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LIFT Announces Call for Proposals


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The Longhorn Innovation Fund for Technology (LIFT) is a fund of approximately $500,000 that is awarded by the Research & Educational Technology Committee (R&E) to innovative academic technology projects that leverage technology to improve quality of instruction, create a differentiator for attracting higher caliber students to the University, or to create a competitive advantage to the University in attracting sponsored research.

The R&E Committee recently announced the call for proposals for funding in fiscal year 2012-2013.  LIFT funding is intended to provide one-time seed money for innovative academic technology projects that leverage information technology in order to improve quality of instruction, create a differentiator for attracting higher caliber students to the University, or result in a competitive advantage to the University in attracting sponsored research.  Awards are generally in the range of $75,000 – $125,000.

Libraries, University Benefit from Dell Agreement

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The University’s latest agreement with Dell provides the highest level of discounts via the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) contract for any UT Austin Dell purchase regardless of quantity.

Discounts are now based on the total annual volume of UT Austin purchases rather than the number of units being purchased on an individual order, making prices lower regardless of the number of units ordered or the time of year of the purchase.

Given the large installed base of Dell computers at the Libraries, this agreement will be very helpful as we manage the life cycle of our technology resources.

Enterprise Data Storage Project Complete

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On April 2, Information Technology Services (ITS) launched their new “bulk storage” offering to our campus.  This service is significant because it represents the first occurrence of a service that has been designed for campus departments and specifically architected for “high availability” and recoverability within a UT Austin data center.

ITS purchased a little over 1 pedabyte (PB) of storage – that’s 1,000 terabytes (TB) for use by departments and it is sure to become an essential resource for the library.

The Libraries is already one of the largest customers in the ITS data center and this service will be one that we evaluate carefully before making substantial storage purchases in the future.

Benson a la Mexicana

When I first walked into the Benson Latin American Collection to do research during my graduate studies, I did not imagine that four years later my boss would ask me to travel to Mexico City to represent the Benson and University of Texas Libraries at an awards ceremony with the mayor of Mexico City and a luncheon hosted by the Libraries for Texas Exes in Mexico. And now, it has been a week since arriving back from Mexico City and I still cannot believe I did it. And I have not really recuperated from the journey. Oh, believe me, it was a wonderful trip, just way too fast and cut way too short.

David Block receives the Medalla 1808 from Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard.

When Dr. David Block received electronic word (in an e-mail) of the Benson being awarded the Medalla 1808, I don’t know if we all realized immediately what an honor it was. Then after an exhaustive search online to make sure David had not just received an e-mail from Ed McMahon suggesting “you may be a millionaire”, we began to see the reality of and the potential in receiving such an honor. Historically, the medal is presented on behalf of Mexico City to persons for significant contributions to the study and development of Mexican history and culture. And now, the Benson has become the first foreign institutional recipient of the medal.  Wow… Of course we all knew the importance of the Benson, but now Mexico City Mayor, Marcelo Ebrard would present us with an international honor to reinforce what we all know to be true.

Our Vice Provost Dr. Fred Heath and Director for Development Gregory Perrin knew this would be a wonderful opportunity to invite our alumni from Mexico City, and the surrounding cities, to attend the ceremony. They decided it would also be quite advantageous to host a luncheon following. And this is where I came in. Part of the role I play in working for the Libraries is as an event coordinator. I love it because of the opportunities of excitement that abound, meeting new people and creating a delightful atmosphere for the libraries’ constituent; although, a first trip to the interior of Mexico and hosting a lunch would definitely be something extraordinary. Continue reading

UT Libraries and data storage needs for the future

storage_imageAs more and more information goes digital, the questions around the storage of all this data grow ever more important. UT Libraries is working on that question through its participation in a key university-wide initiative: the ITS Central Data Storage project committee. As the Associate Director for Digital Initiatives, I represent UT Libraries on this committee, which is working to cost-effectively expand centralized data storage services for the whole campus.

First, a little background on digital storage: In 1991 the cost of a megabyte was about $13.00 and the largest drive you could buy held about 270 megabytes. Since then we have seen the cost of a megabyte decline steadily up till today when the average consumer can now purchase 1,058,576 megabytes (aka 1 terabyte) for $99.00, reducing the cost of 1 megabyte of storage to less than a penny.

So, how many megabytes does UT buy every year? Continue reading

Texas water researchers working with the Texas Digital Library

TDL.org stacked logoThis past month, the Texas Digital Library (TDL) and several prominent water researchers began the process of developing a new collaborative resource for sharing water data across the state of Texas. The Texas Water Digital Library (TWDL) will federate water research currently stored in dispersed databases and websites at various Texas universities. A model for the cooperative efforts of the Texas Digital Library, the TWDL will electronically harvest these resources from cooperating institutions (using a technology called OAI-ORE) and deposit them in a TDL-hosted DSpace repository. This federated repository will create a single place for researchers to search for water data from every part of the state: the Texas Water Digital Library. Continue reading

Conference at UT Austin to feature experts on digital libraries

tcdl-new-logo-mdThis spring, on May 17-18, the Texas Digital Library (TDL) will be hosting the 2010 Texas Conference on Digital Libraries (TCDL) at The University of Texas at Austin. In its fourth year, TCDL provides a forum for TDL members and others to explore issues related to digital libraries and digital scholarship.

The TCDL 2010 conference theme is Collaboration, and the conference program will be packed with experts speaking on issues of partnership and cooperation in the service of advancing scholarly communication.

The TDL is especially excited to announce its two keynote speakers for the event: Dr. Leslie Carr, of the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton, and Dr. Reagan Moore, from the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Continue reading

Illinois takes cue from Texas on electronic theses

texlibris_illini_vireoThey say good news travels, and the news about the Texas Digital Library’s Vireo application has made it all the way to Illinois, where the Fighting Illini are finding out what UT Austin already knows – that Vireo can make life easier for graduate colleges and libraries handling electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs).

The Texas Digital Library (TDL), headquartered at UT Libraries, is a multi-university consortium that provides shared digital services to institutions of higher learning in the state. UT Austin is a founding member of the organization.

The TDL developed the Vireo application to help graduate schools manage electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs), the digital versions of the documents that master’s and doctoral students must submit to obtain their degrees. In recent years, increasing numbers of universities have required students to submit ETDs in addition to (or in place of) paper copies. However, the tools for managing the unique workflow associated with ETDs – the approval process, for example, and the publication of ETDs in a digital repository – haven’t kept up with these changes in policy. Vireo was created to fill this need and is currently in use at UT Austin, as well as several other universities in the state. Continue reading

UT Digital Repository ranked among the world’s top institutional repositories

TDL.org stacked logoThe UT Digital Repository received some welcome recognition recently when it was ranked #50 in the Ranking Web of World Repositories’ list of the top 400 institutional repositories worldwide. We are excited to see that the repository, which is less than two years old, is already among the best.

The Ranking Web of World Repositories is an initiative of the Cybermetrics Lab, a research group that is part of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), the largest public research body in Spain. The group creates the rankings, Continue reading