Category Archives: Awards

Alicia Niwagaba Wins TDL Graduate Student Excellence Award

Alicia Niwagaba, photo: Kira Matica
Alicia Niwagaba, photo: Kira Matica

Alicia Niwagaba, graduate research assistant at the Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America (AILLA), was awarded the Graduate Student Excellence Award by the Texas Digital Library (TDL). She accepted the award during the Texas Conference on Digital Libraries on May 17. Niwagaba is a recent graduate of the Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS) program at the UT School of Information.

During her time at AILLA, Niwagaba has worked on developing an open educational curriculum designed to teach language documentation researchers how to organize and arrange their materials and metadata to facilitate their ingestion into a digital language archive like AILLA. This work is supported by the National Science Foundation under grant BCS-1653380, Transforming Access and Archiving for Endangered Language Data through Exploratory Methodologies of Curation.

Alicia Niwagaba, photo: Susan Kung
Alicia Niwagaba, photo: Susan Kung

Niwagaba is a key member of the project team, which additionally consists of AILLA manager Susan Kung and AILLA language curator J. Ryan Sullivant. “Niwagaba contributes valuable insight gained from her training in libraries and digital archives to improve the quality of the curriculum content and to incorporate literature and viewpoints that would not have been considered otherwise,” says Kung. The curriculum she is helping to develop will be taught as a weeklong course at the Institute on Collaborative Language Research (CoLang) at the University of Florida, June 18-22, 2018. Thereafter, the curriculum will be available as an open-access educational resource on AILLA’s website.

During her time at AILLA, Niwagaba developed a series of educational video tutorials about language archiving. These are designed to supplement the written curriculum or to stand alone as individual, shareable resources. Some of these engaging videos have already been widely shared throughout the language documentation community. This includes two that are available on YouTube: Language Metadata in AILLA and Filenaming.

Filenaming video created by Niwagaba (YouTube)
Filenaming video created by Niwagaba (YouTube)

AILLA manager Kung is grateful for Niwagaba’s contribution to the archive’s work, calling her “a critical member of AILLA’s curriculum development team.” Kung adds that Niwagaba “brings unique insight and perspective to the work that AILLA does. In fact, her efforts on this project have improved the level and convenience of service that AILLA is able to provide to our important stakeholders, the language documenters who entrust their precious, irreplaceable language materials to this repository. We are delighted that Alicia Niwagaba has won this award.”

View the Texas Digital Library awards announcement.

Jennifer Isasi

Jennifer Isasi to Join LLILAS Benson as CLIR Fellow for Data Curation

LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections is pleased to announce that Jennifer Isasi, PhD, will join the staff as CLIR Fellow for Data Curation in Latin American and Latina/o Studies. Isasi will work with Digital Scholarship Coordinator Albert A. Palacios to contribute to “collections as data” efforts, educational resources, and digital scholarship initiatives at LLILAS Benson. She will hold her position from July 29 through June 2020.

In her role as CLIR fellow, Isasi will have the opportunity to alter the way in which students, researchers, and affiliated communities access and engage with the digitized historical record.

According to CLIR (the Council on Library and Information Resources) the CLIR postdoctoral position “offers recent PhD graduates the chance to develop research tools, resources, and services while exploring new career opportunities. . . . Fellows work on projects that forge and strengthen connections among library collections, educational technologies, and current research.”

Jennifer Isasi
Jennifer Isasi

In addition to her work with Palacios, Isasi will work closely with the current CLIR fellow Hannah Alpert-Abrams as well as University of Texas Libraries academic engagement staff and LLILAS affiliated faculty to develop curated data sets, curricula, and workshops centered on digital assets and tools, and open-access resources that support scholarly and public engagement with digital materials.

Isasi will also work closely with the post-custodial archival team and partners in the United States and Latin America to inform the development of forthcoming digital collections and facilitate their use in digital research and pedagogy. As such, she will have the opportunity to alter the way in which students, researchers, and affiliated communities access and engage with the digitized historical record.

Jennifer Isasi holds a PhD in Hispanic Studies with a specialization in Digital Humanities from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her dissertation, “Data Mining Possibilities for the Analysis of the Literary Character in the Spanish Novel: The Case of Galdós and the ‘Episodios nacionales’” (written in Spanish) establishes a computational reading methodology to extract, analyze, and visualize literary character-systems or social networks, noting how they reflect novel genres and degrees of historicity that replicate close readings of the novels. Currently, she is a lecturer of Spanish at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where she teaches Spanish, Commercial Spanish, and Foundations of Literacy.

