This page from the manuscript “Book of Professions” of the convent of San Gerónimo in Mexico City, which Sor Juana entered in 1669, features a written affirmation of her religious vows, signed by the famous nun in her own blood.
Like so many leather skirts, go-go boots and seersucker jackets that need to be carefully stowed in the interim between their respective periods in vogue, these great buildings of books, too, need to occasionally clear space for more useful, timely purposes.
To that end, the Libraries have thus far accommodated a need for additional “closet space” through the construction of off-site warehouses much reminiscent of the one imagined in the closing scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark, seemingly endless rows of shelving stretched from concrete floor to stories-tall rafter, where once-prized tomes and formerly-current periodicals can reside until such time as they are once again called upon to provide the critical information needed to complete some important research or solve some lingering question.
These library storage facilities (LSFs) house those low-circulation items and fragile materials that might be considered complementary resources for collections from across the campus of The University of Texas at Austin and beyond. Both the Harry Ransom Center and the Briscoe Center for American History are reliant upon this remote storage in order to free up room for the more high-value, high-use items in their ever-growing collections of cultural artifacts. Likewise, as parts of the Libraries’ valuable print collection are accessed less frequently than in the past, it’s logical to move those volumes into a high-quality storage environment and establish systems for retrieving books as scholars request them from storage. The migration creates space that can be repurposed for student use and newer technologies to facilitate a more productive, modern learning environment.
The Libraries also enjoined sibling rivals at College Station in two of the ventures thus far — the second of two facilities at the Pickle Research campus in North Austin, and a joint library facility (JLF) at Texas A&M’s Riverside campus outside of Bryan, Texas. In a collaboration that seeks to minimize the physical presence of materials while still availing the needs of institutions across the state, UT and A&M have pared some of their collections to a single-copy that is then shared cross-organizationally through a delivery system coordinated by the principals. The Austin unit constructed in 2010 is already at capacity, and the Riverside unit, which opened in 2013, has incorporated nearly half a million volumes to date. Given the successful outcomes of the partnership, there are already considerations for the development of further partnerships.
Beyond the space-saving functionality of the LSFs, there is a compelling financial reason for moving low-use items off-site. A 2010 study showed the cost of storing a single volume in an open library stacks facility is $4.26 per year, taking into account personnel, lighting, maintenance and heating and cooling costs. The cost is pegged at 86 cents per volume for storage at a facility such as the Riverside unit jointly operated by the Texas A&M and University of Texas Systems — representing a savings of $3.40 per volume.
The Libraries learned recently that it had received approval from the Board of Regents to begin construction on a third unit at the Pickle campus, which is necessitated by the Dell Medical School’s future plans to build where the Collections Deposit Library currently stands. CDL has long served as a storage facility on campus for permanent collections, as well as a holding space for unprocessed materials, but due to its age and lack of available space, the building has just about outlived its utility. The new construction at the north Austin campus will allow significant additional materials from other campus locations, as well.
The coming facility will, like its predecessors, be climate controlled, and will hold roughly one million additional volumes, bringing the Libraries over halfway to completing a stated goal of removing two million books from campus locations to off-site storage. Construction on the $8 million building will begin in 2016 and is expected to open in late summer of 2017.
Along with providing invaluable resources for myriad scholarly and research inquiries, the Libraries collections can also occasionally become a sole source for needs of journalistic enterprise, as well, especially in the form of those unique items that are part of the Libraries’ special collections.
That was the case in a current three-part series by reporter Alan Peppard of the Dallas Morning News that looks at two small islands off the Texas coast that served as recreational and power centers for a pair of the richest oilmen in the state’s history.
“Islands of the Oil Kings” examines the islets of Matagorda and San Jose near Port Aransas. A significant portion of the former was purchased by Clint Murchison Sr., and the entirety of the latter was acquired by his lifetime best friend, Sid Richardson, both of the properties becoming retreats where the oilmen could both relax and play host to the most influential of guests, magnates of business and current and future leaders, including Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and a then-aspiring senatorial candidate named Lyndon Johnson.
Richardson’s San Jose sanctuary featured a house designed by esteemed Texas architect O’Neil Ford that married the sophistication of European modernism with the simplicity of the Texas ranch style. Being located in a place that was consistently the red zone for hurricanes, the building had to also be constructed with the strength to withstand the worst that nature could offer. When completed, Ford claimed that the structure was “tight enough to strum,” and, indeed, when Category 5 Hurricane Carla hit the Texas coast in mid-September 1961, the house survived with a mere broken window in the kitchen.
In pulling together resources for Part 2 of this excellent long-form article featuring engaging complementary multimedia components, Peppard leaned on the Alexander Architectural Archive (AAA) — part of the Architecture and Planning Library in historic Battle Hall — to provide photography of Ford’s design work on the Richardson compound. AAA maintains the collections of numerous notable Texas architects and designers, including a comprehensive archive of O’Neil Ford’s career with papers, plans, photographic prints and negatives, slides, exhibit boards, drawings and sketches that are preserved for use by students, scholars, researchers and architecture aficionados.
