Category Archives: News

Women spinning wool, Juncal, Cañar, Ecuador; photo: Niels Fock/Eva Krener, 1973

AILLA Awarded Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded a Documenting Endangered Languages Preservation Grant of $227,365 to Patience Epps and Susan Smythe Kung of the Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America (AILLA) for support of their upcoming project entitled “Archiving Significant Collections of Endangered Languages: Two Multilingual Regions of Northwestern South America.”

The AILLA grant is one among 199 grants, totaling $18.6 million, announced by the NEH on April 9, 2018.

This is a three-year project that will gather together, curate, and digitize a set of eight significant collections of South American indigenous languages, the results of decades of research by senior scholars. The collections will be archived at AILLA, a digital repository dedicated to the long-term preservation of multimedia in indigenous languages. These materials constitute an important resource for further linguistic, ethnographic, and ethnomusicological research, and are of high value to community members and scholars. They include six legacy collections from the Upper Rio Negro region of the northwest Amazon (Brazil and Colombia), and two collections focused on Ecuadorian Kichwa, most notably the Cañar variety.

Women spinning wool, Juncal, Cañar, Ecuador; photo: Niels Fock/Eva Krener, 1973
Women spinning wool, Juncal, Cañar, Ecuador; photo: Niels Fock/Eva Krener, 1973

All of the languages concerned are endangered or vulnerable to varying degrees, and the collections are heavily focused on threatened forms of discourse, such as ritual speech and song. Of the Upper Rio Negro set, the collections of Elsa Gomez-Imbert, Stephen Hugh-Jones, and Arthur P. Sorensen, Jr., include the East Tukanoan languages Bará, Barasana, Eduria, Karapana, Tatuyo, Makuna, and Tukano. The collections of Howard Reid and Renato Athias are focused on Hup, while Reid’s collection also contains a few materials from two languages of the wider region, Nukak and Hotï (yua, isolate). Robin Wright’s collection involves Baniwa. Of the Ecuadorian Kichwa set, Judy Blankenship’s and Allison Adrian’s collections are both focused on Cañar Highland Kichwa, while Adrian’s also includes some material from Loja Highland Kichwa (qvj, Quechua).

The two regions targeted by these collections are highly significant for our understanding of language contact and diversity in indigenous South America. The multilingual Upper Rio Negro region, famous for the linguistic exogamy practiced by some of its peoples, has much to tell us about language contact and maintenance, while Ecuadorian Kichwa varieties can shed light on the dynamics of pre-Colombian language shift. These collections will be made accessible in AILLA in standard formats, and will provide a foundation for further study of these fascinating regions and multilingual dynamics.

NEH Logo MASTER_082010

The National Endowment for the Humanities, created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at www.neh.gov.

The Child Mary Spinning (detail), Collection of Carl & Marilynn Thoma

Thoma Visiting Scholars in Viceregal Latin American Art: Call for Proposals

The Child Mary Spinning (detail), Collection of Carl & Marilynn Thoma
The Child Mary Spinning (detail), Collection of Carl & Marilynn Thoma

In collaboration with the Thoma Foundation and the Blanton Museum of Art, LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections is pleased to announce a convocatoria / call for proposals for the Becas Thoma para Investigación en Arte Virreinal Latinoamericano (Thoma Visiting Scholars in Spanish Colonial Art). The Becas Thoma will fund short-term visits for six scholars to conduct research on South American colonial art based on a long-term loan to the Blanton by the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation. Researchers will have access to over thirty works now at the Blanton as well as the extensive resources of the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, one of the premier libraries in the world focused on colonial Latin American materials.

