Benson Hosts Junot Díaz

Junot Díaz visits LLILAS Benson

On Monday, September 23, Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Díaz stopped by the Benson Latin American Collection as part of his tour of UT before his keynote appearance at the Texas Institute for Literary and Textual Studies: Reading Race in Literature and Film.

Díaz and a group of UT faculty gathered around the seminar room table where archivist Christian Kelleher had laid out some of the Benson’s treasures on display. These included some of the usual suspects, such as the Relaciones Geográficas (pintura maps from the first census of New Spain, dating back to 1577), the papers of the renowned Chicana theorist Gloria Anzaldúa, and the original manuscript of Rayuela by Argentine author Julio Cortázar.

Díaz views Benson special collections items.

Díaz’s visit was also a great opportunity to pull out some of the Benson’s lesser known gems, such as our collection of rare books and maps from and about the Dominican Republic, and share our Latino comics collection with a fellow comic book lover.

T-Kay Sangwand is the Human Rights Archivist for the Human Rights Documentation Initiative.

(Cross-posted from the Benson Latin American Collection.)

 

A Bird in the Hand

Over the summer, we had the good fortune of a particular inquiry that made its way to our Ask A Librarian service from a person looking for some answers that they deemed only a librarian might be able to provide.

That inquiry came from noted author and UT alum Sarah Bird, who while not penning her next novel, or writing a column for Texas Monthly, or contributing to any number of other publications, or even writing a screenplay…still has time to be a strong public voice for libraries in general, and the University of Texas Libraries specifically.

At the time, Bird was working on an article for Alcalde — the Texas Exes alumni publication — in which she was to detail the significance of the collections at UT to her work. She came to us looking for some examples to use in the article, and we did our best to assist with her needs.

It was a short time after the publication of that article — “My Life in the Stacks” — in the September/October issue of Alcalde that we were contacted by a producer from the Longhorn Network with a request to provide a spokesperson for the Libraries to be interviewed for a piece they were filming on Sarah Bird to take place in our very own Life Science Library. This was to be a segment on the recently launched LHN program “The Alcalde”…a half-hour television complement to the print publication.

As a result, the LHN expanded their segment on Sarah Bird to include the Libraries as a major component of the show.

It’s amazing what sort of impact a single happy patron can make.

Sticks and Stones

Catholic school students burn thousands of comic books in Binghamton, New York (1948).

One would think that we’ve evolved enough as a society to move beyond the sort of censorship that has marked the darker periods of our history.

One would be wrong.

Last Tuesday, the Randolph County Board of Education in North Carolina voted 5-2 to remove Ralph Ellison’s masterwork The Invisible Man from the shelves of its school libraries.

The book is one among a much larger list of works that with depressing reliability have been prohibited from consumption by readers.

Next week is Banned Books Week. Sigh.

Well, because the First Amendment still sees regular challenges, the Libraries and the Department of English have teamed up to have a public discussion about the state of censorship in the Lone Star State.

Texas Banned Books: Questions and Answers” (TXBBQ&A) will be an interactive roundtable discussion about the real, relevant state of censorship in Texas. The conversation will center on Texas schools and values, books in prison, freedom of the press and the right to read.

Maley Thompson of the Department of English will moderate the discussion among five distinguished panelists:

The event is free and open to the public, and all voices are welcome.

More info here.

Engineering Nature

What do the traditional academic fields of architecture, fashion, sports, engineering, biology, chemistry and military science all have in common?

The answer: they all share research interests in design and implementation of high tech textiles. This growing area includes biomimicry, embedded medical sensors, wearable electronics, camouflage, prosthetics and much, much more that will impact all our lives.

Because engineering plays an important underlying role in various aspects of technology, the Engineering Library has stepped up its collecting interests to include materials that specifically relate to this new era of high tech fashion and textile design.

To learn more about this fascinating field, use the Libraries’ scOUT tool to search for books and Academic Search Complete for new articles, as well as any of our specialized databases on how fashion and textile design is changing.

One of our favorite recent articles concerned developing a way to mimic the camouflage abilities of squid skin in fabric. So think of this the next time you eat calamari—there is more than good taste to this animal.

Below are some examples from our collections that show how this new area will impact all of our lives and demonstrate how the Libraries are keeping abreast of the brave new world of textiles.

Arduino Wearables [electronic resource] by Olsson, Tony.

Flexible composite materials : in architecture, construction and interiors, René Motro (ed.).

Textile futures : fashion, design and technology by Quinn, Bradley.

Bio-inspired engineering by Jenkins, C. H.

Bioinspiration and biomimicry in chemistry. [electronic resource] : reverse-engineering nature by Swiegers, Gerhard.

(Contributed by Susan Ardis, Head Librarian, McKinney Engineering Library)

Wait – a Library Isn’t Just a Library?

Many students perceive a library solely as place to read, study, or perform research for their school-assigned projects. As an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I shared this sentiment; I rarely encountered projects in my specific courses that required me to do extensive research, and so the stacks that surrounded me while I studied and wrote papers went largely unnoticed.

Now, as a first-year UT graduate student and Graduate Research Assistant at the Architecture & Planning Library, I feel like I am getting a second opportunity to explore the riches that lie within the walls of a library. In some ways, I almost feel like many of the undergraduates using the library for the first time: in awe and slightly overwhelmed at the sheer amount of information that’s accessible. How had I never come across or searched on my own for a goldmine like this before? Continue reading