take shape and less imagination is required to envisage the finished space, it is still a construction area, and not the spanking future version of itself quite yet.

Stephen Littrell is Head of Access Services for the Libraries, and an avid fan of the Hipstamatic digital photo app, which allows users to customize mobile-native photography using a variety of lens, film and flash filtering options, creating images with a nostalgic feel. Littrell recently used his digital photography skills to coax some subtle beauty from the otherwise drab, dusty and cluttered space that will soon be the new Learning Commons.

“When the Learning Commons opens in August it will be a lovely and vibrant space,” say Littrell. “But before the space opens to the public, there’s an opportunity to capture some of the construction process in a way that’s less documentarian and more playful…maybe even a little artistic.”

Littrell has posted his work on Instagram, and uploaded selections to Hipstography, a site that features galleries of work by Hipstamatic users.

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