In April, 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.
This June, the Libraries will be ramping up efforts in the area of digital humanities by hosting an immersive, hands-on one-week institute for people interested in getting involved in the burgeoning field.
HILT — Humanities Intensive Learning + Teaching — took place previously at the University of Maryland and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and is this year heading to UT. The Libraries has played a key role in bringing this learning opportunity to campus and will host HILT classes and events in the recently renovated Learning Commons in the Perry-Castañeda Library.
Nine courses, taught by nationally-recognized experts, will introduce a national cohort of participants to a wide variety of digital humanities and digital scholarship tools, methodologies, approaches and considerations.
Following HILT, the university is hosting the “DH@UT” Pop-Up Institute, a series of planning sessions involving librarians, faculty, researchers and other members of the campus community who want to confer and consult with experts from HILT on specific ideas for digital humanities and digital scholarship projects.
The Pop-Up Institute — one of three in an initial foray sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research — will provide opportunities to develop grant proposals for support from sponsors such as the National Endowment for the Humanities and Institute of Museum and Library Services, and to develop an organized research unit proposal for an Institute for Digital Scholarship at the university.
Both HILT and the Pop-Up Institute will foster scholarship, interdisciplinary community-building and collaboration here on campus and across the spectrum of disciplines and institutions represented at HILT.
The Libraries currently supports digital humanities and digital scholarship with software and tools, and through consultations, workshops and course-related instruction. Staff are constantly expanding expertise in these areas to provide individualized, experience-based project and research support. HILT is an exciting opportunity that will enable many Libraries subject specialist liaison librarians to develop new skills, and the Pop-Up Institute offers new opportunity for Libraries staff to partner with faculty in foundational efforts to digitally evolve research, teaching and learning at UT Austin.
A full description of HILT 2017 courses is available on the registration site, and an inventory of digital humanities work being done at UT Austin is available on the web pages describing the Pop-Up Institute: https://sites.utexas.edu/utdh/
In 1928, the city of Austin adopted a plan contracted by a Dallas urban planning firm that effectively segregated the city’s African American and white populations.
Nearly ninety years later, the effects of that decision were still being experienced by minority populations in the city as evidenced in a study by the University of Toronto that showed Austin-Round Rock as the most economically segregated large metro area in the country.
Last November, Austin Mayor Steve Adler announced the formation of a task force that would try to address facets of a community-wide problem by assessing the effects of institutional racism on issues of equity in the city. The resulting committee of business and civic leaders, community activists, educators and law enforcement officials was charged with developing an action plan to address institutional racism and issues of economic and racial disparity across the city’s demographic and geographic landscape to provide city leaders a framework to systematize solutions.
The university itself has recently experienced sometimes newsworthy incidents of bias and intolerance that have encouraged calls from the community to address inequality and privilege on campus. Administrators have responded with both assurances and new policies intended to engender an environment of inclusivity and tolerance across a diverse, global population.
Libraries have traditionally served as a sanctuary from dogmatic attitudes where a currency of knowledge provides a bridge for reasoned debate and discussion on opposing viewpoints. How then can institutions where the rational exchange of ideas is a norm apply its experience to influence or contribute to a larger dialogue on issues of diversity, equality and inclusivity?
Austin Mayor Steve Adler will join UT Libraries Director Lorraine Haricombe along with UT Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement Gregory Vincent, AISD Board of Trustees Paul Saldaña, and American Library Association President and Austin Community College Library Services Dean Julie Todaro, for a broad-ranging discussion on the impact of inequality in local communities and how core institutions of government and education can work together to implement solutions to create a better society for all. Topics will include:
The unique relationship between the university and city of Austin, and how that relationship influences concepts of equality in the area.
The respective roles of the university and libraries in fostering inclusivity across the shifting demographics of a city experiencing a period of substantial growth.
How K-12 education can overlap with institutions of higher education to create opportunities for underserved populations.
Efforts to promote information literacy as a means to combat cultural/social misperceptions.
Ways of addressing institutionalized racism in civic and educational systems.
