Welcome Back from Vice Provost Lorraine Haricombe

Welcome back...

Welcome back to campus, Longhorns.

We hope the holiday break provided both a welcome respite from your studies and an opportunity to rejuvenate for the semester ahead.

You did a good job of breaking in the new Learning Commons at PCL and took full advantage of the new 24/5 hours last semester. We hope you’re finding these extensions of service and resources beneficial to your productivity, and we’re always listening to your suggestions for further improvements at the Libraries.

While you were away, Libraries staff used the period of reduced activity on campus to re-envision and renovate two familiar spaces to meet the expressed needs of our users, both of which opened at the beginning of the semester.

On January 20th, we celebrated the opening of a new Scholars Commons pilot on the ground floor space that previously housed the periodicals (now on Third Floor). The Scholars Commons will be a hub for research and serious scholarship within the PCL — a space for experimentation and scholarly inquiry, supporting interdisciplinary collaboration by fostering a dynamic intellectual environment.

And on January 25th, we join with partners from Student Success Initiatives, Natural Sciences, and Engineering to christen the new STEM Study Area in the UFCU Room at PCL. This space is intended to be used to provide instructor-led sessions and Sanger Center tutoring services to students enrolled in STEM gateway courses at the point of need, with the goal of improving student outcomes.

More changes will come in the near future, and, as always, we’ll continue to reimagine these UT Libraries with your help in order to make them the best they can possibly be.

Good luck with the spring semester, and Hook ‘Em!

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Book Catalogs the Universe of UT Collections

“The Collections” (UT Press, 2016).

While we’re apt to sound out the world-class general and distinctive materials maintained by the Libraries, these resources are just a single galaxy in a greater universe of extraordinary collections across UT campus.

In the first of its kind accounting, the University of Texas Press has just released a massive assemblage of the rare, unique and exceptional collections that reside on the Forty Acres in the form of The Collections, a necessarily significant tome documenting the various holdings — recognizable and not so — from around UT.

Represented in the book are Libraries mainstays such as the Benson Latin American Collection, the Alexander Architectural Archive, the PCL and Walter Geological Map Collections and the Historical Music Recordings Collection, as well as highlights from discrete collections across the branches.

The book features hundreds of items from more than 80 collections campus-wide, covering a range of subject areas: archaeology, ethnography, fine and performing arts, rare books and manuscripts, decorative arts, photography, film, music, popular and material culture, regional and political history, natural history, science and technology.

Edited by Andrée Bober with the support of more than 350 staff from across the university, The Collections features a foreword by UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves and a historical introduction by Lewis Gould, professor emeritus of American history, whose essay traces the formation of the collections and acknowledges many people whose visions are manifest in these material resources.

The Collections is available now through UT Press, and will be in the stacks at the Fine Arts Library soon.

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Scholars Commons Opens in PCL

Data Lab in the new Scholars Commons at PCL.
Data Lab in the new Scholars Commons at PCL.

The Scholars Commons, a UT Libraries pilot initiative introducing new spaces and approaches to research and data lifecycle support at UT Austin, opens on Wednesday, January 20 at noon. Located on entry level of the Perry-Castañeda Library (PCL), it features space for silent study, a Data Lab, an exhibit area and a Graduate Landing Spot with a suite of study rooms exclusively for graduate student use.

Aesthetically compelling and functional in design, the Scholars Commons is a dynamic intellectual environment for scholars at all levels engaged in serious study.  It is a gateway to a suite of services provided by the UT Libraries and campus partners to facilitate academic inquiry and scholarship, connecting scholars with librarians and with each other.  UT Libraries subject librarians are available by appointment to consult on resources, scholarly publishing, research data management, and digital scholarship, and will provide workshops along with other experts from Learning Sciences and the University Writing Center.

Scholars Commons.
Group Study Room in the Scholars Commons.

Last spring, UTL librarians conducted focus groups with graduate students and faculty to learn more about their research and writing needs, and received survey input from over 1,100 graduate students and faculty.  The Scholars Commons bring to life the spaces and services informed by these members of the UT Austin research enterprise.

