The Birth of Chemistry

Annales de Chimie, Tome Premier. Paris, 1789. Octavo, 22cm. Mallet Chemistry Library.

Antoine de Lavoisier (1743-1794) was one of the founding fathers of the modern science of chemistry.  He and his contemporaries established a more quantitative, empirical method of inquiry grounded in physics and mathematics. In 1789, as the French Revolution was beginning, Lavoisier and his colleagues, including Claude-Louis Berthollet and Antoine-François Fourcroy, launched the first French chemical journal, Annales de Chimie. Despite the upheavals of the Revolution and Lavoisier’s own execution during the Reign of Terror, the Annales became a major component of the early literature of chemistry.

The establishment of a strong chemical research library was a high priority for the University’s first chemistry professors. Significant sums were spent on acquiring complete runs of major chemical journals. The first series of the Annales (volumes 1-96, 1789-1815) was purchased in 1914 for $325 – over $7,300 in 2014 dollars, and resides in the Mallet Chemistry Library.

Contributed by Mallet Chemistry Library Head Librarian David Flaxbart.

Thank You!

The students appreciate your support.
Students appreciate your support.

The University of Texas Libraries would like to thank alumni, friends, foundations and businesses for contributing over $7.6 million to the Libraries during the Campaign for Texas.

Your support provided funds for the purchase of significant items like the Carmen Lomas Garza Print Collection and the KUT Music Collection.  You helped us renovate and create new spaces for students like the Roberts Reading Room in the Fine Arts Library; the UFCU Student Learning Commons in Perry Castaneda Library and new presentation practice rooms in the Mallet Chemistry Library.

Your gifts created 11 new endowments that will transform the Libraries for decades to come.  Most notably are Blake Alexander Architectural Library Endowment, Holsey Literary Collection Endowment, and the Heath Libraries Tomorrow Fund.

We have made world-class acquisitions like the archive of Chicana author and cultural theorist Gloria Anzaldua; the papers of human rights activities Charles and Joyce Horman; the collection of architects, Herbert Miller Greene and Karl Kamrath; and the Romo Collection of Mexican American Art Prints.

Contributions have also created world-changing projects like the Human Rights Documentation Initiative and Primeros Libros.  With more than 3,300 gifts and nearly half of them from UT alumni, the Libraries have enhanced its collections, services, space and value to our university community.  Thank you!

Rallying the Next Generation of African Leaders

YALI participants on-site at PCL.

As the Business Librarian at UT Libraries I frequently work with entrepreneurs from the McCombs School of Business and sometimes from the Cockrell School of Engineering. For the first time this summer I had the honor of working with a group of young entrepreneurs from Africa.

The 25 attendees here at UT Austin were part of the 500 Mandela Washington Fellows for Young African Leaders Institute (YALI) selected from over 40,000 applications for this prestigious program. President Obama invited the group to the U.S. from Sub-Saharan Africa as part of his signature effort to invest in the next generation of global leaders. Twenty universities were selected to host the fellows. UT Austin chose the theme of Business & Entrepreneurship for its institute.

The UT Austin YALI Fellows are creating and/or growing businesses back home. Their interests are broad; women’s and children’s health initiatives, farming, training computer scientists, and translation services. One of the most inspirational companies is one that trains women incarcerated for prostitution to become fashion designers and tailors. The fashion company hires these women upon their release thereby improving the women’s situations and helping them stay out of prison.

Just like I would for students on our campus, I provided a business research workshop to the YALI group and coordinated with the UT Austin International Office to develop a course guide and a hands-on research workshop for these entrepreneurs. In the workshop we practiced search strategies and I introduced them to resources containing market research, economic, and demographic data.

At the end of their UT visit, the Fellows participated in a pitch competition in front of a three-judge panel of successful Austin entrepreneurs. I saw first-hand how they incorporated their research into their pitch for future funding. The judges asked tough questions about growth and sustainability. The Fellows handled the inquiry with aplomb and you could see the passion they all had for their projects.

To cap off the 6-week event all 500 Fellows attended a summit in Washington, D.C. where they met with Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama. At the summit President Obama announced the program was to be renamed the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders to honor Nelson Mandela. Not only is the program going to continue next year, but the President has also committed to double the number of participants to 1000 for the summer of 2016.

I hope that the University of Texas will be hosting again next year and that I have the opportunity and privilege to work with these global entrepreneurs as they go out and change the world!


A Poet in the Science Library

“Backmasking” by Harold Whit Williams.

One wouldn’t necessarily expect to find a poet in the stacks of a science library, but then again, creativity often occurs in the least anticipated of places.

The Life Science Library boasts among its staff a prize-winning poet, as Library Specialist Harold Whit Williams has garnered praise for his work, which is both a catalog of his experience as a musician, and reflective of his southern heritage. His most recent collection of poems, Backmasking, earned Williams the 2013 Robert Phillips Chapman Poetry Chapbook Prize from Texas Review Press, and his poem “Blues Dreams,” received the 2014 Mississippi Review Poetry Prize.

In some ways, it would seem to make perfect sense that Williams would understand the finer points of cadence and pentameter  — he’s also the guitarist for notable Austin pop band Cotton Mather.

Williams’ first collection of poetry, Waiting For The Fire To Go Out, was published by Finishing Line Press, and his work has appeared in numerous literary journals.

Whit kindly indulged a line of questioning about his poetry, his music and his life at the Libraries. 

When did you start writing poetry? Was it an outcropping of your music?

Harold Whit Williams: I’ve been writing poetry off and on since college days, but started giving serious attention to it, and publishing, now for about seven years.

Strange, but poetry is a totally separate thing to me from songwriting. As a guitarist first, my songs, or the guitar parts I play in Cotton Mather, happen musically first. Then lyrics come later. But with poetry, it’s all wordplay from the get-go, and the musicality in the words themselves tend to direct where I go in a poem.

Does the inspiration for poetry and music come from the same place, even though the jumping off point is different? Or are they driven by different urges? 

HWW: Good question. What makes me plug in an electric guitar and make loud horrendous noise has to come from a much different urge than the one making me get to a quiet place, alone, to jot down a poem. Continue reading