Today’s college students face a daunting financial landscape due to a variety of factors that include rising tuition. A quick primer on the current outlook reveals some distressing data:
$1.26 trillion in total U.S. student loan debt
44.2 million Americans with student loan debt
Student loan delinquency rate of 11.1%
Average monthly student loan payment (for borrower aged 20 to 30 years): $351
Median monthly student loan payment (for borrower aged 20 to 30 years): $203
The lack of financial literacy, sometimes called financial illiteracy, can negatively impact a graduate’s earning potential, job opportunities and even housing options after they leave college. The Libraries are hosting Professor Robert Duvic of the McCombs School of Business for a discussion of ways to navigate the minefield of financial management during the transition to adulthood and independent responsibility.
“Got Debt? The Importance of Being Financially Literate” will attempt to guide students through basic money management skills such as living within a budget, handling credit cards, and managing student loan debt. Students will learn about resources that are available to aid them in overcoming real life financial decisions.
In addition to the lecture, the Office of Financial Aid offers courses in money management and financial aid called Bevonomics as part of a national and local effort to provide free resources to students.
Professor Duvic is a 2011 recipient of the Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award, given by the University of Texas Board of Regents to recognize faculty members at the nine University of Texas System academic institutions who have demonstrated extraordinary classroom performance and innovation in undergraduate instruction. He has also twice received The Hank and Mary Harkins Foundation Teaching Excellence Award for Effective and Innovative Teaching in Undergraduate Classes from the McCombs School of Business, among other prestigious university awards. Dr. Duvic’s areas of research are corporate capital budgeting, international corporate financial management and international foreign exchange markets. He is a Major (retired) in the United States Army Reserve and served with the Americal Division in the Republic of Viet Nam. His military decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with two oak leaf clusters and the Purple Heart.
After a frenetic summer of construction, the new maker space at the Fine Arts Library — The Foundry — opened to great fanfare (literally) on September 7.
More than 300 attendees were welcomed to the renovated area on the main floor of FAL with a flourish of horns by the FivE Euphonium Quartet — as well as other performances by Butler School of Music students and director Jerry Junkin — and remarks by Vice Provost Lorraine Haricombe, College of Fine Arts dean Douglas Dempster and Provost Maurie McInnis.
FAL staff and students provided demonstrations of the new tools and technology that inhabit the space, and the centerpiece video wall projected examples of creative work produced by art and design students from across campus.
Guests had the opportunity to see the 3-D printers, a carver, sewing and embroidery machines, and MFA student Jon Haas provided a hologram projection onto a large model of the UT Tower to the delight of onlookers.
The opening attracted interest from around the university community, as well as area residents, donors and local media.
With the space completed, efforts to train staff and student assistants on the technical particulars of the new equipment and the development of training materials and video tutorials for patrons is well underway. The space is expected to be fully functional by the end of October, and the wait begins to see how students will use the space for creativity and innovation.
All photos by Lawrence Peart, provided by the College of Fine Arts.
As the world grows larger and closer at the same time, how do we ensure that we grasp the opportunities for sharing knowledge in ways that precipitate the ideas and innovation that will the global community?
Open access has been put forth as at least part of the solution to democratize information and expand knowledge through a lowering of barriers to access.
So what is open access? According to the statement of the 2002 Budapest Open Access Initiative: “By open access, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search or link to the full text of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software or use them for any other lawful purpose….” Scholarly Communications Librarian Colleen Lyon has provided a more lengthy explanation of the idea at the Open Access blog.
Vice Provost Lorraine Haricombe came to the UT Libraries with a set of informed priorities for expanding the campus understanding of the concept of open access. Having developed a comprehensive strategy for the libraries at the University of Kansas — spearheading the effort to make it the first public university in the U.S. to adopt a campus-wide OA policy — she’s brought a reserve of energy and ideas to Austin to convert open agnostics to the cause.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that there are some nascent allies on the Forty Acres as the university investigates flipped classrooms and distance learning opportunities, and to that end, the Libraries have joined forces with Texas Learning Sciences to establish a year of awareness-building on concepts of open access with the hope of generating some grassroots momentum toward a campus-wide embrace of open practices.