The silent study area of the Scholars Commons offers a tranquil place for scholars to focus fully and reflect on their work without distractions. Researchers will be close to UTL’s robust collections and the expertise of service providers at the Research Help & Check Out desk.  Study tables, comfortable chairs, and abundant outlets make it easy to drop in for a few minutes or stay for an entire afternoon of productive work. This area will be a unique UTL space on campus in that it is designated as a completely silent study area.

Scholars Commons.
Group Study Room in the Scholars Commons.

Graduate students wanted a place for networking with their colleagues that would be flexible for a variety of needs and the Graduate Landing Spot in the Scholars Commons is a home for graduate students within PCL. Students can swipe their UT ID cards to enter a suite adjacent to the silent study area comprised of four technology-equipped group study rooms that may be reserved online, a lounge for heating and enjoying meals, and a general purpose study and networking area. This space is open to graduate students of all disciplines.

Part of the pilot will include an increased focus on digital scholarship and the digital humanities. A Data Lab with 15 dual-boot iMacs allows UTL to offer access to high-end statistical analysis software, like SPSS and SAS, for the first time. The Lab can accommodate small classes and library workshops. Faculty interested in bringing a class to the lab to use the software can contact scholarscommons@austin.utexas.edu.

Scholars Commons.
Graduate Landing Spot in the Scholars Commons.

The Scholars Commons initiative will also highlight and promote UT scholarship in the form of events and rotating exhibits. The first exhibit in the space, Crafting Art and Geology: The Publications of Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy (1877-1947), was curated by Dr. Janice Leoshko from the Department of Art and Art History and Department of Asian Studies. The Scholars Commons will also host lectures and seminars to share the world-class research that is being done at UT.

The Scholars Commons is a pilot project. Librarians and UTL staff will be soliciting feedback from users and taking note of the ways that scholars use the space, including what works and what doesn’t. Come by PCL for the opening event or to investigate the Scholars Commons to find your place for exploration and innovation within the Libraries.

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Students, Spaces, Collections, for a Win

Records in the Reia punk collection.
Records in the Reia punk collection.

A happy convergence of circumstances at the beginning of the recent academic year resulted in a creative endeavor that highlights the Libraries, its users and the students who represent the quality of talent at The University of Texas at Austin.

Early this fall, the Fine Arts Library’s (FAL) music librarian David Hunter received a generous donation of pristine and rare punk vinyl in the form of 700 LPs and 400 singles (45s) from a collection carefully amassed by the late Justin Gibran (Freud) Reia.

Justin Gibran (Freud) Reia

Reia was a guitarist for Berkeley-area punk band The Criminals in the 1990s, active during a time when the city was spawning a pop-punk revival that manifested bands that would go on to garner broad attention, such as Rancid, The Offspring and Green Day. His connection to the punk music scene and the various players in a place where record stores are in abundance made it possible for Reia to build an exceptional collection of genre-specific gems.

Reia’s collection was donated to the FAL’s Historical Music Recordings Collection (HMRC) by Reia’s mother, Flora Salyers, and his wife, Tamara Schatz, with the hope that the music he had spent his life compiling would benefit future students, faculty and researchers who rely on the archive as a resource. Salyers delivered the collection herself, hauling the records in her car on a road trip from Little Rock, Arkansas, after a series of consultations with Hunter.

Reia’s lifetime of collecting — and his family’s decision to make the donation of materials — serves to fill a genre gap in the HMRC. Punk music was notably underrepresented as a focus within the archive, but the addition of such a range of items, many of which are uncommon or even obscure, has opened a new avenue of development for the collection.

This fall also saw the opening of the new Learning Commons in PCL, including the new expanded Media Lab on the ground level of the building. The lab is designed to provide students and other users access to the tools needed to build creative multimedia projects that are increasingly the currency of productivity in the higher ed learning environment. The lab is managed by Libraries Teaching and Learning professionals, but is staffed by students — Media Lab Assistants — from the University Leadership Network, a program of the UT Provost’s office designed to help undergraduate students from historically disadvantaged communities develop leadership skills while achieving academic success consistent with graduating in four years.

Lab assistants come from a range of different fields of study across campus, and work in tandem with their supervisors to develop expertise in the use of hardware/software in order to share their skills with fellow students who use the lab. Some of the assistants were chosen by the Media Lab managers for skills and knowledge they already had, such as Charisma Soriano, a junior Marketing and Radio-Television-Film major, who has experience with filmmaking and production. Charisma brought with her an understanding of that process which has been invaluable for Libraries staff.

