Frank Lloyd Wright’s Posthumous Contribution: An Icon of a City

Plans for the redevelopment of Olin Park in Madison, WI from Frank Lloyd Wright’s work on the Monona Basin Project.

While searching for all of the items in Karl Kamrath’s Collection last semester, I was directly exposed to the vast depth and diversity of a successful architect’s personal library. From Alden Dow to Katherine Morrow to Richard Neutra, Kamrath’s collection spanned decades and encompassed elements of major movements and achievements in the 20th century.

While his collection contains some quintessential readings that were quite prolific (such as Louis Sullivan’s Kindergarten Chats and Other WritingsHassan Fathy’s Architecture for the Poor: An Experiment in Rural Egyptand Frank Lloyd Wright’s The Future of Architecture), there are also some limited publications of several design projects that Kamrath and his firm were associated with. As I sifted through special collections to find these professional reports, one caught my eye before I even noticed the Kamrath Collection stamp on the cover: The Monona Basin Project.

My interest directly stems from the report’s subject: a schematic master plan for the city of Madison, Wisconsin. As a University of Wisconsin graduate who spent five years in Madison, I was immediately intrigued by the possibility of being able to compare my visual of Madison with a plan dating back to 1967.

For anyone that’s either been a resident of the greater Wisconsin-Illinois area or happens to be a Frank Lloyd Wright buff, you know that Wright’s career began in Madison as a student at the University of Wisconsin. Though he never completed his engineering degree, he went on to realize many significant projects in Madison and the surrounding area, including the Robert M. Lamp House, Unitarian Meeting House, and Taliesin in nearby Spring Green, one of his most famous projects. However, Monona Terrace likely possesses one of the most interesting timelines of all of Wright’s works – and I’m here to share that story with you all!

You can continue reading the rest of this article by Architecture & Planning Library GRA Stephanie Phillips over at the Battle Hall Highlights blog.

Happily Buried in Music

A few of the 300+ postal bins of CDs from KUT.

Anyone who is a regular user of campus delivery for music deliveries from the Fine Arts Library will find great joy in news of a massive new acquisition of materials from a local Austin institution.

KUT-FM recently moved into their new KUT Public Media Studios, and in an effort to maximize their space, a decision was made to offload 40+ years of physical media. After a near fruitless effort to dispose of the items through a public purchase offering as required by state law, the collection was offered up for the Fine Arts Library — an offer which was quickly pounced upon by Libraries administrators.

FAL is now the proud repository of an additional 60,000 CDs (doubling the current circulating collection) and 4,000 vinyl records, all of which become accessible to the denizens of campus and visitors to the library…after, of course, an arduous effort to process the vast cache of materials is complete.

More about the acquisition here.

Poet Adds His Voice

The Ruth Stephan Poetry Collection

On a steamy day in September, renowned poet and fiction writer Ken Fontenot welcomed Sean O’Bryan, Manager of Preservation and Gifts Processing at the UT Libraries, and I into his downstairs apartment. The walls in the living room and hallway were lined with bookshelves packed with brightly-colored poetry, poetry journals, writing guides, and stacks of chapbooks. This is a poet’s home, and Fontenot wants these bound words to feed our next generation of poets. Ken Fontenot received the Texas Institute of Letters Best Book of Poetry Award for his 2013 In a Kingdom of Birds (Pinyon Publishing), his second book of poetry; he has also published translations of German poetry and a novel. The poetry began when he attended a reading series at Tulane, his alma mater, and seemed more possible when he made his way to the Ruth Stephan Poetry Collection at The University of Texas at Austin Libraries.

In the 1980s Fontenot moved from his home in New Orleans to Austin and to UT where he would receive an MA in German Language and Literature. While here, he found himself at the Flawn Academic Center, in a room adjacent to what was then the Undergraduate Library, a room full of poetry. “You go on filling your jar of hope with yet more hope,” he wrote in A Kingdom of Birds. Ruth Stephan founded the Poetry Collection at UT Austin in 1965, and Fontenot realized amidst these books and poetry reading events that he was a poet. The influence of the Poetry Collection stayed with him.

Last year he decided he wants his collection to make poetry possible for other potential poets and readers. His donation will add hundreds of volumes and contributes to an ongoing revitalization of the Ruth Stephan Poetry Collection, now on the 6th floor of the Perry-Castañeda Library, in collaboration with the English Department and the New Writers Project. Ken Fontenot, along with the UT Libraries, hopes that the sweet cacophony of verse he has added to the Ruth Stephan Poetry Collection will feed you, poet. Revel in the work of Rosemary Catacalos, Kay Ryan, Cyrus Cassells, Ai, Louise Gluck, Naomi Shihab Nye, Mary Oliver, W. S. Merwin, Rita Dove, Billy Collins, and many more. You’ll see these titles added to the shelves over the next couple of months.

Fontenot’s fiction towers still in his apartment on other shelf-lined walls. These books, he says, he is keeping as he writes his second novel.

– Kristen Hogan, English Literature and Women’s and Gender Studies Librarian