See more images of the Richardson home from the O’Neil Ford collection below.
My name is Rosa Muñoz and I am a sophomore majoring in Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. I am fortunate enough to be able to have an internship at one of the most well-known libraries on campus, the Perry-Castañeda Library.
I am the first person in my family to attend a university, so moving to Austin from Dallas was a big step for me. The idea of attending college was never supposed to be a part of my plan. I was brought up in a traditional Hispanic household where women were not expected to leave home, especially without being married first. I decided to come to UT because I had encouraging high school teachers who persistently pushed me to apply for colleges. During my junior year of high school, my English teacher encouraged our class to start researching colleges. The idea of something new sounded like a good opportunity, so I started my research. I decided that UT was where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life without ever stepping foot on campus.
During my time at UT I have created some great friendships and have learned so much more in my first year and a half than I had ever expected. My plans are to graduate from UT and attend graduate school to pursue my goal of starting my own practice as a psychologist.
Ever since I started working at UT Libraries I have come to find the library to be one of the best places to study at on campus. I try to take full advantage of the resources available. The library staff is always very kind and understanding and they help me with any questions or concerns that I have. My friends and I like the ability to study individually or as a group or even practice our presentations in the library. The efficient technology that has been added in the Libraries gives students more capability in utilizing those resources to their best advantage. In addition, to top it off the library is now opened 24 hours during the most critical study times leading up to finals.
The Libraries have so much to offer, not only for me but for students in all majors. Please consider making an end of year contribution to the UT Libraries. My fellow Longhorns and I are fortunate to have access to all the resources we need for academic success, but I know my tuition only goes so far.
The library is a very popular place! I enjoy telling my friends and classmates that I am interning in one of the most visited buildings on campus. I have definitely enjoyed the time I have spent working in the libraries, and I am certain that this experience will have an impression on me for years to come. All the connections I have established will last well beyond my college days.
Be generous and give today. Thank you for making a gift that will support all students.
Alisha Quagliana is the Discovery and Access Coordinator. In this position she oversees and administers the access of electronic resources for the University of Texas Libraries, and provides leadership, day-to-day management, and strategic planning for management and discovery of all electronic resources at the University of Texas Libraries.
In Alisha’s previous positions with the University of Texas Libraries, she managed the access of electronic resources through the implementation and development of data management tools. She also developed and maintained the metadata registry.
Alisha received her Master of Information Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, and her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Montana.
The Fine Arts Library (FAL) is a spectacular space on campus. In the last several years, the Roberts Reading Room has been used for a plethora of visual and performing arts activities. Concerts, lectures, film screenings, exhibition opening receptions. But of late, the space has become even more activated as artists and playwrights seek out the space as an element of their creation. Both the setting and the physical objects are active partners in the artistic output.
This fall artist David Horvitz requested to have his seminar with the faculty and students in the Fine Arts Library. When asked why David wanted to have his seminar in the FAL he says, “I make a lot of artist books and multiples and ephemera. I’ve been doing this for years. And throughout the years I started using the site of the library for various projects, such as the Drugstore and Cigarette Beetle projects. And so there were two reasons to do the event in the library. One was specific to the fact that I just sent in a Cigarette Beetle to the library, so I could see how it arrived, and how it would be received and entered into the library’s collection. But also in general of my affinity towards libraries and books.”
The faculty who invited him to campus, Kristin Lucas, was keen on the idea. “David interacts with systems of circulation and exchange in his art practice. How a system such as a library works and what David enters into circulation through a system are of equal importance to the understanding of his work. By situating David’s seminar in the Fine Arts Library, we intended to activate the library as a site for art. Ceremonializing the cataloging process of David’s donations was a way to visualize and consider the life of the work within this very social and accessible system of circulation that we are all familiar with using as a personal resource but that most of us have very little understanding of in terms of its procedures, complexity, and cultural value. It was also a way to show how David gives over a certain amount of control in the life of his artwork through the systems he engages, and that these systems take on a certain amount of responsibility in giving life to his work and potentially changing it over time.”
As we move deeper into the 21st century, people are finally recognizing that Libraries can be so much more than a place where books are housed or a place to study. Libraries have always been community centers. This notion is experiencing a Renaissance. Libraries are becoming active spaces that are sought out by community members for a variety of purposes.
So what is next for the Fine Arts Library? In the Spring, the FAL will be a venue for a play that is part of the Cohen New Works Festival. The play is about libraries. More on that from my next post.
Last fall, almost sixty beautiful, full-color book cover reproductions in poster form of titles nominated for the University Co-op’s annual Robert W. Hamilton Book Author Awards were put on display in the UFCU Student Learning Commons room at the Perry-Castañeda Library. The posters were originally produced for presentation in folding frame screens at the awards presentation dinner, but through a promotional partnership with the Libraries, the nominees for the university’s highest literary award now have an annual home in the university’s flagship library.
The 2014 grand-prize winner, along with the 4 runner-up prize-winners, were announced Wednesday, October 15, and the Co-op has again provided the Libraries with posters of each of the nominated titles for display at PCL.
