All posts by Linda Abbey

Libraries Get NEH Funding from Partner Proposal

Photo of archivesAmong the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) recent announcement of $22.8 million in grants for 232 humanities projects in the second round of its grant awards this fiscal year was included funding provided to the Libraries as one of the recipients for the Texas Archival Resources Online’s (TARO) proposal the “Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO) to the 21st Century Collaborative Planning Project.

The NEH will provide $35,204 in direct funding for a Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Foundations grant to conduct strategic planning that will address researchers’ need for better intellectual access to TARO’s holdings. The Libraries, in partnership with the TARO Steering Committee and their respective institutions will use the funds to assist with the one-year collaborative planning, assessment and pilot testing project. The project will begin July 1, 2015.

TARO is a freely accessible platform for searching over 7,200 finding aids describing collections held by cultural heritage institutions in Texas. TARO has proven a rich resource for historians, documentarians, educators and students since its establishment in 1999, with participating institutions including the state’s larger repositories such as the Texas State Library and Archives, Texas A&M University, and Rice University, and smaller archives including the Old Jail Art Center and San Jacinto Museum of History, as well as over thirty other archives and libraries around the state.

In his announcement of the awards, NEH Chair William Adams said, “In the 50 years since NEH’s founding, the Endowment has supported excellence in the humanities by funding far-reaching research, preservation projects and public programs. The grants announced today continue that tradition, making valuable humanities collections, exhibitions, documentaries and educational resources available to communities across the country.”

According to Kelly Kerbow-Hudson, steering committee co-chair, “The award of the NEH planning grant is big news for TARO and its contributors — and it’s great news for the state’s archival researchers, as well.” She points out that the grant will provide the support necessary to plan for a significant update to the TARO online reference resource http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/index.html and create best practices to standardize existing finding aids.

The TARO Steering Committee — which includes representatives from repositories across the state — worked extensively to research for and prepare the grant proposal. Special thanks go to key contributors Amy Bowman of UT’s Briscoe Center for American History, Amanda Focke of Rice University’s Woodson Research Center, and Jennifer Hecker of UT Libraries.  A special thanks, as well, to additional Libraries staff involved in the process: Donna Coates, Minnie Rangel, Linda Abbey, Dr. Fred Heath as Project Director and Dr. Lorraine Haricombe as Project Director moving forward.

Blake Alexander (Feb. 4, 1924 – Dec. 11, 2011)

Blake Alexander

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Drury Blakeley Alexander, whose namesake Alexander Architectural Archive in the Architecture & Planning Library is the premier collection of architectural resources in Texas.

Blake was a champion for the education, documentation, and preservation of Texas’ architectural heritage. He was also a pioneer in recognizing the importance of archiving architectural records. The Alexander Architectural Archive grew out of his personal collection and stewardship. The resources he collected continue to play an important role in the restoration of many of Texas’ most important buildings and continue to support the education and scholarship of American architectural history.

To learn more about Blake’s life and legacy, please see:

In Memoriam

Hal Box, one of our Libraries Advisory Council members and a former Dean of the School of Architecture has passed away.  The University of Texas Libraries has lost a dear friend and advocate, and we join with our colleagues across the University in mourning his passing.

Among his many honors and awards, Hal was also recognized by the University of Texas; The Hal Box Endowed Chair in Urbanism was established at the university in 1999 and the Texas Exes Alumni Association bestowed on Box its highest honor, the Distinguished Alumnus Award, in 2003.

Memorial services are pending. Visit Box’s online memorial page.

Of Pioneers and Memories

iStock_000000153645XSmallDuring the hectic weekday morning routine most of us call normal these days, an obituary in the Austin American Statesman begged my attention. Sgt. Major Mary Katherine Steinocher died June 25th. I didn’t know her, but the picture of a young, smiling woman wearing her Women’s Army Corps uniform compelled me to put down my toasted bagel and read on.

