Heath Talks Assessment in Austere Times

 

Before Dr. Fred Heath joined the University of Texas Libraries as Vice Provost and Director, he had spent several years at Texas A&M with a team of faculty and research professionals developing and honing an assessment tool called LibQUAL+™. With a certain degree of prescience, his earlier work has given the Libraries a leg up in dealing with the economic downturn.

Dr. Heath took some time to discuss his experience and perspective on the vital role of assessment in building a library.

So, why do assessment?

Fred Heath: I think this pressure for accountability has always been part of the public sector where it’s really hard to measure bottom lines. If you’re going to succeed in advancing your program then you are going to have to have some structure that relates investments to outcomes, and there aren’t many tools to measure our “profits and losses” in the public sector. For several years we’d been searching and we found a tool called SERVQUAL that was used with great success in the private sector, and we also had a great relationship with the developers of that tool. We started noodling there, and it grew.

There were three young professors in the College of Business at Texas A&M – assistant professors at the time they started developing SERVQUAL – who needed a research protocol, and grew it into, perhaps, the most significant user satisfaction survey in that sector. It applied to everything from aircraft companies, to insurance, to restaurants. And one day we visited with the professor who was still there – the other two are now employed elsewhere around the world in higher education – and asked, “Do you think we can redirect SERVQUAL to the not-for-profit sector, specifically to education, and then even more specifically to libraries?” And we were really cautious, because it was a shameless emulation of what those three researchers were trying to do, but he was hugely supportive, open to the idea, and, in fact, all three of those developers have lent time to us over and again to help us build the tool that LibQUAL+™ became. Without them, without that beginning, I doubt we would’ve had the perspective and background ever to get it launched.

How important was it for the development of LibQUAL+™ to have faculty members as part of the development team?

FH: We could never have done this without the methodologists and the economists and the statisticians that we had on our side. And we, ourselves, were faculty in our own specialties, but not those skill sets. It was bringing all of those tools, all of that commitment, an emerging awareness of survey protocols in a nascent Web environment…we’d had no clue how we’d plan to do this on paper, and one of the methodologists said, “You know, I think we can do this on the Web pretty soon.” So, it took a village to build it; it took many different types of faculty to make it happen. Continue reading

TPA Giveaways Are Back – Season Subscription Contest

Last year, followers of Tex Libris and friends and followers of the Libraries Facebook page and Twitter feed got to participate in contests for tickets to events that were part of the Texas Performing Arts 2010-11 season.

We’re happy to say that we’ve partnered with TPA again for the 2011-12 season, and we’ll soon be kicking off the promotion with a pair of tickets to an as-yet-unspecified performance.

While you’re waiting for our first giveaway, enter TPA’s big opening contest for a season subscription (four pairs of tickets!) to upcoming performances.

And check back here often (or add us to your RSS feed) for more chances to win.

Don’t get between him and his Easter bunny

From the LA Library archives:

“Wrapped in Thought: Four-year-old Philip Ross finds ABC Easter Bunny more interesting than his guns and spurs. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Max Ross, 12605 Califa St., North Hollywood, he said he can’t read but ‘didn’t mind looking at pictures.’ Librarians at North Hollywood branch library said he is a frequent visitor.”

(via BoingBoing)

 

Science Study Break, Now With More Na’vi

The Life Science Library’s Science Study Break program will wrap up its season on Wednesday (4/13) with an examination of James Cameron’s most recent blockbuster Avatar.

Dr. Misha Matz of the School of Biological Sciences will analyze biological fact and fiction in the fantastic world of the film.

The program will be at 6 p.m. in Garrison Hall, Room 0.102. It is free and open to the public.

Pop culture and the academy collide as Science Study Break features relevant faculty and experts from The University of Texas at Austin discussing the reality and fantasy portrayed as fact in science-themed books, television and film. Past presentations have featured presentations on bioterrorism and its treatment in the Fox thriller 24, artificial intelligence gone wild in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the comic realities of Spider-Man and epidemiological models for the proliferation of zombies.

Science Study Break occurs twice each semester and is generously supported by the University Federal Credit Union.

UPDATE: You can view Matz’s Avatar presentation on the university’s YouTube channel. Thanks, Misha.

Thank you, Congressman.

Rep. Doggett with area student body presidents.

