Speak Clearly, For Science’s Sake

Science, not in plain English.
Science, not in plain English.

Even if it is rocket science, it certainly helps to be able to explain it.

Grant funding has become increasingly competitive in a world driven toward the next great innovation or discovery, so researchers are seeking to find ways to present complicated ideas in terms that are easily understandable, even to non-experts, in order to generate interest in their areas of work.

To introduce the campus community to this strategy for professional success, UT Science Communication Interest Group is hosting a contest to challenge student researchers to present complex ideas to general audiences.

Science in Plain English will test participants’ ability to distill their often obscure technical knowledge into prose that can be comprehended by non-scientists in non-academic environs. Contestants will have to rely solely on their ability to communicate verbally — there is a prohibition on props, visual presentations, audio or video — and on their talent for connecting with an audience.

Presentations will be limited to 3 minutes, with judges assessing performances on brevity, clarity, speaking style and a meticulous avoidance of jargon and/or technical terminology.

The winner will be awarded a trip to the 2017 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, February 16-20, in Boston. Contest winner’s registration, travel, and accommodations will be paid for, up to a maximum value of $2,500.

The contest will be held on Wednesday, October 19 at 4:30 p.m. in the Student Activity Center Auditorium. The competition is already filled, but the contest is open to the public and audience participation will help determine the winner.

Supported in part by the Austin Radiological Association.

Hear a piece by Houston Public Media on a similar science communication competition. 

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We Are Family

Family Weekend 2016 at PCL.
Family Weekend 2016 at PCL.

UT Libraries welcomed over 200 individuals to its main library, the Perry-Castañeda Library, and made many more connections at the Great Texas Showcase during Family Weekend.

Your students are in great hands with UT Libraries!

Help us help your family and remind your student that:

  • UT Libraries has 10 libraries across campus and many of them have extended hours to help your student during crunch time.
  • Our libraries have quiet and collaborative floors and some libraries have reservable group study rooms.
  • You can visit or chat online with a librarian for help with your research projects.
  • PCL’s Learning Commons has writing, public speaking, and media project support available through one-on-one appointments or through workshops @ PCL.
  • Students can use computers and printers in any library. PCL and the Fine Arts Library have media labs with specialized hardware and software.
  • Find books, ebooks, movies, music, journal articles, and more online and in the library. You can also check for course readings at the front desk!
  • Headphones and calculators are available for check out in more libraries; the Fine Arts Library even has cool equipment like GoPro cameras and tablets available.
  • The Libraries host free concerts, workshops, study breaks, lectures, panels, and therapy dogs. Find out more on social media! (Event calendar)

Interested in getting more involved with UT Libraries or have suggestions for next year? Please contact us at events@lib.utexas.edu

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Collection Highlight: Jewish Cantors

Detail of Jewish cantors and opera stars.
Detail of Jewish cantors and opera stars.

The Historical Music Recordings Collection houses a group of 408 discs (78 rpm) of Jewish cantors and opera stars that were generously donated by Joseph Prager in 1995.

Pictures of the cantors and stars have been cut and pasted to the spines of the albums.

The collection includes work by Yossele Rosenblatt, considered one of the greatest Cantors of his era, and who has been referred to as the “Jewish Caruso.” Rosenblatt performed as himself in the first talking film, The Jazz Singer.

Cantors serve an important function in Jewish religious practices, as explained below by musician Jeremiah Lockwood.

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The Foundry is Open

A student tries out the Vive virtual reality equipment.
A student tries out the Vive virtual reality equipment.

After a frenetic summer of construction, the new maker space at the Fine Arts Library — The Foundry — opened to great fanfare (literally) on September 7.

More than 300 attendees were welcomed to the renovated area on the main floor of FAL with a flourish of horns by the FivE Euphonium Quartet — as well as other performances by Butler School of Music students and director Jerry Junkin — and remarks by Vice Provost Lorraine Haricombe, College of Fine Arts dean Douglas Dempster and Provost Maurie McInnis.

FAL staff and students provided demonstrations of the new tools and technology that inhabit the space, and the centerpiece video wall projected examples of creative work produced by art and design students from across campus.

Guests had the opportunity to see the 3-D printers, a carver, sewing and embroidery machines, and MFA student Jon Haas provided a hologram projection onto a large model of the UT Tower to the delight of onlookers.

The opening attracted interest from around the university community, as well as area residents, donors and local media.

Austin Chronicle

Austin American-Statesman


Daily Texan

Interim FAL head librarian David Hunter and Libraries supporter Jan Roberts pose for Austin American-Statesman photographer Ralph Barrera.

With the space completed, efforts to train staff and student assistants on the technical particulars of the new equipment and the development of training materials and video tutorials for patrons is well underway. The space is expected to be fully functional by the end of October, and the wait begins to see how students will use the space for creativity and innovation.

All photos by Lawrence Peart, provided by the College of Fine Arts.