Presentation of Mary in the Temple, Cuzco, 18th c. Collection of Carl & Marilynn Thoma
Presentation of Mary in the Temple, Cuzco, 18th c. Collection of Carl & Marilynn Thoma

Becas Thoma para Investigación en Arte Virreinal Latinoamericano

En el contexto del préstamo de larga duración de más de treinta obras de arte colonial sudamericano que la Fundación Carl & Marilynn Thoma ha hecho al Museo Blanton de la Universidad de Texas en Austin se han creado las Becas Thoma de Investigación en Arte Virreinal Latinoamericano. Estas becas, organizadas en colaboración con LLILAS Benson Colecciones y Estudios Latinoamericanos, permitirán a investigadores seleccionados visitar el campus de la Universidad para investigar sobre cualquier tema relacionado con la producción, significado, recepción, coleccionismo o exhibición de la cultura visual y material del periodo virreinal latinoamericano. El objetivo principal es realizar estudios comparativos, interdisciplinarios y/o interregionales, que incluyan pero no se limiten a los materiales que alberga la Colección Latinoamericana Nettie Lee Benson y/o de la casi tercera parte de la Colección Thoma que estará en préstamo en el Museo Blanton por un periodo de tres años.

Esta convocatoria está abierta a estudiantes de doctorado, profesores, curadores e investigadores independientes de todo género. Se dará preferencia a nacionales latinoamericanos, pero también se habrá de considerar la candidatura de personas norteamericanas y europeas.

En esta convocatoria se otorgarán tres becas cortas de investigación. Cada una de ellas consiste en un monto de hasta $5,000 dólares americanos para cubrir gastos de viaje (visa+ tarifas aéreas), alojamiento y manutención por un periodo de hasta cuatro semanas. La presente convocatoria estará abierta hasta el 31 de Mayo de 2018. Las estancias de investigación deberán efectuarse idealmente entre fines de agosto y principios de diciembre de 2018.

The House at Nazareth (detail). Collection of Carl & Marilynn Thoma
The House at Nazareth (detail). Collection of Carl & Marilynn Thoma

Requisitos

  • Acreditarse como estudiante de doctorado, profesor(a), curador(a) o investigador(a)
  • Tener grado mínimo de maestría.
  • Carta de postulación que muestre un conocimiento mínimo de la Colección Carl & Marilynn Thoma de arte virreinal sudamericano y de la Colección Latinoamericana Nettie Lee Benson de la Universidad de Texas en Austin, además de la descripción del proyecto de investigación y el beneficio que se espera recibir al trabajar directamente con estas colecciones, e incluso otras dentro del campus universitario (máximo dos hojas).
  • Curriculum Vitae (máximo dos hojas).
  • Una carta de recomendación en la que se acredite el trabajo académico del/la solicitante.

Los becarios y becarias serán elegidos por un comité interdisciplinario. Durante el periodo de la estancia serán reconocidos como Thoma Visiting Scholars in Spanish Colonial Art (TVSSCA), adquiriendo el compromiso de permanecer en Austin por un período de entre 14 y 30 días en los cuales tendrán acceso tanto a las colecciones Thoma y Benson como a las bases de datos de la Universidad. Igualmente, los y las TVSSCA se comprometen a realizar mientras estén en Austin una presentación pública para difusión de su proyecto de investigación.

Death of Saint Joseph (detail). Collection of Carl & Marilynn Thoma
Death of Saint Joseph (detail). Collection of Carl & Marilynn Thoma

Así mismo, al término de la estancia los y las TVSSCA entregarán un reporte de máximo dos hojas evaluando la utilidad de los materiales consultados en la biblioteca y el museo. Los y las TVSSCA también deberán presentar los resultados de su investigación un periodo no mayor a seis meses después del término de la estancia en algún foro público (publicación académica o de difusión-impresa o electrónica-, conferencia, ponencia en congreso o podcast). Los y las TVSSCA darán crédito a la Fundación Thoma, al Museo Blanton y a la Colección Latinoamericana Nettie Lee Benson en todos los casos, y entregarán una copia de dichas publicaciones a cada una de las tres instituciones que permitieron su estancia de investigación.

Las solicitudes deberán enviarse en un sólo archivo en formato PDF antes del jueves 31 de mayo de 2018.

No se aceptarán documentos después de esa fecha ni por separado.

Los resultados del concurso se darán a conocer alrededor del 30 de junio de 2018.

Para envío de solicitudes, aclaración de dudas, e información general sobre las colecciones Thoma y Benson, favor de dirigirse a:

Rosario I. Granados, Ph. D. Carl & Marilynn Thoma, Associate Curator of Spanish Colonial Art

Blanton Museum of Art,  The University of Texas at Austin rosario.granados@blantonmuseum.org

(+1) (+1) 512.232.1450

Jackie Barnitz in her slide collection. Photo: Mike Wellen.