As the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office considers opening satellite offices to deal with a surplus of innovation across the country, various congresscritters are lining up to tout their respective districts as the ideal locations for the enterprise.

We’d expect no less from 25th Congressional District Representative Lloyd Doggett, and in making his argument for Austin as a potential future home for processing patents, the congressman pays The University of Texas and the Libraries (noting the McKinney Engineering Library) a tribute in making us part of his case for the project.

From the relevant text (emphasis added):

“Central Texas’s academic research sector is also very strong and would be an excellent partner as the USPTO seeks to enhance public engagement.  Of the top 250 R&D universities in the country, the universities in Texas earned the fourth largest number of patents.  The University of Texas flagship campus is in Austin and is home to 150 research units, exceeding $642 million in research spending as a Tier 1 research university (2009-2010), and is a major national leader among research universities with the fourth highest level of patent earnings in the country.  The University offers the only Master of Technology Commercialization degree program in the world, and UT Austin ranks in the top 10 in both Engineering and Computer Science.  UT Austin is also ranked in the Top 10 of research libraries and its McKinney Engineering Library is a PTO depository library.

It’s nice to know our leaders are paying attention.

All’s Fair for Research Week

Next week, anyone needing to see the value of research at the university need only to step foot on campus.

Beginning on Monday, April 11, and continuing through Friday, April 15, the hard work of students gets a bit more visibility as part of Research Week 2011, this year’s installment of the annual campus-wide celebration of undergraduate research and creative activity featuring a combination of existing programs plus events and activities, and highlighting the many research opportunities available to students.

As a part of our central role on campus to provide the informational foundation for research at the university, the Libraries will host our third annual All Libraries Fair on the Plaza at the Perry-Castañeda Library on Wednesday, April 13, from 11:30am-1:30pm. Representatives from each of the ten campus branch libraries will be on hand with games, activities and information related to the Libraries and their resources.

There will be juggling, contests, prizes and cotton candy, so come join the fun, learn a little and see the significance of research at your university.

(Special thanks to Mayank Aranke – Biochemistry, Social Work – who appears at 1:36 in the following video and makes a case for your libraries.)

¡A Viva Voz! Goes to the Movies

And…action!

The Benson Latin American Collection presents its ninth annual ¡A Viva Voz! at 7pm this Thursday featuring film producer Elizabeth Avellán, co-owner (with director Robert Rodriguez) and vice president of Troublemaker Studios.

Avellán co-founded Los Hooligan Productions with Rodriguez when the two began work on El Mariachi (1992) in 1991. She co-produced From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), Desperado (1995) and The Faculty (1998). In 2000, Los Hooligan became Troublemaker Studios, which has since generated such notable films as the Spy Kids franchise, Sin City (2005), the Rodriguez/Tarantino double-feature, B-Movie homage Grindhouse (2007), Predators (2010) and Machete (2010).

Avellán will discuss her work and rare position as a Latino woman in the traditionally male-dominated film business.

Charles Ramirez-Berg of the Department of Radio-Television-Film will make an introduction, and food will be provided by El Meson.

An exhibit of cinematic materials from Troublemaker Studios and Cine Las Americas as well as rare materials on the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema from the Benson’s extensive archival holdings will be on view at the Benson, as well.

Check out the trailer for Avellán’s latest production credit, just off its SXSW showing, Blacktino.

Tennessee at College

 

Playbill for The Garden Players production of "Cairo, Shanghai, Bombay" by Bernice Dorothy Shapiro and Tom Williams, July 12, 1935. Courtesy of the Harry Ransom Center.

For once, we’re pretty happy that a lack of space has become an issue on campus.

Thanks in no small part to the ridiculously extensive Tennessee Williams holdings at the Harry Ransom Center, the Fine Arts Library has gotten the chance to host an overflow exhibit of materials related to the HRC’s massive homage to the Southern Gothic playwright, “Becoming Tennessee Williams.”

The companion exhibit at FAL, “Tennessee Williams, the College Years” features a limited number of items from Williams’s time in the academy – both at the University of Missouri, Columbia, and at the University of Iowa – including photos, correspondence, manuscripts and more.

The exhibition opens today and runs through July 31 in the Roberts Reading Room at FAL, where it can be viewed Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and weekends from noon to 5 p.m.