ULN lab assistant Charisma Soriano and Learning Technologies Librarian Cindy Fisher.
ULN lab assistant Charisma Soriano and Learning Technologies Librarian Cindy Fisher.

To expand the opportunities for the ULN students in the Media Lab, as well as to fill a need for the Libraries, Charisma and her fellow lab assistants Lucia Aremu — junior  Government major — and Jocelyn Mendoza — junior, Education — were approached by their  supervisors to see if they would be interested in making a short film to highlight some aspect of the Libraries efforts; the subject matter was left completely to the students’ own interests. All three enthusiastically agreed to take on the project, and settled on the Reia punk collection as the focus for their effort.

Working in coordination with Media Lab Manager Andy Wilbur, the students toured the HMRC collection (located at the Collections Deposit Library) with David Hunter, conducted preliminary interviews with Hunter and Katherine Strickland — PCL Map Collection manager and punk music aficionado — then organized, shot, edited and produced a short documentary film on the collection, which is viewable below.

The Libraries relies on the generosity of donors and the talent of students and staff to make efforts such as this possible.

The preliminary estimate for processing the Reia Punk Collection is estimated at $8,000 — covering the cost of a graduate research assistant and cataloging. Consider donating to the Fine Arts Library to make this collection available for use by students, faculty, researchers and scholars.

 

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Looking Back

Looking back...

It’s been a year of change at UT and the University of Texas Libraries, with the arrival of new leadership and major transformations taking place across the campus.

As we prepare to close out the final page on the calendar, it’s worthwhile to take a look back at a year in which the Libraries and the university entered a period of renewal.

Learning Commons opening. L-R: Randy Diehl, Gregory Fenves, Lorraine Haricombe.
Learning Commons opening. L-R: Randy Diehl, Gregory Fenves, Lorraine Haricombe.

As staff eagerly anticipated the arrival of a new director after the departure of former Vice Provost Fred Heath, construction began on the Learning Commons at the Perry-Castañeda Library in January — a 20,000 square foot renovation that represented the largest transformation of space in the building’s history. The space opened at the beginning of the fall semester with an event featuring some 200 attendees including new UT President Gregory Fenves and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Randy Diehl. With the relocation of the University Writing Center to its new digs in the Learning Commons, the PCL is seeing more activity than at any time in recent memory.

Lorraine Haricombe.
Lorraine Haricombe.

Lorraine J. Haricombe arrived in February from her previous post at the University of Kansas to chart a new course for the Libraries, bringing with her fresh ideas and perspectives as well as a record of successes in the field of open access. After a short period of acclimatization during the spring, Haricombe enlisted staff to help her envision and begin to implement a new path for the organization, one that has grown in momentum to the current day.

Doug Benson and Teresa Lozano Long.
Doug Benson and Teresa Lozano Long.

Cultural advocates Theresa Lozano Long and Nettie Lee Benson were honored in a ceremony with leaders, family, friends and supporters at Sid Richardson Hall that saw the unveiling of twin plaques recognizing the great ladies’ contributions to the Latin American Studies at the university in March.

The Libraries’ propensity for fostering creativity manifested itself in a successful crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the construction of a recording studio at the Fine Arts Library (FAL), and in the continued pilot of the Media Lab at PCL that provided students a technology rich resource for work on modern multimedia projects.

A pair of NEH grants buttressed research support efforts by the Libraries as staff committed more energy to seek public funding for essential projects. And a grant from the Hearst Foundation provided a boost for the construction of a broad-ranging makerspace — The Foundry — at the FAL, which will support students across campus, but especially in the new Creative Arts, Entertainment and Technology program announced this year at UT.

T-Kay Sangwand and Christian Kelleher meet with Rwandan officials.Partnerships at home and abroad evidenced the way in which libraries can contribute to the preservation of and access to the historical record. A web-based medieval mapping project — MappaMundi — launched after a collaborative effort involving Libraries technology staff and faculty from the College of Liberal Arts, and partners in Kigali and Great Britain announced the launch of the expanded and updated Genocide Archive of Rwanda, marking the latest grand success of a years-long relationship.