Legacy of Art Historian Jacqueline Barnitz to Be Celebrated with Remembrance and Archive Exhibit

The Benson Latin American Collection is pleased to announce the acquisition of the archive of Jacqueline Barnitz (1923–2017). The life and collection of the late art historian and professor emeritus will be celebrated in the Benson’s Rare Books and Manuscripts Reading Room on Tuesday, March 27, at 3 p.m. Selected materials from the archive will be on view in an exhibition titled The Legacy of Jacqueline Barnitz.

Jackie Barnitz in her slide collection. Photo: Mike Wellen.
Jackie Barnitz in her slide collection. Photo: Mike Wellen.

The exhibit provides a glimpse into the archive of the world-renowned modern Latin American art historian who taught at The University of Texas at Austin from 1981 until her retirement in 2007. Barnitz donated the archive to the Benson shortly before her death, and its contents include correspondence, research notes, teaching materials, art slides, notebooks, rare art and art history publications, and an exceptional array of exhibition catalogs from Latin America spanning much of the twentieth century.

A young Jacqueline Barnitz.
A young Jacqueline Barnitz.

An artist in her own right, Jackie Barnitz made a living during her early professional career as a portrait painter and eventually turned to abstract expressionism. In 1962, she traveled to Argentina, where she became enthralled with the dynamic arts culture of Buenos Aires. Upon returning to her home in New York City, she wrote about Latin American art for multiple publications, bringing crucial exposure for Latin American artists in the 1960s and 70s, especially those who had left their home countries for New York in the wake of political unrest. She continued to travel to Mexico and South America throughout her career. Barnitz earned her PhD in art history from the City University of New York after having taught courses on Latin American art at the college level.

Barnitz joined the art history faculty of UT Austin as the first professor to hold a university tenure-track position in modern Latin American art. She was a dedicated mentor and teacher whose students have moved on to research, teaching, and curatorial positions in major institutions around the world. Her textbook, Twentieth-Century Art of Latin America, published by University of Texas Press in 2001, with a second, expanded edition in collaboration with Patrick Frank issued in 2015, is the textbook of choice for most university courses on modern Latin American art.

Barnitz with Patrick Frank, co-author of second edition of "Twentieth-Century Art of Latin America." Photo: Gayanne DeVry
Barnitz with Patrick Frank, co-author of second edition of “Twentieth-Century Art of Latin America.” Photo: Gayanne DeVry

Barnitz’s contribution to the field of Latin American art history in Austin and beyond is emphasized by Beverly Adams, curator of Latin American art at the Blanton Museum. “Jackie was a true innovator, pioneer, and steward of the field of Latin American art history. From her salons in New York City to her far-ranging travel and research, she constantly sought meaningful connections with artists and intellectuals throughout the Americas. In the Art History department, she helped form a generation of scholars. At the Benson, her archive and library will surely continue to inspire new generations of students.”

Barnitz with students during a lecture. Photo courtesy Mike Wellan.
Barnitz with students during a lecture. Photo courtesy Mike Wellan.

The Blanton Museum of Art was the beneficiary of several remarkable gifts from Barnitz over the years, ranging from thoughtful catalogue essays, class tours of the collection, and her frequent donations of art. According to curator Adams, Barnitz made her most recent gift to the Blanton last year, “a number of fascinating works on paper of important artists such as María Luisa Pacheco, Cildo Meireles, Paulo Bruscky, Regina Silveira, and Leandro Katz,” which will soon be seen in the museum’s galleries.

According to Melissa Guy, director of the Benson Latin American Collection, the acquisition of Barnitz’s collection further strengthens the Benson’s holdings in Latin American art and art history, which also include the José Gómez Sicre Papers, the Barbara Doyle Duncan Papers, and the Stanton Loomis Catlin Papers. “Jacqueline’s collection brings incredible richness and depth to the Benson’s art and art history holdings, and reflects her stature as the preeminent scholar of modern Latin American art history. The exhibition catalogs alone, covering nearly the entire region from the 1960s into the twenty-first century, warrant special attention by students and researchers,” said Guy.

Barnitz in her early teens.
Barnitz in her early teens.

