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.
For over 25 years, graduate students from the School of Information’s Masters of Science in Information Studies program have volunteered at the Perry-Castañeda Library at what is now the Research Help and Check Out desk.
Through the Volunteer Program iSchool students gain experience providing expert research help in a university library by shadowing experienced librarian coaches. Each volunteer is paired with one or two coaches who guide them over the semester. By the end of the semester, volunteers will begin answering patron questions with support and feedback from their coaches.
Participants from both sides of the program speak highly of the relationships that it fosters between experienced librarians and students who are just entering the profession. The iSchool students bring fresh enthusiasm to working at the library that benefits everyone who works at or visits the PCL.
This semester’s program began on February 2nd and will run through May 8th. This semester’s volunteers are Corey Fifles, Alia Gant, Nicole Harris, Rachel Panella, Jeremy Selvidge, and Alicia Zachary-Erickson.
“A real building is one on which the eye can light and stay lit,” exhorted poet Ezra Pound, commenting on the need for architecture to be visually engaging in order to stimulate the mind — a thought that could just as easily apply to that which occurs within a given structure. With the Perry-Castañeda Library’s (PCL) recent entry in the Austin Chronicle’s “Best of 2014” issue with the dubious distinction of “Best Brutalist Architecture,” there’s little promise that the edifice of the 70’s-era building would meet Pound’s condition for generating intellectual inspiration, so the Libraries must instead focus on that which occurs within the walls of its spaces to spark creativity and innovation.
To that end, the Libraries is undertaking its largest transformation of space since the PCL’s construction in an effort to adapt to the changing needs and practices of its users, as well as to the expectations of the larger campus community.
This semester, construction is beginning on phase one of a project to create a cross-campus collaborative space in the Libraries’ flagship branch where student learning at the university will enter a new era. The University of Texas Libraries Learning Commons has been in development over the past 18 months through engagement with campus stakeholders and discussions with university administrators to envision the transformation of outmoded library space into a place where active learning and modern scholarship can occur.
“Libraries have learned from recent paradigm shifts to be more agile than they were traditionally,” says Executive Associate Director Catherine Hamer. “While shrinking budgets compound the difficulty of making wholesale changes to how we operate, we’ve continued planning and executing on efforts that are known needs for students, faculty and researchers. We’ve been developing the Learning Commons as a major strategic goal behind the scenes for some time, and I’m gratified that we’re finally able to announce it as a reality.”
The 20,000 square-foot renovation on the entry-level of PCL will include new technology-rich classrooms built for 21st century learning, consultation spaces and meeting areas. It will boast a modern media lab with high-end software and support for digital media creation that will be available to every student on campus — regardless of college or school — as well as support for faculty who want to incorporate digital literacy into their courses. The Learning Commons will also serve as the new home for the University Writing Center (UWC), the first-of-its-kind partnership between the Libraries and another campus service unit devised to streamline resources for students at UT by locating specialized service at the point of need. Continue reading →
Last fall, almost sixty beautiful, full-color book cover reproductions in poster form of titles nominated for the University Co-op’s annual Robert W. Hamilton Book Author Awards were put on display in the UFCU Student Learning Commons room at the Perry-Castañeda Library. The posters were originally produced for presentation in folding frame screens at the awards presentation dinner, but through a promotional partnership with the Libraries, the nominees for the university’s highest literary award now have an annual home in the university’s flagship library.
The 2014 grand-prize winner, along with the 4 runner-up prize-winners, were announced Wednesday, October 15, and the Co-op has again provided the Libraries with posters of each of the nominated titles for display at PCL.
The exhibit serves as acknowledgement of the research, scholarly and creative accomplishments of the world-class faculty and staff of the university — many of whom are reliant on the collections, resources and services provided through the Libraries to support their notable contributions to a better understanding of the world.
The posters will be on display until the 2015 winners are announced next year.
If you happen to be entering PCL early in the morning and you’re met at the doors by bleary-eyed, disheveled students exiting the building, it’s probably a good bet that it’s again finalstime at UT.
It also means that a combination of long hours poring over texts and notes from a full semester, a deficit of sleep and natural anxiety has created fertile loam for budding artistic expression in the form of doodles, badinage and a few outright masterpieces on the collection of whiteboards that are scattered across the library’s six floors.
Frank Meaker has continued to catalog these transitory works in his daily meanderings about PCL, and now that the end of the semester is nigh, we offer a selection of the spring’s finest examples via the Libraries Flickr page for your viewing enjoyment.
Next week, anyone needing to see the value of research at the university need only to step foot on campus.
Beginning on Monday, April 11, and continuing through Friday, April 15, the hard work of students gets a bit more visibility as part of Research Week 2011, this year’s installment of the annual campus-wide celebration of undergraduate research and creative activity featuring a combination of existing programs plus events and activities, and highlighting the many research opportunities available to students.
As a part of our central role on campus to provide the informational foundation for research at the university, the Libraries will host our third annual All Libraries Fair on the Plaza at the Perry-Castañeda Library on Wednesday, April 13, from 11:30am-1:30pm. Representatives from each of the ten campus branch libraries will be on hand with games, activities and information related to the Libraries and their resources.
There will be juggling, contests, prizes and cotton candy, so come join the fun, learn a little and see the significance of research at your university.
(Special thanks to Mayank Aranke – Biochemistry, Social Work – who appears at 1:36 in the following video and makes a case for your libraries.)
We’re in the thick of it again with the looming end of the semester and the approaching zero-hour for projects and exams driving long nights and early mornings around the Libraries.
That also signals the return of whiteboard art, the spontaneous creative fits resulting from a combination of stress, anxiety, exhaustion and some small degree of relief that the end – be it affirmative or not – is nigh.
You can view a slide show of the finer examples of this phenomenon captured by our own Frank Meaker at the University’s Know website or at the Libraries Flickr page.
BONUS STACKS DISCOVERY:
A student “settles in for the long haul” on 5th floor of the PCL.