The Libraries continued its popular run of programming, with entertaining and informative events in the form of Science Study Break, Research + Pizza, Films in Person, Excessive Noise concerts, the Distinguished Author Dinner, and exhibitions from the Benson Latin American Collection and the Architecture & Planning Library’s To Better Know a Building series.

Dale J. Correa, MES Librarian, and Mahjoub Zweiri, professor of history at QU.And collections continued to grow, especially in areas of distinction, thanks to the hard work of staff who circumnavigate the globe in search of rare and niche materials — as Telugu pulp fiction acquired by a bibliographer in Hyderabad — and by donors, as well, who provide resources in new and underrepresented subjects to benefit current and future researchers — like the Freud Reia punk collection, now part of the Historical Music Recordings Collection.

Plenty of other gains were made this year, but it would be remiss not to talk about a few noteworthy losses the Libraries experienced, too. Along with the normal churn of staff that occurs over time in an organization, we saw a late-year spate of retirements by some of our foremost and long-serving librarians. Engineering Librarian Susan Ardis, Life Sciences Librarian Nancy Elder and Physics-Mathematics-Astronomy Librarian Molly White all contemplated careers of success and left behind their respective legacies for the next generation. Colleagues have honored their contributions with the career reflections offered below.

 

Susan Ardis

From Larayne Dallas

Susan Ardis.
Susan Ardis.

Susan used to tell us that she’d been around since dirt was a baby but actually she started work as Head, Engineering Library in 1979.  She came to Austin after serving Galveston’s Rosenberg Library as Head of Reference.  It was Michigan (and Wisconsin) before Texas.  Susan’s B.A. (History) and A.M.L.S. (Library Science) are from the University of Michigan.  She stayed on at Michigan to work in Cataloging, and then for six years was Head of the Natural Science Library.

During Susan’s time at the Engineering Library, valuable endowment funds were added; society publications and technical reports were brought into good order.  Engineering was the first at UT to remove the card catalog, to add a CD-ROM index, and to offer computer-aided instruction.  Also, Engineering was among the first to offer public computer printing and a computer lab.  Engineering became a U.S. Patent and Trademark Depository Library.  Susan oversaw the opening (and then the closing) of the Balcones Library Service Center.  After Virginia Phillips’s retirement, Susan added responsibilities as Head, Science Libraries Division.

Susan wrote three books and numerous articles.  She taught credit classes at UT and (online) at San Jose State.  Additionally, she taught patent workshops for the Texas State Library and for SLA (Special Library Association).  She won an innovation award from SLA.  A particularly big adventure was a consulting job that took her to libraries in Viet Nam.

Colleagues remember Susan as full of energy and always ready with innovative ideas in support of providing better library service.

 

Nancy Elder

From Liz DeHart

Nancy Elder.
Nancy Elder.

I had the pleasure of working with Nancy for 16 great years and I cannot say enough what she has meant to me. As mentor, friend and colleague, she’s been an inspiration for all of us at UT Libraries.

One of the most memorable times with Nancy was during my interview for the position I hold now at the Marine Science Library. She, Virginia P. and I flew in a small state plane to Port Aransas to meet with MSI faculty and staff. My nerves were already scrambled just thinking about the interview and flying in that “puddle jumper” really added to my nervousness. I remember Nancy telling me, “it’ll be okay.”

Nancy was an instrumental part of the Science Team, sharing her wisdom and keen sense of wit. She always had this knack for providing great analogies when describing certain points, whether it was work-related or just part of daily life. Loved it! Nancy was open, honest and good-hearted and because of that, she entrusted me with the Marine Science Library. I respected that very much and could not have asked for a better working relationship.

With all that comes with retirement, I wish you a happy one, Nancy. It’s been a blessing to work with you and I shall miss you, as we all will.

~~ HAPPY QUILTING, m’friend!

 

Molly White

From Dennis Trombatore

Molly White.
Molly White.

Molly White joined the Science Library crew in 1987. I had been here for two years, but Molly was already an old timer with a deep institutional memory. She had been an undergraduate and a Library School Master’s student at UT, and worked for the Libraries as early as 1968. She worked in the Tower when it was still the Main Library, she worked in a number of other units, and during that period she also took a long break and worked for Texas Pacific Film in Austin, so she has deep ‘old Austin’ cred. When she came to the science group, she was at the Balcones Service Center and at Life Sciences before she became the PMA Librarian in 1991.