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Attend The Event

RSVP requested: attend.com/barnitz

This event is co-hosted by the University of Texas Libraries and LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, who gratefully acknowledge the following co-sponsors: Blanton Museum of Art, Center for Latin American Visual Studies, Department of Art and Art History, College of Fine Arts.

About the Benson Latin American Collection

The Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection is one of the foremost collections of library materials on Latin America worldwide. Established in 1921 as the Latin American Library, the Benson is approaching its centennial. Through its partnership established with the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies in 2011, the Benson continues to be at the forefront of Latin American and U.S. Latina/o librarianship through its collections and digital initiatives.

 

Alicia Gaspar de Alba Donates Archive to the Benson Collection

Alicia Gaspar de Alba
Alicia Gaspar de Alba

BY DANIEL ARBINO

The Benson Latin American Collection is pleased to announce the acquisition of the Alicia Gaspar de Alba Papers. Contents include drafts of creative works such as Calligraphy of the Witch (2007), La Llorona on the Longfellow Bridge (2003), and Sor Juana’s Second Dream (1999) as well as notable academic publications like [Un]framing the “Bad Woman” (UT Press, 2014), Our Lady of Controversy (UT Press, 2011), and Making a Killing (UT Press, 2010). Moreover, researchers will have access to Gaspar de Alba’s conference ephemera and early teaching files. In total, the scholar generously donated 40 bankers’ boxes that span her academic and literary career through 2017.

A native of El Paso/Juárez, Gaspar de Alba is no stranger to academia. As professor in the departments of Chicana/o Studies, English, and Gender Studies and Chair of LGBTQ Studies at UCLA, she has been a monumental figure on the California campus since 1994. During that time, she has published five academic books, three novels, and three collections of poetry and short story, establishing herself as one of the leading scholars and writers on Chicana feminism and lesbian literature.

As seamless as Gaspar de Alba’s relationship with academia might seem, tension marked its beginning. After graduating with a bachelor’s and then a master’s from the University of Texas–El Paso, Gaspar de Alba had a brief stop at the University of Iowa in the 1980s that ended with her leaving the PhD program in American Studies. She also taught English composition and ESL courses part-time at UMass Boston. Her career took off in 1986, however, with a purchase and a decision: the purchase was a used IBM Selectric typewriter for $600; the decision, to write every morning for four years.

1994 Correspondence between Alicia Gaspar de Alba and Avon Books
1994 Correspondence between Alicia Gaspar de Alba and Avon Books

Gaspar de Alba returned to her doctoral studies in 1990 at the University of New Mexico, receiving her PhD in 1994. She has lived in California ever since, now with her wife, artist Alma López. Yet the author keeps strong ties to the borderlands of her early years. In fact, Desert Blood (2005), winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Mystery Novel, demonstrates how her home and her career as both researcher and writer all inform one another. The novel, which came about after years of research, is a fictional account of the femicides in Ciudad Juárez told through the eyes of a lesbian graduate student.

Those unfamiliar with Gaspar de Alba’s writing will find a focus on putting forth a Chicana lesbian identity through popular culture while questioning traditional Mexican and Chicana/o discourse. Her prolific and varied writing career has led her peers to refer to her as “the quintessential bilingual/bicultural writer” and “one of the most eloquent exponents of a lesbian esthetic and promoters of the empowerment of women.” The fact that this “do-it-all” writer has donated the collection speaks to her charitable desire to make her materials accessible to students and scholars around the world. It will certainly be the purpose of many visits to the Rare Books Reading Room and pairs nicely with the Benson’s current holdings, namely the papers of other Chicana writers from Texas, such as Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Carmen Tafolla, and Estela Portillo Trambley.

Excerpt from Gaspar de Alba’s manuscript Sor Juana’s Second Dream
Excerpt from Gaspar de Alba’s manuscript Sor Juana’s Second Dream

The Gaspar de Alba acquisition is a noteworthy addition to the U.S. Latina/o Collection at the Benson, which began in 1974 as the Mexican American Library Program. The collection has since evolved as one of the most inclusive and most comprehensive in the world, with a special attention given to distinctive voices that document the cultural, political, and economic impact of Latina/o and Hispanic populations in Texas and the United States. Its mission is to support the educational needs of students as well as to facilitate the scholarly activity of the faculty of the Center for Mexican American Studies and the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies.