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Building Relations, Connecting UT Libraries to the Coast and Back

Jessica Trelogan discusses data management.
Jessica Trelogan discusses data management.

Knowledge, relationship, awareness, perception, assessment, responsiveness, realization, recognition, insight, creativity, vision, and GRASP! Bingo, a seminar!

After a year’s planning and one conversation between a marine science librarian and a faculty member, a grand opportunity came to fruition for the Marine Science Library to connect the Marine Science Institute and its regional partners with UT Libraries. On August 19, we hosted a 2-hour seminar on Scholarly Publishing & Data Management at the institute in Port Aransas. Yes, “that place on the beach!” By inviting expert librarians from UT Libraries, a diverse audience received an informative session on topics relevant to researchers, librarians and students.

Colleen Lyon covers copyright and the basics of scholarly communications.
Colleen Lyon covers copyright and the basics of scholarly communications.

Colleen Lyon, Scholarly Communications Librarian at UT Libraries, covered the basics of copyright, transfer agreements associated with copyright, open access publishing and how to legally share research on online tools like ResearchGate and Academia.edu.

Jessica Trelogan, Data Management Coordinator at UT Libraries, shared her expertise on basic data management planning and principles. Requirements from funding agencies, publishers, and institutions continue to create pressures on researchers who are already stretched for time and funds. Jessica discussed the process of creating and writing a Data Management Plan (DMP), how to make data more discoverable, accessible and reusable, and provided useful resources.

The event was held in the large seminar room located in the Estuarine Research Center building, creating a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere, with views of the dunes and Gulf of Mexico. The small group of participants included faculty, staff and students from the Marine Science Institute and librarians from Texas A & M University, Corpus Christi. Throughout the seminar, thought-provoking questions led to some great discussions and our presenters handled them with ease.

After the session, attendees had an opportunity to chat, while enjoying a delicious lunch provided by the Mustang Island Food Company of Port Aransas.

The Marine Science Library continues to find creative ideas for its role in providing opportunities in learning and research. The seminar event was a great success!

Jessica Trelogan, Liz De Hart and Colleen Lyon.
Jessica Trelogan, Liz De Hart and Colleen Lyon.
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Post-Custodial Preservation and Latin America

Source: Colección Conflicto Armado del Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen
Source: Colección Conflicto Armado del Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen

The Benson Latin American Collection has established itself as a leader in the area of post-custodial archives — a systematic approach to preservation that places emphasis on providing for original materials to remain in the possession of its creators or cultural parentage. Such notable examples of the practice by the Benson are the projects that make up the Human Rights Documentation Initiative — including the Genocide Archive of Rwanda and the Guatemalan National Police Historical Archive — and Primeros Libros, a project to digitize the first books printed in the New World.

Most recently, though, staff from LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections and the Libraries have been building upon a project — initially funded from a 2014 Mellon grant award — that takes a more comprehensive approach to preserving the culture and history of Latin America.

The Latin American Digital Initiatives (LADI) repository, currently represents the collaborative efforts of LLILAS Benson with three Central American organizations on four distinctive projects:

Initial work was completed and the website for LADI was launched last November, and recently, the site (and the team that built it) was awarded the Excellence in Digital Libraries Award from the Texas Digital Library.

Theresa Polk, post-custodial archivist at the Benson and one of the project’s leads, is gratified by the success of the project, and looks forward to its future potential.

“It was tremendously exciting to see how the metadata facilitated these disparate collections talking to one another and to other Benson digital collections,” says Polk. “As the site continues to evolve, new collections are added, and researchers begin to actively engage it, we hope it will facilitate new insights into human rights scholarship in the region.”

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Snaps from The Foundry

Photo by Stephen LIttrell (@swl).
Photo by Stephen LIttrell (@swl).

As the last of the equipment was being installed and tested for the opening of The Foundry, resident mobile photography aficionado and Collections Logistics Librarian Stephen Littrell took his smartphone by the Fine Arts Library to capture some images from around the space in its pristine glory. Check ’em out.

And if you’d like to see the various 3-D printers, laser cutters, milling machines, virtual reality equipment and more in action, then join us next week for a ribbon cutting and open house at FAL, 12:30-2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 7.

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Welcome UT20 and Returning Longhorns!

Vice Provost and Director of the UT Libraries Lorraine Harricombe with the Longhorn Singers.
Vice Provost and Director of the UT Libraries Lorraine Haricombe with the Longhorn Singers.

Welcome to our incoming class and welcome back to our returning students!

It is with much excitement that I invite you into the many UT Libraries facilities across campus and also online.  While you were gone, we have updated our spaces, hired several new colleagues, installed new technologies to help orient you about our spaces, events and collections in the Perry-Castañeda Library, the largest library on campus.  At UT Libraries’ nine facilities you will find professionals with distinctive expertise committed to assist you in your scholarly work.  In the PCL you will find state of the art technology rich classrooms, gender neutral bathrooms, the University Writing Center, Stem Study spaces and the Scholars Commons for quiet study.  Just steps away from the new and vibrant pedestrian walkway on Speedway, the PCL is already open 24/5 starting on this first day of class.

