Students Give Thanks

I'm thankful for the Learning Commons!

Did you know that philanthropy makes up nearly 10% of UT’s operating budget? If UT survived on tuition and fees alone, it would shut down the first week of November every year, so we take a day during that week to give thanks.  On Nov. 5, UT Austin celebrated the sixth annual Thanks Day, to show our gratitude to the more than 88,000 people who gave last year.

Philanthropy makes so many things possible at UT Libraries, from facilities like the UFCU Student Learning Commons, to scholarships for student workers, and the outstanding collections found across the Forty Acres.

We asked some of the many students who use our libraries to write a quick note of thanks. See more on the UT Libraries Flickr.



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Data Lab Coming to PCL

Conceptual Gears.

A new lab is coming to PCL as part of the Scholars Commons, opening in January 2016. The Data Lab will have 15 dual-boot iMacs capable of running Windows and Mac OS. Based on the results of a campus-wide survey of graduate students and faculty conducted last spring, the pilot lab will have software for statistical analysis, data visualization, and text encoding. Users will also have access to a UT Libraries-installed instance of Omeka and other web-based tools for digital scholarship. In addition to the new types of software, look for workshops on digital scholarship tools and methods throughout the spring semester.

The Data Lab will be a pilot space. We’re especially interested in your feedback about what works and what doesn’t so that we can provide the software that you need.

Software available in the Data Lab will include:

  • Adobe Creative Suite 6
  • Autodesk Design Suite (free educational version)
  • NVivo
  • Omeka
  • Oxygen XML
  • R
  • SAS
  • SPSS
  • Stata/MP
  • Sublime Text
  • Tableau Public

The lab will also offer standard office productivity apps.

The Scholars Commons, located on the entry of level of PCL, will offer silent study space to facilitate studying, space exclusively for graduate students to take a break, refresh, or meet with a group of colleagues and a Data Lab.

Have a project or idea that you think might be a perfect match for the Data Lab? Let us know! Contact Jenifer Flaxbart.

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Sustainability in the Library

The Tree of Knowledge.

What sounds better than saving money, adopting healthier habits, and conserving the Earth’s natural resources for future generations to enjoy and benefit from? The idea of sustainability is defined by the University’s Office of Sustainability as “societal efforts that meet the needs of present users without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs”. It is an idea that is rapidly becoming mainstream. The University took a lead in the area of sustainability six years ago when it created the Office of Sustainability. The Texas Legislature showed its commitment to campus efforts in 2011 by authorizing a new student fee called the Green Fee. In 2015 UT Libraries is showing its leadership on campus by becoming one of the partners in the pilot project of a new student run program called Green Offices.

Even before the creation of this new program UT Libraries actively embraced green principles by making it standard procedure to do such things as responsibly recycle printer cartridges and send its used furniture, computer, and electronic equipment to University Surplus for reuse. And this isn’t the first time the UT Libraries has demonstrated its commitment to responsible use of resources. Several years ago UT Libraries staff formed their own “Green Team” to run an in-house recycling program. The Team provided containers in the Perry-Castañeda Library for various types of recyclable materials; collecting those materials themselves on a twice weekly basis, and coordinating with University Facilities to pick up the recyclables and deliver them to a recycling center.

Grainy image of PCL Green Team members in the wild, 2010.

The Green Offices program aims to up the ante by providing departments and units on campus a means by which they can measure how green they already are and shows them how they can become even greener. UT student Chantelle Baretto (Plan II, International and Global Studies) came up with the idea and two other UT students, Juhi Amodwala (Management of Information Systems, McCombs School of Business) and Hannah Bevers (Government), created the survey and act as the current coordinators of the Green Offices program.

So of course Libraries staff were eager to get involved. InterLibrary Services and Fine Arts Libraries Circulation both volunteered their areas to be involved in the pilot part of the program hoping to encourage other areas of campus to get involved when the full program rolls out in February 2016. The UT Libraries has always been committed to meeting the information and research needs of the University’s students and faculty, but it also acts as an active supporter of student leadership helping to advance and promote ideas embraced by the rising generation of young people who will become the leaders of tomorrow.

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Gaining from Experience

Ian Goodale.