Please stay tuned for future information and events to celebrate this exceptional collection.

________________________________________________________

Daniel Arbino is Librarian for U.S. Latina/o Studies at the Benson Latin American Collection.

Looking Back

Looking back...

It’s been a year of change at UT and the University of Texas Libraries, with the arrival of new leadership and major transformations taking place across the campus.

As we prepare to close out the final page on the calendar, it’s worthwhile to take a look back at a year in which the Libraries and the university entered a period of renewal.

Learning Commons opening. L-R: Randy Diehl, Gregory Fenves, Lorraine Haricombe.
Learning Commons opening. L-R: Randy Diehl, Gregory Fenves, Lorraine Haricombe.

As staff eagerly anticipated the arrival of a new director after the departure of former Vice Provost Fred Heath, construction began on the Learning Commons at the Perry-Castañeda Library in January — a 20,000 square foot renovation that represented the largest transformation of space in the building’s history. The space opened at the beginning of the fall semester with an event featuring some 200 attendees including new UT President Gregory Fenves and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Randy Diehl. With the relocation of the University Writing Center to its new digs in the Learning Commons, the PCL is seeing more activity than at any time in recent memory.

Lorraine Haricombe.
Lorraine Haricombe.

Lorraine J. Haricombe arrived in February from her previous post at the University of Kansas to chart a new course for the Libraries, bringing with her fresh ideas and perspectives as well as a record of successes in the field of open access. After a short period of acclimatization during the spring, Haricombe enlisted staff to help her envision and begin to implement a new path for the organization, one that has grown in momentum to the current day.

Doug Benson and Teresa Lozano Long.
Doug Benson and Teresa Lozano Long.

Cultural advocates Theresa Lozano Long and Nettie Lee Benson were honored in a ceremony with leaders, family, friends and supporters at Sid Richardson Hall that saw the unveiling of twin plaques recognizing the great ladies’ contributions to the Latin American Studies at the university in March.

The Libraries’ propensity for fostering creativity manifested itself in a successful crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the construction of a recording studio at the Fine Arts Library (FAL), and in the continued pilot of the Media Lab at PCL that provided students a technology rich resource for work on modern multimedia projects.

A pair of NEH grants buttressed research support efforts by the Libraries as staff committed more energy to seek public funding for essential projects. And a grant from the Hearst Foundation provided a boost for the construction of a broad-ranging makerspace — The Foundry — at the FAL, which will support students across campus, but especially in the new Creative Arts, Entertainment and Technology program announced this year at UT.

T-Kay Sangwand and Christian Kelleher meet with Rwandan officials.Partnerships at home and abroad evidenced the way in which libraries can contribute to the preservation of and access to the historical record. A web-based medieval mapping project — MappaMundi — launched after a collaborative effort involving Libraries technology staff and faculty from the College of Liberal Arts, and partners in Kigali and Great Britain announced the launch of the expanded and updated Genocide Archive of Rwanda, marking the latest grand success of a years-long relationship.

The Libraries continued its popular run of programming, with entertaining and informative events in the form of Science Study Break, Research + Pizza, Films in Person, Excessive Noise concerts, the Distinguished Author Dinner, and exhibitions from the Benson Latin American Collection and the Architecture & Planning Library’s To Better Know a Building series.

Dale J. Correa, MES Librarian, and Mahjoub Zweiri, professor of history at QU.And collections continued to grow, especially in areas of distinction, thanks to the hard work of staff who circumnavigate the globe in search of rare and niche materials — as Telugu pulp fiction acquired by a bibliographer in Hyderabad — and by donors, as well, who provide resources in new and underrepresented subjects to benefit current and future researchers — like the Freud Reia punk collection, now part of the Historical Music Recordings Collection.

Plenty of other gains were made this year, but it would be remiss not to talk about a few noteworthy losses the Libraries experienced, too. Along with the normal churn of staff that occurs over time in an organization, we saw a late-year spate of retirements by some of our foremost and long-serving librarians. Engineering Librarian Susan Ardis, Life Sciences Librarian Nancy Elder and Physics-Mathematics-Astronomy Librarian Molly White all contemplated careers of success and left behind their respective legacies for the next generation. Colleagues have honored their contributions with the career reflections offered below.