Molly took on a formidable group of traditionalists in her disciplines, and despite a rough couple of years during our first wave of serious journal cancellations, she rose above it and developed strong working relationships with all three groups, working back and forth across the lines to develop new technologies and services while maintaining the core capabilities that her scientists required. She has also wrestled with the vagaries of her space, spearheading a number of improvements that made PMA a better and more user friendly library.

Molly took a keen interest in our organization, and has served on numerous projects, committees and task forces through the years, as well as in the profession, where she has been very active in the Physics Mathematics Astronomy Division of the Special Libraries Association and served on a number of science publishing advisory groups. Her colleagues know her as someone willing to ask difficult questions, and work with a team to find good solutions. Molly has been a real contributor, a good colleague, and a friend. I am grateful to have had her as a member of our team, and we will all miss her.

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Scanning the Past for the Future

Preservation staff digitizing art.
Preservation staff digitizing art.

There’s no doubt that the embrace of digitization by museums and libraries has significant benefit for the devotees of art history. The preservation of the cultural record from the degrading effects of time is the most utilitarian benefit of the practice, but archival digitization also allows for non-linear consideration of creative works in its ability to allow art to be partnered with other data, information, critical context, etc. Digitization is, though, limited by the sheer volume of historical works that exist and by that which continues to be created. Sometimes, the only sure way for art to be preserved digitally, is for a specific need to arise.

Such is the case with the work of Sandow Birk, a visual artist in southern California, whose art contemplates modern American society with a nod to past masters.

Rose Salseda.

Earlier this year, UT College of Fine Arts Ph.D. candidate Rose G. Salseda began research for her dissertation by interviewing several artists who created artworks in response to five days of civil unrest caused by a jury’s acquittal of four white Los Angeles police officers who had been charged with the videotaped beating of Rodney King, a black motorist.

“These riots were the first in history to be heavily documented through live news coverage, film, video, and photographs,” says Salseda. “Yet, past scholarship has failed to recognize the potential encompassed within art to speak to the history of the riots.”

“My dissertation seeks to unearth a missing visual narrative. Moreover, it reveals the capacity of art to unhinge and complicate polarizing histories of the 1992 LA Riots.”

“The Bashing of Reginald O. Denny” by Sandow Birk. 1993. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 28″ x 36″. Collection David and Pamela Banks (Little Rock, Arkansas).

Along with Birk, Salseda had interviewed sculptor Seth Kaufman and graffiti artist Man One, only to discover that virtually none of the artists’ work from the 1980s-90s had been digitally preserved.

“It really alarmed me,” says Salseda, “because, since most of these artworks were in private collections or in unprotected public spaces, no one would have the opportunity to see them again.”

In working with the Birk, Kaufman and Man One, Salseda was able to gain access to slides, photos and ephemera directly from the artists themselves.

“Birk was the first of the three artists that I met. He shared slides of his work with me and I was surprised that only a few had ever been digitized,” recalls Salseda. “I knew that if the documentation of the work was not updated, it may continue to be overlooked by scholars, teachers, and others.”

Salseda remembered from previous work with staff at the Visual Resources Collection (VRC) at UT that a library might be able to help her capture the imagery, thus ensuring that it would be preserved for both her use, as well as the use of future researchers. But she needed to find someone close by in Southern California that would be willing and able to assist.

“I contacted the head art librarian at Cal State Long Beach — the university closest to Birk’s studio. She then directed me to Jeffrey Ryan, the CSULB Visual Resource Center staff,” recounts Salseda. “I spoke with Ryan and he volunteered to digitize Birk’s images, as well as that of other artists whose work has not been digitized. Thus far, he has digitized several hundred slides for me and the artists I work with — all of which are now available to CSULB students, faculty and staff.”

Salseda then followed up with Sydney Kilgore, media coordinator for the UT’s VRC — an actively growing collection of some 80,000 digital images of art and architecture located at the university’s Fine Arts Library — to see if it would be possible to ingest a selection of Birk’s work into the university’s digital media repository, the DASE (Digital Archive SErvices) Collection, for the benefit of students, faculty and researchers at UT.