In short, Steinocher was a young woman who enlisted in the Army’s WAC program in 1941 and retired in May 1964. Almost 24 years of military service was condensed into a brief sentence, a modest footnote: “She received many medals, awards, and decorations in the service of her country”. It seems to me Sgt. Steinocher was a pioneer, serving in the military during a time when it really didn’t know what to do with women wanting to serve their country.

It got me thinking about my grandmother, Louise Jackman Orner. She was a pioneer of another sort – a 1921 graduate of Oregon State University (OSU), She went on to become an associate professor of secretarial science at OSU, at a time when society didn’t really know what to do with women wanting professional careers. Another full and complete life, condensed into another brief sentence: “After teaching at Centralia Business College, she became an associate professor in Secretarial Science at Oregon State University, a position she held for 35 years”.

My family created a memorial scholarship at Oregon State to honor Louise. We all feel a connectedness to the institution that my grandmother loved so dearly. We also feel connected to the generations of students her scholarship has supported. I’ll even admit to becoming a bit undone this morning when revisiting the OSU website to see Grandma’s name among the many memorial scholarships noted. It’s as if she hasn’t really left us – her spirit and love of education continue on today, nearly 30 years to the day since her death.

My profession allows me the honor of talking with people who wish to memorialize their loved ones with a gift to the University of Texas Libraries. I tell them their gift will come back to them a thousand times over. I tell them it will keep the name and memories of their loved one fresh and new. If asked, I will tell them it is because of a memorial scholarship created in loving memory of my grandmother, a pioneer.

Plonsky Scores Trailblazer Award

plonsky_chris_2009_mugUT Women’s Athletic Director and incoming Libraries Advisory Council President Chris Plonsky is the recipient of the College Sports Information Directors of America’s (CoSIDA) 2010 Trailblazer Award.

According to the CoSIDA website, the Trailblazer Award is given “to an individual who is a pioneer in the field of sports information who has mentored and helped improve the level of ethnic and gender diversity within CoSIDA.”

Plonsky will receive her award at the CoSIDA convention in San Francisco on July 6.

Chris has served on the Libraries Advisory Council since 2006, assuming the role of Vice-President in 2007. She will take up the role of President in fall 2010 and will continue to advise the Libraries in their marketing, outreach and fundraising efforts.

You can read more about Plonsky’s award here, where you’ll find a great profile of her by former Longhorn Assistant Athletics Director and current sports broadcaster Bill Little.

Our congratulations to Chris on this much deserved honor.

Wanna buy an 8-track?

iStock_000010319628SmallA very timely article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed discussing endowment spending today. Do universities  “spend enough of their endowments for society’s benefit to justify the tax exemption they get”?  Senator Charles Grassley is pushing for legislation requiring universities to spend a minimum 5% of their endowment income annually. His solution is a one-size-fits-all answer to a complex situation that has evolved over many years.

The Libraries benefit from a modest but growing number of endowments.  But is our endowment portfolio big enough to continue to support the increasing costs of growing and maintaining world-class collections?  Not by a long shot.  Endowments for collection enhancement, electronic resources, and preservation activities play a key role in maintaining an academic library’s pivotal place in the lives of students, faculty, and researchers.

It isn’t all about the size of the endowment.  In the case of the Libraries, and for many other academic libraries in the US, the endowment’s specific spending guidelines can have a huge impact.  Continue reading

Yes, we’re all getting older – time to make (estate) plans

texlibris_estate_planningLast month the University’s Gift Planning unit conducted two estate planning seminars, geared towards women age 40+ who had made past gifts to the University.  Provided at no cost to the participants, and featuring local estate planning attorneys and specialists, these seminars were conceived as a way to present the concept of estate planning (and hopefully, subsequent estate gifts to the University) in a setting somewhat more relaxed than your normal estate attorney’s office.

In theory, an excellent idea, thoughtfully planned and carefully executed.  In reality, a surprisingly small turnout of women, a handful of men accompanying a few of them, and it seemed the attendance was trending more towards an older demographic.  I was surprised to see so few relatively young women in attendance.  And it got me to thinking about another trend I’ve noticed. Continue reading