 

Susan Ardis

From Larayne Dallas

Susan Ardis.
Susan Ardis.

Susan used to tell us that she’d been around since dirt was a baby but actually she started work as Head, Engineering Library in 1979.  She came to Austin after serving Galveston’s Rosenberg Library as Head of Reference.  It was Michigan (and Wisconsin) before Texas.  Susan’s B.A. (History) and A.M.L.S. (Library Science) are from the University of Michigan.  She stayed on at Michigan to work in Cataloging, and then for six years was Head of the Natural Science Library.

During Susan’s time at the Engineering Library, valuable endowment funds were added; society publications and technical reports were brought into good order.  Engineering was the first at UT to remove the card catalog, to add a CD-ROM index, and to offer computer-aided instruction.  Also, Engineering was among the first to offer public computer printing and a computer lab.  Engineering became a U.S. Patent and Trademark Depository Library.  Susan oversaw the opening (and then the closing) of the Balcones Library Service Center.  After Virginia Phillips’s retirement, Susan added responsibilities as Head, Science Libraries Division.

Susan wrote three books and numerous articles.  She taught credit classes at UT and (online) at San Jose State.  Additionally, she taught patent workshops for the Texas State Library and for SLA (Special Library Association).  She won an innovation award from SLA.  A particularly big adventure was a consulting job that took her to libraries in Viet Nam.

Colleagues remember Susan as full of energy and always ready with innovative ideas in support of providing better library service.

 

Nancy Elder

From Liz DeHart

Nancy Elder.
Nancy Elder.

I had the pleasure of working with Nancy for 16 great years and I cannot say enough what she has meant to me. As mentor, friend and colleague, she’s been an inspiration for all of us at UT Libraries.

One of the most memorable times with Nancy was during my interview for the position I hold now at the Marine Science Library. She, Virginia P. and I flew in a small state plane to Port Aransas to meet with MSI faculty and staff. My nerves were already scrambled just thinking about the interview and flying in that “puddle jumper” really added to my nervousness. I remember Nancy telling me, “it’ll be okay.”

Nancy was an instrumental part of the Science Team, sharing her wisdom and keen sense of wit. She always had this knack for providing great analogies when describing certain points, whether it was work-related or just part of daily life. Loved it! Nancy was open, honest and good-hearted and because of that, she entrusted me with the Marine Science Library. I respected that very much and could not have asked for a better working relationship.

With all that comes with retirement, I wish you a happy one, Nancy. It’s been a blessing to work with you and I shall miss you, as we all will.

~~ HAPPY QUILTING, m’friend!

 

Molly White

From Dennis Trombatore

Molly White.
Molly White.

Molly White joined the Science Library crew in 1987. I had been here for two years, but Molly was already an old timer with a deep institutional memory. She had been an undergraduate and a Library School Master’s student at UT, and worked for the Libraries as early as 1968. She worked in the Tower when it was still the Main Library, she worked in a number of other units, and during that period she also took a long break and worked for Texas Pacific Film in Austin, so she has deep ‘old Austin’ cred. When she came to the science group, she was at the Balcones Service Center and at Life Sciences before she became the PMA Librarian in 1991.

Molly took on a formidable group of traditionalists in her disciplines, and despite a rough couple of years during our first wave of serious journal cancellations, she rose above it and developed strong working relationships with all three groups, working back and forth across the lines to develop new technologies and services while maintaining the core capabilities that her scientists required. She has also wrestled with the vagaries of her space, spearheading a number of improvements that made PMA a better and more user friendly library.

Molly took a keen interest in our organization, and has served on numerous projects, committees and task forces through the years, as well as in the profession, where she has been very active in the Physics Mathematics Astronomy Division of the Special Libraries Association and served on a number of science publishing advisory groups. Her colleagues know her as someone willing to ask difficult questions, and work with a team to find good solutions. Molly has been a real contributor, a good colleague, and a friend. I am grateful to have had her as a member of our team, and we will all miss her.

Scholars Commons Pilot “Sneak Preview”

Attendees see conceptual slides for the future Scholars Commons.