“When Ms. Salseda approached us with the Birk project we knew it would be another win/win situation,” says Kilgore. “In this case, the VRC additions resulted with Rose Salseda wanting to share her research, and artist Sandow Birk being willing to personally choose and share 30 images of his art which he felt were representative of his career.”

“American Qur’an Sura 9 B” by Sandow Birk. 2013. Ink and Gouache on Paper, 16″ x 24″.

Salseda is currently working with Kaufman and Man One to secure digital images of their work for inclusion in the VRC, as well, which are expected to arrive next year.

She believes that there is a larger history to be told by the art that was created in the wake of the unrest, but because of a lack of documentation, the story of the period has an incomplete context.

“Due to the numerous artworks the riots inspired and the surprisingly scant scholarly and curatorial consideration of this work, I am positive there are many more artworks out there that have not been properly digitized and archived,” Salseda says. “In general, the lack of art history on the riots and the unbalanced focus on a small pool of artists means that other artist contributions to this important episode in LA and US history are forgotten or go untold.”

It’s this personal, practical experience that Salseda had in the process of her own research that prompted some realizations about the temporality of art and the necessity of digital preservation.

“I have come to realize even more the importance of digitizing images. These images are essential when original artworks are lost, reside in private collections, and/or are irregularly exhibited,” she says.

“It is also important for artists to update the format of their image archives to ensure that future generations have the potential to access images of their art when viewing equipment for older formats become scarce or defunct,” says Salseda. “However, taking on such tasks are out-of-reach for many artists: the equipment is expensive, as is hiring private companies to do such work, and it can take an extraordinary amount of time if one does not have the proper equipment or assistance.”

“Resources like UT’s VRC and CSULB’s Visual Resource Center are invaluable. From personal inquiries to professional ones, like documenting my exhibitions or archiving images related to my dissertation, I knew I could rely on these resources. I hope more students and faculty realize the important indispensable services they offer.”

An exhibition featuring Sandow Birk’s “American Qur’an” is currently on view at the Orange County Museum of Art.

Sydney Kilgore, Rose Salseda and Thao Votang contributed to this article.

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Student Update from Rosa Muñoz

Hello,rosa2

You may remember me, my name is Rosa Muñoz and I am a junior majoring in Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. I previously wrote a blog post last December. I wanted to update you on the last year.

During my time here at UT I have realized that it takes a lot of effort and time management to be successful in your academic years as an undergraduate. I never imagined myself being capable of attending such a prestigious university, being involved in organizations, and working all at the same time. As you may remember, I was the first in my family to attend college, and I am happy to share that my sister is attending college as well. With family resources being tighter, I now have to be even more responsible than before in order to keep attending UT. Thankfully UT Libraries offered me a second position as a student associate. Words cannot express how grateful I am to have received work study this year in addition to my ULN internship. It has been a struggle trying to support myself and I am thankful that UT Libraries has helped me make ends meet.

As graduation gets closer, the pressure to do the best that I can gets even stronger. But since I’ve started working at the UT Libraries I have come to find it to be one of the best places to work. My supervisors and the library staff are very generous and understanding when I come to them for help or advice. I so appreciate it when I am able to study once I am done with my assignments at work. It really helps, because sometimes I get home pretty late from meetings with my extracurricular activities. Not to mention, all the things that I have learned at this internship. In the past year, I have learned new software like Excel and Adobe InDesign, I coordinated an event for graduating student workers, made thank you calls to donors, and communicated with UT Libraries supporters about events. I also helped advertise the Hornraiser campaign for the Fine Arts Library Recording Studio by organizing a photo booth. This work has helped me get out of my shell by promoting it on social media and handing out fliers to people. These are some of the many reasons I decided to continue working at the PCL. I did not want to lose the connections and relationships that I have created here at the libraries.

I plan to go to graduate school in order to get my masters in either clinical psychology or counseling. I’m still unsure of what path I want to pursue, but my dream is to have my own practice someday. I know it is going to take a lot of hard work and dedication, but that is one of the many things I have learned here at UT.

I’m trying to take full advantage of the resources at UT Libraries. They’ve gotten me pretty far and I know I’m not the only one. Our libraries offer study spaces, computer access, research and writing help, and almost endless information. Please consider making an end of year contribution to the UT Libraries to help support resources like these.

