We hope the holiday break provided both a welcome respite from your studies and an opportunity to rejuvenate for the semester ahead.
You did a good job of breaking in the new Learning Commons at PCL and took full advantage of the new 24/5 hours last semester. We hope you’re finding these extensions of service and resources beneficial to your productivity, and we’re always listening to your suggestions for further improvements at the Libraries.
While you were away, Libraries staff used the period of reduced activity on campus to re-envision and renovate two familiar spaces to meet the expressed needs of our users, both of which opened at the beginning of the semester.
On January 20th, we celebrated the opening of a new Scholars Commons pilot on the ground floor space that previously housed the periodicals (now on Third Floor). The Scholars Commons will be a hub for research and serious scholarship within the PCL — a space for experimentation and scholarly inquiry, supporting interdisciplinary collaboration by fostering a dynamic intellectual environment.
And on January 25th, we join with partners from Student Success Initiatives, Natural Sciences, and Engineering to christen the new STEM Study Area in the UFCU Room at PCL. This space is intended to be used to provide instructor-led sessions and Sanger Center tutoring services to students enrolled in STEM gateway courses at the point of need, with the goal of improving student outcomes.
More changes will come in the near future, and, as always, we’ll continue to reimagine these UT Libraries with your help in order to make them the best they can possibly be.
While we’re apt to sound out the world-class general and distinctive materials maintained by the Libraries, these resources are just a single galaxy in a greater universe of extraordinary collections across UT campus.
In the first of its kind accounting, the University of Texas Press has just released a massive assemblage of the rare, unique and exceptional collections that reside on the Forty Acres in the form of The Collections, a necessarily significant tome documenting the various holdings — recognizable and not so — from around UT.
Represented in the book are Libraries mainstays such as the Benson Latin American Collection, the Alexander Architectural Archive, the PCL and Walter Geological Map Collections and the Historical Music Recordings Collection, as well as highlights from discrete collections across the branches.
The book features hundreds of items from more than 80 collections campus-wide, covering a range of subject areas: archaeology, ethnography, fine and performing arts, rare books and manuscripts, decorative arts, photography, film, music, popular and material culture, regional and political history, natural history, science and technology.
Edited by Andrée Bober with the support of more than 350 staff from across the university, The Collections features a foreword by UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves and a historical introduction by Lewis Gould, professor emeritus of American history, whose essay traces the formation of the collections and acknowledges many people whose visions are manifest in these material resources.
The Scholars Commons, a UT Libraries pilot initiative introducing new spaces and approaches to research and data lifecycle support at UT Austin, opens on Wednesday, January 20 at noon. Located on entry level of the Perry-Castañeda Library (PCL), it features space for silent study, a Data Lab, an exhibit area and a Graduate Landing Spot with a suite of study rooms exclusively for graduate student use.
Aesthetically compelling and functional in design, the Scholars Commons is a dynamic intellectual environment for scholars at all levels engaged in serious study. It is a gateway to a suite of services provided by the UT Libraries and campus partners to facilitate academic inquiry and scholarship, connecting scholars with librarians and with each other. UT Libraries subject librarians are available by appointment to consult on resources, scholarly publishing, research data management, and digital scholarship, and will provide workshops along with other experts from Learning Sciences and the University Writing Center.
Last spring, UTL librarians conducted focus groups with graduate students and faculty to learn more about their research and writing needs, and received survey input from over 1,100 graduate students and faculty. The Scholars Commons bring to life the spaces and services informed by these members of the UT Austin research enterprise.
The silent study area of the Scholars Commons offers a tranquil place for scholars to focus fully and reflect on their work without distractions. Researchers will be close to UTL’s robust collections and the expertise of service providers at the Research Help & Check Out desk. Study tables, comfortable chairs, and abundant outlets make it easy to drop in for a few minutes or stay for an entire afternoon of productive work. This area will be a unique UTL space on campus in that it is designated as a completely silent study area.
Graduate students wanted a place for networking with their colleagues that would be flexible for a variety of needs and the Graduate Landing Spot in the Scholars Commons is a home for graduate students within PCL. Students can swipe their UT ID cards to enter a suite adjacent to the silent study area comprised of four technology-equipped group study rooms that may be reserved online, a lounge for heating and enjoying meals, and a general purpose study and networking area. This space is open to graduate students of all disciplines.
Part of the pilot will include an increased focus on digital scholarship and the digital humanities. A Data Lab with 15 dual-boot iMacs allows UTL to offer access to high-end statistical analysis software, like SPSS and SAS, for the first time. The Lab can accommodate small classes and library workshops. Faculty interested in bringing a class to the lab to use the software can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Scholars Commons initiative will also highlight and promote UT scholarship in the form of events and rotating exhibits. The first exhibit in the space, Crafting Art and Geology: The Publications of Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy (1877-1947), was curated by Dr. Janice Leoshko from the Department of Art and Art History and Department of Asian Studies. The Scholars Commons will also host lectures and seminars to share the world-class research that is being done at UT.
The Scholars Commons is a pilot project. Librarians and UTL staff will be soliciting feedback from users and taking note of the ways that scholars use the space, including what works and what doesn’t. Come by PCL for the opening event or to investigate the Scholars Commons to find your place for exploration and innovation within the Libraries.