Showcasing the Hamilton Book Award Winners

Authors, left to right: Allison Lowery, Dr. Desmond Lawler, Dr. Huaiyin Li, and grand-prize winner Dr. Denise Spellberg.
Authors, left to right: Allison Lowery, Dr. Desmond Lawler, Dr. Huaiyin Li, and grand-prize winner Dr. Denise Spellberg.

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. Denise Spellberg sharing the details of how her award-winning work began.
Dr. Denise Spellberg sharing the details of how her award-winning work began.

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.

Dr. Spellberg was joined by three of the runner-up prize-winners, whose work was also honored at the 2014 award ceremony: Dr. Desmond Lawler of the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering (for Water Quality Engineering: Physical/Chemical Treatment Processes, which he co-authored with Mark Benjamin); Dr. Huaiyin Li of the Departments of History and Asian Studies (for Reinventing Modern China: Imagination and Authenticity in Chinese Historical Writing); and Ms. Allison Lowery, from the Texas Performing Arts Center and the Department of Theatre and Dance (for Historical Wig Styling: Volumes 1 and 2).

Dr. Lorraine Haricombe, UT Libraries Vice Provost and Director.
Dr. Lorraine Haricombe, UT Libraries Vice Provost and Director.

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.

George Mitchell, president and CEO of the University Co-op.
George Mitchell, president and CEO of the University Co-op.

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.

Libraries Salutes Award Winners

Andrés Tijerina with Anthony Grafton.

Congratulations to Dr. Andrés Tijerina, University of Texas Libraries Advisory Council Member and UT alum, for receiving the American Historical Association’s Individual Equity Award.  Dr. Tijerina is a renowned scholar of Texas history and a professor at Austin Community College.  His latest publication is a chapter in Still the Arena of Civil War: Violence and Turmoil in Reconstruction Texas, 1865-1874, edited by Kenneth W. Howell.

Frank Andre Guridy

Additionally we congratulate Dr. Frank Guridy for receiving the American Historical Association and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History’s Wesley-Logan Prize for his first book, Forging Diaspora: Afro-Cubans and African Americans in a World of Empire and Jim Crow.  Dr. Guridy is an associate professor of history and director of the Warfield Center for African and African-American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

White Doubles Up with Hamilton Award

Hamilton grand prize winner, "Scripting Jesus" by L. Michael White

The Hamilton Book Author Awards wrapped its incredible fifteenth annual awards ceremony last Wednesday, and Dr. L. Michael White became the first two-time winner of the $10,000 grand prize.

White’s book Scripting Jesus: The Gospels in Rewrite (Harper Collins) is a theoretical work on the contextualization of the Bible to its era and authors, and serves as a worthy companion to his earlier From Jesus to Christianity: How Four Generations of Visionaries & Storytellers Created the New Testament and Christian Faith (Harper Collins) which garnered the award in 2006.

Runners up included Richard Graham (Feeding the City: From Street Market to Liberal Reform in Salvador, Brazil, 1780-1860), David Hillis (Principles of Life), Inga Markovits (Justice in Luritz: Experiencing Socialist Law in East Germany) and Karl Miller (Segregating Sound: Inventing Folk and Pop Music in the Age of Jim Crow).  J. Patrick Olivelle received the Career Research Excellence Award, while Steven Dietz took home the award for Creative Research. Barbara McArthur and George Benedict were honored with the Best Research Paper Award.

The Hamilton prize is sponsored by the University Co-op.

Normally, the subject of books alone is enough for us to spill a few words on the virtual page, but in the case of this year’s presentation, we also had a connection to the proceedings in the form of assistant engineering librarian Larayne Dallas, who happened to serve on the selection committee.

PRIMO Recognition for LIS

Last week staff in Library Instruction Services heard the good news that two more of their instructional efforts were accepted into the PRIMO Database, the Association of College & Research Libraries’ Instruction Section’s peer-reviewed collection of instructional materials.   The purpose of PRIMO is to foster  sharing of high quality digital resources to support academic librarians’ as they teach users how to find and evaluate information.

PRIMO now includes a total of four projects designed by Library Instruction Services:

How to Generate Keywords

This tool helps students turn their research question into a successful database search.  Students often struggle with this first piece of the research process but good keyword selection is vital to bringing back relevant and useful resources.

Tip Jar

Tip Jar posts, which have been featured on this blog before, use comics and video to introduce undergraduates to research strategies, resources and library services.  They are shared through the News For Undergraduates blog,  incorporated into course-specific research guides, and used during chat reference transactions.