Be generous and give today. Thank you for making a gift that will support all students.

Happy Holidays,

rosasm

Class of 2017

Please consider making an end-of-year gift to the University of Texas Libraries in support of students like Rosa Muñoz. 

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Sharing Tech Resources with Campus

One of the Libraries' many computer labs.
One of the Libraries’ many computer labs.

We talk much about the collections (physical and digital) and spaces at the UT Libraries, but there’s a significant technology infrastructure in place to facilitate access and digitally preserve the Libraries’ massive assemblage of electronic resources. To maintain those important tools, a highly-trained cadre of technology professionals is constantly on call to respond to issues, discover and implement technological innovations and provide for the support needs of staff.

As the Libraries have continued to explore ways to expand services to address the needs of campus, we’ve considered how we might leverage this technical expertise to provide support beyond the Libraries.

Chris Carter — the Libraries’ Director of Planning and Operations — was approached by representatives of the McCombs School of Business after they heard a description of the cost model for supporting UT Libraries labs. McCombs Director David Burns wondered if that support could be scaled to provide lab support in the Business School. Carter and his staff ran the numbers and took the proposal to Libraries administration, who roundly backed the evaluative project, and after a pilot period in Summer 2015, Libraries’ IT Infrastructure staff took over the tech support of a lab at the McCombs School.

Under the terms of service, the Business School purchases the hardware and secures licensing of specialized software, and the Libraries provides installation and support of operating systems, applications and updates for the computers; when there’s a problem with a PC, Libraries IT staff respond to address it. Fees charged per computer by the Libraries was determined to allow for the accommodation of additional IT staff should growth of the lab make it necessary.

Computers at the PMA Library.
Computers at the PMA Library.

Along with the branches, this brings the support coverage area maintained by Libraries staff to 14 locations, and Carter feels that there is room to expand to provide the service to other interested parties on campus.

“We structure the service so that it fits into our current, lean and efficient desktop support approach,” says Carter. “The cost per PC for support is intended to allow us to add an FTE if we increase the service so much that it needs an extra person. For now, we just rely on the excellent and efficient people we currently have.  In particular, the excellent systems administration skills of David Roberts makes this possible.”

The College of Natural Sciences recently contributed 20 additional units to the Mallet Chemistry Library — bringing the number of computers to 32 — and provided specialized software, but, in this case, the Libraries simply took ownership of the expanded lab. The opportunities for growth in the third-party support model for campus computer labs, though, is extensive thanks to an ever-present need for technology.

Computers at Fine Arts.
Computers at Fine Arts.

Carter thinks the Libraries are well-suited to play the support role for other campus partners by virtue of what we’ve learned from internal efforts.

“We see the service from the perspective of supporting a high volume 24/7 kind of operation in PCL and extend the same service offering to anyone who wants to have a library lab in their space,” Carter says. “The McCombs lab is a 24/7 facility for business students and we’ve been able to both replicate what is available in PCL and customize it for their needs.  It’s a good model of a basic, replicable service that will both scale and also allow for local customization depending on the discipline.”

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The Art of Carmen Lomas Garza

Tamalada 2003 (2003) by Carmen Lomas Garza. IRIS giclée digital print on paper, 4/180. Benson Latin American Collection.
Tamalada (2003) by Carmen Lomas Garza.
IRIS giclée digital print on paper, 4/180. Benson Latin American Collection.

Born in 1948, much of Carmen Lomas Garza’s work reflects upon her formative years in Kingsville, Texas. Drawing on her experiences in a close-knit Mexican-American community, Garza’s work focuses on memories of everyday life with her family and her community.

In 2009, Garza was the featured artist for the Benson Latin American Collection’s annual ¡A Viva Voz! celebration of Latino culture where she talked about her life, her art and her influences — an event that was accompanied by an exhibition of 20 original serigraphs of her work.

Thanks in part to a generous donation by the Libraries’ own Linda Abbey and her husband Mark Hayward, the Benson was able to acquire those works of art in giclée, lithograph and serigraph form to join Lomas Garza’s archive as part of the permanent collections at the library.

Carmen Lomas Garza with Librarian Margo Gutiérrez.
Carmen Lomas Garza with Librarian Margo Gutiérrez.
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