In the Doty Fine Arts Building, the new 3900 sq. ft. Foundry in the Fine Arts Library will officially open on September 7. In the meantime you are invited to check out the video wall, the 3D printers, sound recording studio and more to support hands-on learning for the entire UT community.

Great libraries make great universities, and we will continually strive to make ourselves and our university greater, because all that starts here, changes the world — one student, one faculty member, one researcher, one mind at a time.

We are here for you onsite or online at http://www.lib.utexas.edu/

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Libraries and Technology — From Clay Tablets to 3D Printers

3-D printing a Longhorn at the Fine Arts Library.
3D printing a Longhorn at the Fine Arts Library.

A fellow library staffer recently observed that libraries are the place where the public goes to get an introduction to new technologies. One may scoff at that notion as an overstatement of importance, but on examination, it’s not such a far-fetched idea.

Libraries are in the business of early adoption for technological innovations, as most leaps forward have a profound effect on how library resources are preserved, shared and consumed. And as we begin to augment ways in which knowledge can be transformed either at the point of inspiration or in the presence of the resources that make transformation possible, it’s a natural progression to provide users with tools to communicate new ideas through the creative process as a next stage of evolution for libraries.

To wit, the very first cuneiform tablets may not seem terribly innovative given our immersion in modern digital technologies, but they represented a leap forward in how to document the knowledge of human existence. And they were collected in the precursors to libraries discovered in Sumeria — some dating as early as 2600 BC — which initially served to house government and religious records, but later incorporated information regarding history, mathematics and sciences.

Clay eventually made way for papyrus and paper, and later the printing press made duplication and dissemination a reality. In their early stages, these techniques and what they produced weren’t available to common people so the library, in time, filled the demand for access. Following a historical timeline forward, libraries have continued this trend, introducing the public to initially expensive and difficult to access post-industrial technologies like typewriters, copiers, PCs, printers and the internet — and to varying degrees, have made freely available tools for manipulating information of all types.

We’ve previously talked about a new kind of space that will launch at the Fine Arts Library (FAL) this fall that will continue precisely this function for library users. “The Foundry” is a maker space being developed to support the new undergraduate major in the Center for Arts and Entertainment Technologies (CAET) announced in February by the College of Fine Arts (COFA) by providing a suite of creativity tools that either have limited availability, limited accessibility or don’t exist elsewhere on campus.

The Foundry will feature numerous studios equipped with the most current technologies for specialized production by students in the CAET program, that will also be accessible to students from any department on campus.

The Game Development Studio will permit collaborative and immersive game play, game testing and game creation, where users will be able to check out the most recent consoles and connect these to large-format monitors for multi-person, multiplayer activities, as well as tools for developing artwork, sounds and game scripts for a variety of platforms. The Singer-Songwriter Studio will provide a variety of equipment for song creation — keyboard, computer, mixer, microphones and, most importantly, a voiceover booth that provides significant sound isolation for singers and narrators to practice and record vocal parts. A Video Production Studio will provide high-end video technology and software as well as equipment to check out. A 3D Print Workspace will include a cluster of 6 LulzBot TAZ 6 3D Printer stations and a Next Engine Desktop Laser Scanner that will be fully supported from design assistance to production. A Fiber Arts Studio will provide modern sewing and embroidery machines for textile work.  And the Maker Workshop will include microelectronics materials and a variety of shop tools and materials for creating across a broad spectrum of media, as well as a selection of high-end production machines:

a large-format Roland VS-30i Printer/Cutter,

a BOSS LS-2436 Laser Cutter,

a Carvey Desktop CNC Router,

a Roland MDX-40A CNC Mill,

Roland MDX-40a milling machine

and a Manix Precision Hot Wire EPS Foam Cutter.

Manix Hot Wire Foam Cutter.

There’s an air of nostalgia to a book-centric notion of libraries that persists with the institution’s adherents over time. But let’s not forget that libraries have long been on the leading edge of adopting new technologies throughout history — books included — and making them available to everyone.

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Collections Highlight: Audio Equipment Morgue at HMRC

Edison Amberola 75 cylinder player and cabinet. ca. 1915. Photo by Mark Menjivar.
Edison Amberola 75 cylinder player and cabinet. ca. 1915. Photo by Mark Menjivar.

The Historical Music Recordings Collection is the largest repository at the university for sound recordings (and one of the largest such collections in the United States) featuring a breadth of genres in almost every type of format utilized to store sound.

Due to the variety of formats, the HMRC also maintains an equipment morgue of anachronisms —  a collection of Victrolas, Edisons, wire recorders, reel-to-reels, tape recorders and other bygone audio recording and listening devices.


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