As the fall semester kicks into full swing and due dates for papers and projects start to loom, the reference staff at the Perry-Castañeda Library is gearing up to best serve the student population at UT both in person and online. One of the key access points for many students seeking help in the evening and nighttime hours is the Ask a Librarian service, which is staffed by graduate students in UT’s School of Information. The program welcomed four new interns over the summer, all of whom are excited to serve both the UT community and the broader, international base from which they receive questions.

Christina Gasull.

While the Ask a Librarian interns each take multiple shifts staffing our instant messaging-based reference service, they also gain experience in several other areas of academic librarianship. Answering email questions received from patrons worldwide is an important aspect of the internship program, and allows the interns to interact with a very diverse range of questions across a broad spectrum of disciplines.

Laura Gienger.

Staffing the Information & Research Help Desk in person at the PCL is another vital component of the internship, and provides the Ask a Librarian staff with valuable in-person reference experience. “Staffing the chat, email, and Research Help desk has been an amazing learning experience about serving the varied information literacy needs of a vast research institution with incredible diversity,” said Christina Gasull, one of the new interns. Laura Gienger, a returning intern appointed last spring, agrees: “The most interesting part of this position so far has been getting glimpses of all the different research projects and papers that students are currently working on!”

Hayley Morgenstern.

Communication and collaboration with full-time library staff is another important aspect of the internship program. In addition to working their digital and in-person reference shifts, all of the current Ask a Librarian interns have taken on additional projects in fields they are passionate about, working with librarians to develop and carry out work in areas of their interest. Hayley Morgernstern is exploring subject librarianship in Gender and Sexuality Studies, Ian Goodale is working with the Slavic bibliographer to research and supplement online research guides and do cataloging work, Robin Vickery is creating stack guides for the dance, music, and theatre materials at the Fine Arts Library, Laura has worked with the digitizing of materials, and Christina is currently helping to revise the PCL’s Youth Collection.

Robin Vickery.

All of the interns are passionate about serving the diverse communities of patrons they encounter. As Robin said, projects “that advance the library’s mission to support its community of patrons and researchers are what interest me most about librarianship, so I am excited for the opportunity to be so involved!”

Authored by GRA Ian Goodale.

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The Libraries and García Márquez

Gabriel García Márquez working on “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” Credit: Guillermo Angulo/Harry Ransom Center

As the university wraps up this year’s Fleur Cowles Symposium “Gabriel García Márquez: His Life and Legacy,” it’s worth noting the Libraries (specifically the Benson Latin American Collection and LLILAS Benson) involvement in support of the noted Colombian author’s archive at the Harry Ransom Center.

The Benson’s Mexican materials bibliographer Jose Montelongo accompanied Ransom Center director Stephen Ennis on a trip to Mexico City, where García Márquez spent his final years, to review the archive materials, and upon the announcement of the acquisition, Montelongo responded to media inquiries providing perspectives on the importance of the archive to the university and researchers, and on the author’s station in the literary canon.

As the premiere Latin American special collection in the western hemisphere, the Benson will provide the complementary resources and support for researchers who come to Austin to utilize the García Márquez archive, further strengthening the partnership between the two institutions.

An article by the Austin-American Statesman on the recent opening of the archive drives home the importance of the relationship between the Ransom Center and the Benson.

Listen to a Public Radio International interview with Jose Montelongo on the acquisition of the archive of Gabriel García Márquez:


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Preserving Voices from the Past

Phone conversations of the past.

Just in the last month, the university has announced research achievements in areas as varied as digital neuroscopy, millennial socioeconomic demography, biofuel farming practices, new species discovery and engineering to improve physical therapy. It’s a testament to how much starts here that really does change the world that we are constantly moving on to the next discovery or innovation.

But the basis for these discoveries doesn’t just disappear into some massive warehouse never to be seen again. Especially in the age of digital preservation, even those materials that could easily have fallen victim to the ravages of time can now be reasonably saved for contemplation or further consideration at some point in the future.

Such is the case with a trove of audio recordings compiled by Communications professor Robert Hopper (1945-1998) documenting the most seemingly commonplace of activities — human conversation.