The exhibit serves as acknowledgement of the research, scholarly and creative accomplishments of the world-class faculty and staff of the university — many of whom are reliant on the collections, resources and services provided through the Libraries to support their notable contributions to a better understanding of the world.
The posters will be on display until the 2015 winners are announced next year.
The Best of Sir Douglas Quintet is a classic album from an Austin transplant musician that came to the Libraries as part of the KUT Collection last year, when we received the beloved Austin radio station’s back catalog of 4000 LPs and 60,000 CDs.
Formed by Doug Sahm and his friend Augie Meyers in 1965 at the suggestion of record producer Huey Meaux, the Sir Douglas Quintet presented a Texas-regional rock and roots sound that belied their rather British-sounding name — a name chosen specifically to connect the band to the ongoing British Invasion period of music occurring at the time. Their unique Tex-Mex style rock was influenced by the cross-cultural currents of south and central Texas, where the sounds and traditions of Mexico, Germany, Acadian-Creole and the African-American south commingled.
The band actually garnered a top-20 hit with “She’s About a Mover,” but broke up after members were arrested on marijuana possession charges at the Corpus Christi airport. The arrest led Sahm to move to San Francisco, but Sir Douglas Quintet eventually re-formed with a new lineup, releasing the successful single and album Mendocino in 1969.
Bob Dylan was even a fan of the band, once stating, “Look, for me right now there are three groups: Butterfield, The Byrds and the Sir Douglas Quintet.”
Once added to the Fine Arts Library the music in the KUT Collection will more than double the library’s existing audio recordings, with the LPs being added to this Historical Music Recordings Collection.
With the Dell Medical School’s inaugural class set to arrive in 2016, its only fitting that one of our most innovative archiving projects should get a notable addition from the field of medicine.
The international partners of the digital Primeros Libros project have incorporated the first medical text printed in the New World, Francisco Bravo’s Opera Medicinalia.
The volume — which was printed in 1570, thirty short years after the arrival of the first printing press in the western hemisphere — is composed of four treatises, covering medical topics such as epidemiology (an entire treatise on “tabardete,” thought to be an antecedent of typhus), archaic treatments (bloodletting) and medicinal herbs (the last chapter focuses on Smilax aspera or Sasparilla root, which was prevalent in Mexico and North America), and features remarkable engravings, including a rudimentary diagram of the human circulatory system.
The digital iteration of Opera Medicinalia resulted from the only known copy of the original printing still in existence, housed in La Biblioteca José María Lafragua at the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla in Mexico.
The Primeros Libros project — of which the University of Texas Libraries and Benson Latin American Collection are founding members — seeks to digitize the first books published in the Americas, focusing initially on works published in Mexico in the 16th century. Each participating member library is entitled to a full set of the digitized exemplars of all partners as part of the project’s innovative preservation and access strategy. The project inventory currently includes over 349 exemplars — contributed by 21 partner institutions — of the 136 titles that are known to have survived to the present day.
The National Institutes of Health’s blog at the U. S. National Library of Medicine has more information on the history and importance of this volume.
Dark clouds gathered in the late afternoon sky in anticipation of the last storm of the summer. Inside, a DJ set the needle down on the 45-rpm version of a Jorge Ben classic just as the rain began to fall. Flecked by the light of a disco ball on the circulation desk, a convivial crowd had gathered to chat, snack, and enjoy the fact that it was almost Friday. The occasion was Field Notes, the fifth annual LLILAS Benson student photography exhibit and competition, held in the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection on the third Thursday in September.
Photographs from a summer of study, both abroad in Latin America and in Latina/o communities in the United States, hung in the Benson’s first-floor corridor, and visitors took in the images with interest and curiosity. The photos themselves expressed the range of experiences, viewpoints, and settings encountered by the student photographers: Ruijie Peng’s prize-winning photograph, taken in Ecuador, depicts Chinese and Ecuadoran workers standing in hard hats among rocky debris at the site of a hydroelectric construction project; the other prize winner, by Mariana Morante Aguirre, was snapped in Guadalajara, Mexico, outside a hostel along a railroad route used by Central American migrants and transient Mexican nationals alike.
In Mario Mercado’s photo, a trumpeter plays on a San Juan sidewalk in front of exuberant graffiti that invokes the instrument’s brassy sound. In a lovely image by Charles Wight, a lone boat floats on the Rio Negro near Manaus, Brazil. Our gaze turns skyward via the lens of Felipe Fernández Cruz, who photographed airplanes flying in formation against a clear blue sky above the Christ statue in Rio, the wings in identical posture to the outstretched arms of O Redentor. (A history student, Fernández went to Brazil to study how the twentieth-century state built air routes to colonize the interior.) A stunning black-and-white image by MFA film student Álvaro Torres Crespo shows two boys fishing from a pier under a cloudy sky at dusk in Puerto Jiménez, on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific Coast.
Some student researchers encountered roadblocks both expected and unexpected…