Last week, the Libraries hosted “Beyond Barriers: The Community’s Role in Sustaining Diversity,” a panel featuring state and local civic, education and library leaders for an evening of dialogue. Our goal was simple: provide a platform for discussing how these institutions can work together to foster and sustain equity in a diverse society. I was pleased to moderate this conversation which included the university’s Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement Gregory Vincent and Austin Mayor Steve Adler, as well as my professional colleagues American Library Association President Julie Todaro and Texas Library Association President Ling Hwey Jeng. The discussion was broad-ranging and vigorous, addressing both personal experiences with race and participant perspectives on social issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Mayor Adler’s efforts in launching a framework to address institutional racism in the city of Austin provided the catalyst for this event, but libraries — by virtue of their mission and nature — have long served as a neutral space for community discussions of diversity. Libraries serve diverse communities. Libraries offer information without bias to opinion. Libraries provide resources and services to those without access elsewhere.
Libraries, though, haven’t necessarily highlighted their contributions to social equality and inclusion, because it’s simply part of what they do to serve the public. We hope that the platform provided by this event will be a first step toward embedding the UT Libraries as a participant in larger efforts to build more equitable systems for the community.
Engaging in the conversation is a good first step, but we need to consider playing a larger role to underscore our value as contributors to solutions. While libraries may not be able to stand alone to fix the problems we share as a community, we can certainly be partner agents of change for a better, more equitable Austin.
March 7, 1884. This is the date of the first documented book loan. It took place in the Old Main Building library the day after the appointment of an assistant librarian had been confirmed by the faculty.
UT Libraries has changed to serve the Forty Acres needs over the course of 133 years. It is because of your generosity we are able to adapt. The result from our 40 for Forty campaign is an astonishing $41,473 from 204 gifts. I am proud to report that we doubled our donations compared to last year.
Support flowed in to foster innovation and technology within UT Libraries, to build and digitize our collection materials so they may be shared with the world, to support scholarships for our student workers and train the next generation of librarians.
Building the 21st century library takes time and investment. We are grateful to have friends of the library so we can take risks and answer campus needs. Thanks to you, we can write UT Libraries next chapter. I cannot wait to show you.
Welcome to our incoming class and welcome back to our returning students!
It is with much excitement that I invite you into the many UT Libraries facilities across campus and also online. While you were gone, we have updated our spaces, hired several new colleagues, installed new technologies to help orient you about our spaces, events and collections in the Perry-Castañeda Library, the largest library on campus. At UT Libraries’ nine facilities you will find professionals with distinctive expertise committed to assist you in your scholarly work. In the PCL you will find state of the art technology rich classrooms, gender neutral bathrooms, the University Writing Center, Stem Study spaces and the Scholars Commons for quiet study. Just steps away from the new and vibrant pedestrian walkway on Speedway, the PCL is already open 24/5 starting on this first day of class.
In the Doty Fine Arts Building, the new 3900 sq. ft. Foundry in the Fine Arts Library will officially open on September 7. In the meantime you are invited to check out the video wall, the 3D printers, sound recording studio and more to support hands-on learning for the entire UT community.
Great libraries make great universities, and we will continually strive to make ourselves and our university greater, because all that starts here, changes the world — one student, one faculty member, one researcher, one mind at a time.