The “Year of Open” kicked off in September with BYU adjunct faculty and co-founder of Lumen Learning David Wiley, who provided a promising overflow crowd with a high level explanation of open access and discussed the rationale for moving from a resource ownership model to the shared model that is at the heart of the open content movement. Wiley helped develop Lumen Learning as an open access advocacy organization dedicated to increasing student success and improving the affordability of education through the adoption of open educational resources by schools, community and state colleges, and universities. Video of Wiley’s presentation is available for viewing at the Texas Learning Sciences “Year of Open” page.
On November 5, the second “Year of Open” event will feature David Ernst, Chief Information Officer in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota, as well as Executive Director of the Open Academics Textbook Initiative — a program developed to improve higher education access, affordability and success for all students through the use of open textbooks. Ernst created and manages the Open Academics textbook catalog — a single source for faculty to find quality openly licensed textbooks — and he and his colleagues are also developing a toolkit to help other institutions interested in starting their own open textbook initiative on campus. He’ll talk to attendees about how the adoption of open textbooks can help overcome the impediments of access and cost to improve student success outcomes.
After the holiday break, the “Year of Open” continues with events in the spring, including talks by Georgetown University professor and Executive Director of Georgetown’s Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship Randy Bass (February), and Bryan Alexander (April), senior fellow at the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE), as well as a panel on open access and the future of scholarly communication, also tentatively scheduled for April 2016. Check back with the Libraries calendar for coming details on these and other “Year of Open” events.
The Libraries held a Kick-off event on September 16 to share design renderings of a new academic work space in the Perry-Castaneda Library called the Scholars Commons that will be piloted on entry level starting early next year.
My colleagues and I had the great opportunity to welcome attendees into an empty room behind yellow paper-covered windows to share a “before” glimpse of what the UT Libraries hopes will become a favorite place on campus for graduate students and scholars.
Scheduled to open in January 2016, this “third space” for serious study is a pilot project to test services and different types of spaces.
The Scholars Commons initiative is comprised of 3 main areas:
silent study space,
a Data Lab, and
a Graduate Landing Spot, with reservable media-equipped rooms, a lounge and a break room.
Design development for the space was informed by input from graduate student and faculty focus groups and a survey with over 1,200 respondents conducted last spring. Additional insights came from the Graduate Student Assembly (GSA), the Graduate Student Writing Group and Graduate Student Services within OGS. The design was created by Harmony Edwards-Canfield of E+MID (Edwards + Mulhausen Interior Design), also responsible for several successful recently completed PCL projects.
Situated opposite the new glass-walled Media Lab, in what was formerly the Periodicals Room and the adjacent office suites that housed the Research and Information Services department, the Scholars Commons is tangible, visible evidence of support for serious students and scholars.
The materials in that space were relocated elsewhere within PCL, and the staff relocated to a UT Libraries office suite in the new Learning Commons, next to the University Writing Center. As with space used to create the Learning Commons, the Scholars Commons project represents intentional repurposing of staff space for student use.
The office suite closest to the PCL lobby will host speech center services provided by the Sanger Learning Center and research consultations in media-equipped meeting rooms with UT Libraries librarians. When not reserved for consultations, the rooms will be available for group study use by students.
Subject specialist librarians, or liaison librarians, already work one-to-one or in small groups with students and faculty to advise on literature reviews, research paper resources, data needs and other aspects of the research process and lifecycle, including publishing. These refreshed rooms will expand existing consultation space.
The large room that once housed the current periodicals and reference materials will become silent study space. And the office suite in the back of that room will be a dedicated Graduate Landing Spot for group study and informal community building.
The Scholars Commons will also offer programming, including salon events with featured speakers, research presentations and exhibit space. In brief, the pilot focuses on real-life needs, real-world challenges, research and relationships.
Kick-off participants enjoyed locally-sourced refreshments and live music by Maxwell’s Daemons, a celebratory nod to the soon-to-be-silent zone for scholarly endeavor.
Brianna Frey, an Architecture graduate student in attendance, expressed that the quality and amenities of a study area are important because productivity stems from the ability to focus. “Additionally, it is important, especially because my field has a lot of group work, to have collaborative spaces in study areas” Frey told the Daily Texan. The pilot will offer both options.
Monitor this blog and UT Libraries social media outlets for more details as the January reveal approaches.
