An exciting aspect of my role as VP and Director of UT Libraries is the opportunity to meet and discuss academic libraries’ roles in an age of networked information. The rapid rate of change in technology is a key driver but not the only one. The first generation of the twenty-first century has arrived on our campuses with very different expectations of discovering and accessing information and learning styles.
In higher education the internet has enabled new modes of research and communication, new knowledge products. And libraries are stepping up to embed librarians in that life-cycle. Simply put, libraries are at the heart of today’s digital transformation in research and scholarly communication, and UT Libraries is no exception.
Our commitment is to embrace the core values of our profession to select and acquire, describe, make accessible and preserve valuable resources to support UT’s mission. Our goal is to remain both relevant and strategic as we continue to assess our services, programs and expertise to leverage very limited resources efficiently. We do so by engaging our users to understand their needs to position UT Libraries as a significant node in a rapidly changing higher education ecosystem.
The Provost’s new Task Force on “The Future of the UT Libraries” is well-timed to have that conversation with our primary stakeholders. I look forward to an opportunity to listen, understand and share the amazing stories of faculty and students who are impacted by work that happens at UT Libraries every day.
Thank you for helping us launch into the Fall semester by celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Perry-Castañeda Library, one of our most highly trafficked facilities on the Forty Acres. Drs. Perry and Castañeda – whose portraits hang on the wall inside the entrance of PCL – were the first minorities appointed at the University of Texas in 1964 and in 1927, respectively. We continue to honor their legacy and their contributions at The University of Texas at Austin.
At UT Libraries, we invite the diverse communities of campus and the residents of the state of Texas to explore and utilize the rich depth of our resources, our collaborative and reflective spaces, high quality equipment and professional expertise in libraries across the campus. For a list of libraries, centers and museums please visit http://www.lib.utexas.edu/help/librarylist.html
Recently, President Fenves remarked that a UT education is about faculty and students learning how to create, build, probe, discover, and solve together, so that our students are prepared for life after they graduate. And there are many examples of this kind of learning and teaching taking place across campus, including at UT Libraries. We have invested in creating alternative learning environments in spacious collaborative study areas in PCL such as the Learning Commons, STEM tutoring spaces, Scholars Commons, the Graduate Landing Spot, the Media Lab, the Data Lab, the Foundry at the Fine Arts Library, and more. I hope you find your favorite spot and when you do, send us your feedback. We value your suggestions as we continue to respond to your needs, it matters!
It is our goal to support you towards success at UT and beyond. If you need help or advice please do not hesitate to let us know. Remember, what starts here changes the world. Be bold, be audacious!
Since the birth of The University of Texas at Austin in 1883, the history of the University of Texas Libraries has consisted, in large part, of the construction and habitation of a series of buildings designed to support a constantly expanding collection of resources for an ever-growing community of people. When the original library in Old Main quickly outgrew the meager space there, it was moved twice before finding a dedicated home in Battle Hall in 1911. Just a couple of decades later, the 27-story Tower was constructed with the express purpose of becoming the “permanent” home of the university’s library collections. But, if history has taught us anything, it’s that you can never have enough resources to satisfy the intellectual curiosity of this campus.
And so it was that in late August of 1977, the university threw open the doors of its most ambitious library structure to date — a massive 6-story monolith just southeast of the original Forty Acres with a capacity for more than 3 million books — and students flooded into the new Perry-Castañeda Library.
The PCL was originally proposed to support 15 years of collections growth — a relatively modest expectation given the investment, but one that probably recognized the potential for nascent technologies to effect how information would be stored and used. Little could our forebears have conceived, though, the present that now exists. The Libraries eventually exceeded the space needed to contain the whole of its physical collections, but the revolution in library transformation spawned by the internet and the rise of microcomputing technology has simultaneously created new opportunities and challenges for reimagining the concept of library space.
As we celebrate the 40th birthday of this beloved building, we judge that history has served us well. The library played a critical role in the age dominated by physical materials — especially at the leading institutions of higher learning, where costs of materials and space have been the necessary sacrifices to bear in support of learning, innovation and discovery. Today, however, the environment is different. Users have different needs, and constantly shifting needs that track to technological innovation. And the library still plays a critical role — we are a bridge between the old sensibility and the new.
For years, the PCL was known mainly as the campus destination for finding the book. Today, it’s increasingly becoming something more…a place where the book still exists, but as a component in an ecosystem that has moved beyond that of passive provider of information, and toward that of an active partner in teaching, learning and research and in the creation and realization of ideas. The spaces that once served as holding areas for physical materials now increasingly accommodate services for writing support and tutoring, technologies for productivity and visualization and environments for interpersonal experience and collaboration.
How do we prepare for tomorrow given the pace of change today? The library has always been a place, a location, and the library’s evolving purpose will likely be similar, but also different. It will be enhanced and dynamic, where the various media of information will not sit idly on shelves, but will move in streams that can meet, expand and re-form almost instantaneously with a community of people from across the globe.
As we commemorate what the library — this library, in particular — has been and what it has become, let’s also look forward with great anticipation and hope to a vibrant and exciting future at UT, and well beyond.
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.
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.