Over the span of decades, Hopper meticulously captured thousands of hours of person-to-person interactions, phone conversations and phone messages in an attempt to understand how we connect with each other in the most basic of ways.

Hopper’s research resulted in nine books, over sixty essays and numerous papers on the subject, but just as importantly, he left us with a sizable snapshot of how people shared space with each other during a particular era in which the telephone was a significant tool for conversation.

From voice to magnetic tape and now to a collection of ones and zeroes spread across time and distance, this information has been carefully preserved from its origination in the 20th century to today, and is available through the Libraries digital repository, Texas ScholarWorks, for anyone to access.

Established in 2008 as the University of Texas Digital Repository, Texas ScholarWorks was created to provide open, online access to the products of the University’s research and scholarship, preserve these works for future generations, promote new models of scholarly communication and deepen community understanding of the value of higher education.

Along with its recent renaming, the repository received a significant upgrade making it easier than ever to access, utilize and synthesize data and knowledge generated at UT for broadening our understanding of the world and of ourselves.

In such a way as to warrant a reconsideration of his work — made possible through endeavors like Texas ScholarWorks — Hopper presaged the increasing centrality of technology to the human experience in his 1992 book, Telephone Conversation:

“As citizens in the telephone age become increasingly summons-vulnerable, technical innovation transforms and constrains possibilities for speaking. In constructing summons and in answering them, we use resources already available in the speech community. But adaptation to this new medium alters communications patterns that are among our most priceless community resources. Ecological pollution may strike semiotic systems as well as air and water. We experiment on ourselves by using the telephone which may be the electronic medium that transforms its users the most thoroughly.”

The Libraries copy of Robert Hopper's "Telephone Conversation," inscribed by the author.

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Agrasánchez Collection of Mexican Cinema

Film poster for "Romeo y Julieta" (1943) from the Agrasánchez Collection of Mexican Cinema at the Benson Latin American Collection.
Film poster for “Romeo y Julieta” (1943) from the Agrasánchez Collection of Mexican Cinema at the Benson Latin American Collection.

Film producer and cinephile Rogelio Agrasánchez, Jr., has amassed the largest collection of Mexican movie materials in private hands which he maintains in Harlingen, Texas.

The Benson Collection acquired from him a large selection of materials including original posters, lobby cards, still photographs, flyers, and broadsides advertising Mexican films from the 1930s to the 1990s.

These resources have supported publications on the development of Mexican film production including the “golden age,” 1936-1956, and specialty subjects such as posters, fantasy, and horror. Genre films on comedy, history, folklore, mysteries and so on are well represented.

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Building on a Solid Foundation at Life Science

The Life Sciences Library in the UT Tower.

The University of Texas Libraries is pleased to announce a new collection in the Life Science Library, the Gillson Longenbaugh Foundation Oncology Research Collection. This new collection was funded by a generous contribution of $50,000 by the Gillson Longenbaugh Foundation in honor of Alta G. Longenabugh. The Gillson Longenbaugh Foundation supports medical research across Texas, identifying researchers and centers at the cutting-edge of their fields. This gift will enable the purchase of substantial electronic resources to support cancer research at UT.

Nancy Elder talks with Lorraine Haricombe.More and more STEM researchers rely on electronic resources, but collection funding is inadequate to address the rising costs of these materials. UT Libraries is working closely with the Dell Medical School to ensure our collection will provide the basic fundamental resources necessary for medical research. As the Dell Medical School has not yet hired a Medical School Librarian, Nancy Elder, Life Science Head Librarian, has stepped in to assist with resource selection. This gift comes at a vital time, as after over thirty years of service, Nancy Elder is retiring in mid-November. Elder has been an incredible asset to the UT Libraries, enhancing the collections and bringing a wonderful passion and spirit to her position. She will be sorely missed by the users of the Life Science Library and her colleagues at the UT Libraries.

UT Libraries would like to extend thanks to the Gillson Longenbaugh Foundation and in particular, board members E.W. “Ned” Torian, Dr. Neal R. Pellis, and foundation president Lawrence I. Levy. Special thanks to UT Libraries Advisory Council Chair JD Torian who facilitated this gift.