All About Plagiarism

This interactive tutorial helps students avoid unintentional plagiarism.  Students learn what constitutes plagiarism, why it matters, and strategies for avoiding plagiarism such as quoting, paraphrasing and note-taking.  The tutorial is assigned by faculty across campus who can upload a related quiz to their Blackboard course site. Libraries staff were also featured in a PRIMO Site of the Month interview discussing the tutorial’s design.

Understanding Citations Tutorial

This interactive tutorial helps students do research and avoid plagiarism by explaining the elements of a citation.  At the end of the tutorial, students are able to discern between different types of citations (a journal article versus a book, for example) and recognize the elements of a citation so that they can build a proper citation for their own bibliography.

These resources are available through the Libraries website 24/7 for students who need help even when the Libraries aren’t open.  They allow us to provide point of need instruction whatever the time of day and support us as we work with students on their research projects.

Catherine Hamer is the Associate Director for User Services at the University of Texas Libraries.

HRDI Project Earns Grant

From the Genocide Archive of Rwanda

The Aegis Trust is one of eight organizations that have been awarded an EMC Heritage Trust Project grant through the company’s Information Heritage Initiative program for its work on the Genocide Archive of Rwanda. Aegis partnered with the Rwandan government and the Libraries’ Human Rights Documentation Initiative (HRDI) to build the framework for the Archive, the digital files of which reside with HRDI.

The grant will provide for ongoing archival activities including the digitization and preservation of audiovisual testimonies, historical photographs, documents, newspapers and genocide victims’ information which is made available through the Archive’s site.

Congratulations to the HRDI team for their continuing excellent work on this important project.

Vargas Llosa Earns Nobel for Literature

Mario Vargas Llosa was awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday.

Though he holds Spanish dual citizenship and currently resides primarily in London, his birth, his background and his oeuvre make him thoroughly Peruvian.

In announcing the award, the jurors cited Vargas Llosa’s “cartography of the structures of power and his sharpened images of resistance, rebellion, and defeat of the individual.”

The author’s published works, in Spanish and translated editions, are held in the Benson Latin American Collection and other campus libraries, and a chapter from Vargas Llosa’s upcoming novel is available online.

Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa (1936- ) was born in Arequipa, Peru, a provincial capital south of Lima. He spent his youth with his mother and members of her family in Cochabamba, Bolivia, Piura, on the northern coast of Peru, and Lima, where he attended San Marcos University and published his first pieces of fiction.  In 1958, Vargas Llosa graduated from university and received a scholarship for study in Madrid, beginning a twelve-year residence abroad.

While living in Europe– first Madrid, then Paris and London– he worked as a journalist and wrote novels that gained critical acclaim.  La Ciudad y los perros (1963) won the Premio de la Critica Española despite stirring animosity in Peru for its thinly-veiled criticism of the ruling military. Publication of La Casa verde in 1965 firmly established Vargas Llosa as a member of what came to be known as the “Latin American Boom,” a generation of writers that include fellow Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez and Carlos Fuentes. Film aficionados may recognize La Tía Julia y el escribidor from its film adaptation as Tune in Tomorrow.

Vargas Llosa’s novels introduce his readers to Latin America’s rich legacy of historical characters.  La Guerra del fin del mundo evokes events of Brazil’s 19th century internal war and La Fiesta del chivo reflects on the last days of the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo.  Two novels,  Historia de Mayta (1984) and Lituma en los Andes (1996) are set in the events of Peru’s intestine struggle with the guerrilla group, Shining Path.  This traumatic period in Peruvian history inspired Vargas Llosa to more than fiction.   He became a candidate for the presidency in the 1990 election.  His defeat by the now incarcerated Alberto Fujimori proved a blessing for a man whose artistic skills far surpass his politics and for those of us who find pleasure in reading.

Since the 1990s, Vargas Llosa has resided primarily in London.  He was awarded Spanish citizenship in 1993 and elected to the Real Academia Española in 1994.  He has become an articulate spokesman for the importance of the Spanish language and Spanish culture.  This fall Vargas Llosa is living in Princeton as a Distinguished Visitor and, now, a Nobel laureate.

David Block is Latin American Studies Bibliographer at the Benson Latin American Collection.

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

Benson First Organization to Win Noted Award

Benson_logoThe Benson Latin American Collection just received notification that they have become the first institutional recipient of the Medalla 1808, an award presented on behalf of Mexico City to persons – and now institutions – for significant contributions to the study and development of Mexican history and culture.

The Benson joins a crowd of such renowned writers and historians as Carlos Fuentes, José Emilio Pacheco and Carlos Monsivais, and being amongst those names is surely a humbling experience.

Congratulations to the Benson for this much deserved acknowledgment.

More information can be found here.