Last week, the Texas Exes Dallas Chapter hosted a reception featuring Dr. Lorraine Haricombe, Vice Provost and Director of University of Texas Libraries.
Lorraine shared her highest priorities to:
Strengthen UT Libraries core mission to support UT’s mission of teaching, research and learning in new and creative ways.
Fill key positions to align with new roles for libraries in teaching, learning and in the digital environment and to expand collaborative partnerships on campus (and beyond) and re-purpose prime real estate in our libraries to meet the expectations of 21st century learners.
Position UT Libraries to help transform teaching, learning and research at the University through open access to ensure that the ground breaking research conducted at our University will reach beyond the Forty Acres, nationally and globally.
To close, Lorraine reminded everyone, “supporting the Libraries has the potential to touch the lives of every student, staff and faculty member to ensure that what starts here really does change the world.”
Looking forward, UT Libraries plans to partner with Texas Exes Chapters across the country to host similar events that showcase the work being done at UT. If you are interested in hosting a similar event, please contact Gregory Perrin.
Doing research in a library can be an adventure in serendipitous discovery. For Dr. Denise Spellberg, Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin, an unexpected search result was the impetus for a research project that resulted in her acclaimed book, Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders.
Dr. Spellberg shared this recollection—along with other fascinating insights from her research—at the Hamilton Book Awards Author Showcase and Reception, which was held at the Perry-Castañeda Library last Friday. Dr. Spellberg’s book was the 2014 grand-prize winner of the Robert W. Hamilton Book Award.
With presentations nearly as diverse as the PCL’s collection, each faculty author gave the audience an introduction to the themes and motivations that define and drive their research. Both Dr. Lawler and Ms. Lowery spoke of their passion—for clean water and the craft of wig creation, respectively—while Dr. Li described how his experiences in China and the United States allowed him to analyze modern Chinese historical writing. Dr. Spellberg recounted how the discovery of playbill from a 1782 performance of Voltaire’s Mahomet in Baltimore led her to research the role of Islam in early American history.
The University Co-op has sponsored the Hamilton Book Awards since 1997. Winners are determined by a multidisciplinary committee appointed by the Vice President for Research at UT Austin, and the prize is awarded each October. The Hamilton Book Awards Author Showcase and Reception is an extension of the partnership effort by the Co-op and University of Texas Libraries to foster and promote faculty research on campus.
This well-received inaugural Showcase and Reception event was planned by School of Information graduate student and Ask a Librarian intern Katherine Kapsidelis, who graduates this May.
Spring 2015 has been an exciting semester at the Fine Arts Library (FAL). We have hosted a record number of events — 13 to be exact. They’ve included exhibit receptions, lectures, book readings, concerts, and performances. The events for this week are particularly novel as we have opened our space to the Department of Theatre and Dance’s Cohen New Works Festival.
During the Fall semester, an exuberant student by the name of Mahalia Dinglasan approached Beth Kerr, Theatre/Dance Librarian and I about the possibility of setting a play that she was proposing at the Fine Arts Library. The story is set in a library and, thinking outside the box, she thought the Fine Arts Library would make a great venue. As I am eager to activate the Fine Arts Library spaces and engage with our audiences and patrons in new and innovative ways, I was excited for the Fine Arts Library to participate in the Festival.
A few weeks after we agreed to host the performance, Mahalia began working on casting her play. She asked Beth if she would be interested in playing Nan the librarian in the play. Beth declined as she is a theatre person but her role has always been behind the scenes. Mahalia then defaulted to me. I thought to myself that I have never been asked to do anything so unusual as a professional librarian and I may never be asked to do anything like it again. As I am one for new experiences, I was excited to say yes.
Monday evening was opening night of Emanation. What a fantastic journey I have been on over the last few months! The students in the company have taught me so much about acting, about confidence, about patience, about hard work, about respect, about community, about myself.
The show runs Tuesday 4/14 at 8:30pm, Wednesday 4/15 at 8:30pm, and Friday 4/17 at 7pm. Tickets are sold out but they are letting walk-ups attend as space is available. If you are interested in experiencing library space in a whole new way, I would recommend heading over to the Fine Arts Library for one of the performances. I don’t think you will be disappointed (unless you don’t get in!).