We also thank Nancy Elder for her years of service and her recent efforts for the Dell Medical School. If you would like to honor Nancy Elder and/or help purchase similar resources, please support the Life Science Library.

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Open to Change? Change to Open.

Year of Open

As the world grows larger and closer at the same time, how do we ensure that we grasp the opportunities for sharing knowledge in ways that precipitate the ideas and innovation that will the global community?

Open access has been put forth as at least part of the solution to democratize information and expand knowledge through a lowering of barriers to access.

So what is open access? According to the statement of the 2002 Budapest Open Access Initiative: “By open access, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search or link to the full text of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software or use them for any other lawful purpose….” Scholarly Communications Librarian Colleen Lyon has provided a more lengthy explanation of the idea at the Open Access blog.

Vice Provost Lorraine Haricombe came to the UT Libraries with a set of informed priorities for expanding the campus understanding of the concept of open access. Having developed a comprehensive strategy for the libraries at the University of Kansas — spearheading the effort to make it the first public university in the U.S. to adopt a campus-wide OA policy — she’s brought a reserve of energy and ideas to Austin to convert open agnostics to the cause.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that there are some nascent allies on the Forty Acres as the university investigates flipped classrooms and distance learning opportunities, and to that end, the Libraries have joined forces with Texas Learning Sciences to establish a year of awareness-building on concepts of open access with the hope of generating some grassroots momentum toward a campus-wide embrace of open practices.

The “Year of Open” kicked off in September with BYU adjunct faculty and co-founder of Lumen Learning David Wiley, who provided a promising overflow crowd with a high level explanation of open access and discussed the rationale for moving from a resource ownership model to the shared model that is at the heart of the open content movement. Wiley helped develop Lumen Learning as an open access advocacy organization dedicated to increasing student success and improving the affordability of education through the adoption of open educational resources by schools, community and state colleges, and universities. Video of Wiley’s presentation is available for viewing at the Texas Learning Sciences “Year of Open” page.

On November 5, the second “Year of Open” event will feature David Ernst, Chief Information Officer in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota, as well as Executive Director of the Open Academics Textbook Initiative — a program developed to improve higher education access, affordability and success for all students through the use of open textbooks. Ernst created and manages the Open Academics textbook catalog — a single source for faculty to find quality openly licensed textbooks — and he and his colleagues are also developing a toolkit to help other institutions interested in starting their own open textbook initiative on campus. He’ll talk to attendees about how the adoption of open textbooks can help overcome the impediments of access and cost to improve student success outcomes.

After the holiday break, the “Year of Open” continues with events in the spring, including talks by Georgetown University professor and Executive Director of Georgetown’s Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship Randy Bass (February), and Bryan Alexander (April), senior fellow at the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE), as well as a panel on open access and the future of scholarly communication, also tentatively scheduled for April 2016. Check back with the Libraries calendar for coming details on these and other “Year of Open” events.

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Literature on a String

Wood, Paper, String exhibit.

Modern forms of independent publishing like zines owe a debt not only to the likes of Thomas Paine, but also to popular types of cultural or regional publications that emerged from a desire to capture an otherwise oral tradition for both broader diffusion and preservation.

The Brazilian literatura de cordel — literally “string literature” from the way that street vendors suspended the chapbooks — is a notable example of a form that gained traction due to its relatively low impact production requirements and visual appeal.

Mostly in the form of quartos, cordels are small chapbooks or pamphlets containing folk novels, poems and/or songs, and usually decorated by woodcut prints that became prevalent in the 19th and 20th centuries, mostly in the northeastern region of Brazil.

The Benson Latin American Collection recently opened an exhibit of cordel literature drawn from its collections, curated by Julianne Gilland with assistance from Teresa Wingfield and Carla Silva-Muhammad.

Wood, Paper, String highlights the art and history of the Brazilian popular literary. Featuring recent Benson Collection acquisitions, the exhibition explores cordel’s evolution from traditional to contemporary themes and showcases the woodcut illustration that is an iconic visual element of the genre.

Wood, Paper, String runs at the Benson Collection in the second floor gallery space through January 31, 2016, and is open to the public during regular hours.

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