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.

Lorraine Haricombe with representatives of Graduate Studies.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.

Rallying the Next Generation of African Leaders

YALI participants on-site at PCL.

As the Business Librarian at UT Libraries I frequently work with entrepreneurs from the McCombs School of Business and sometimes from the Cockrell School of Engineering. For the first time this summer I had the honor of working with a group of young entrepreneurs from Africa.

The 25 attendees here at UT Austin were part of the 500 Mandela Washington Fellows for Young African Leaders Institute (YALI) selected from over 40,000 applications for this prestigious program. President Obama invited the group to the U.S. from Sub-Saharan Africa as part of his signature effort to invest in the next generation of global leaders. Twenty universities were selected to host the fellows. UT Austin chose the theme of Business & Entrepreneurship for its institute.

The UT Austin YALI Fellows are creating and/or growing businesses back home. Their interests are broad; women’s and children’s health initiatives, farming, training computer scientists, and translation services. One of the most inspirational companies is one that trains women incarcerated for prostitution to become fashion designers and tailors. The fashion company hires these women upon their release thereby improving the women’s situations and helping them stay out of prison.

Just like I would for students on our campus, I provided a business research workshop to the YALI group and coordinated with the UT Austin International Office to develop a course guide and a hands-on research workshop for these entrepreneurs. In the workshop we practiced search strategies and I introduced them to resources containing market research, economic, and demographic data.

At the end of their UT visit, the Fellows participated in a pitch competition in front of a three-judge panel of successful Austin entrepreneurs. I saw first-hand how they incorporated their research into their pitch for future funding. The judges asked tough questions about growth and sustainability. The Fellows handled the inquiry with aplomb and you could see the passion they all had for their projects.

To cap off the 6-week event all 500 Fellows attended a summit in Washington, D.C. where they met with Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama. At the summit President Obama announced the program was to be renamed the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders to honor Nelson Mandela. Not only is the program going to continue next year, but the President has also committed to double the number of participants to 1000 for the summer of 2016.

I hope that the University of Texas will be hosting again next year and that I have the opportunity and privilege to work with these global entrepreneurs as they go out and change the world!


A Poet in the Science Library

“Backmasking” by Harold Whit Williams.

One wouldn’t necessarily expect to find a poet in the stacks of a science library, but then again, creativity often occurs in the least anticipated of places.

The Life Science Library boasts among its staff a prize-winning poet, as Library Specialist Harold Whit Williams has garnered praise for his work, which is both a catalog of his experience as a musician, and reflective of his southern heritage. His most recent collection of poems, Backmasking, earned Williams the 2013 Robert Phillips Chapman Poetry Chapbook Prize from Texas Review Press, and his poem “Blues Dreams,” received the 2014 Mississippi Review Poetry Prize.

In some ways, it would seem to make perfect sense that Williams would understand the finer points of cadence and pentameter  — he’s also the guitarist for notable Austin pop band Cotton Mather.

Williams’ first collection of poetry, Waiting For The Fire To Go Out, was published by Finishing Line Press, and his work has appeared in numerous literary journals.

Whit kindly indulged a line of questioning about his poetry, his music and his life at the Libraries. 

When did you start writing poetry? Was it an outcropping of your music?

Harold Whit Williams: I’ve been writing poetry off and on since college days, but started giving serious attention to it, and publishing, now for about seven years.

Strange, but poetry is a totally separate thing to me from songwriting. As a guitarist first, my songs, or the guitar parts I play in Cotton Mather, happen musically first. Then lyrics come later. But with poetry, it’s all wordplay from the get-go, and the musicality in the words themselves tend to direct where I go in a poem.

Does the inspiration for poetry and music come from the same place, even though the jumping off point is different? Or are they driven by different urges? 

HWW: Good question. What makes me plug in an electric guitar and make loud horrendous noise has to come from a much different urge than the one making me get to a quiet place, alone, to jot down a poem. Continue reading

Future Tense

PCL

As many know, Fred Heath announced his retirement from his position as Vice Provost and Director of the University of Texas Libraries last spring. After over 30 years of work in library administration and 10 years at UT Libraries, we will say goodbye to Dr. Heath on August 31.

Contemplating the future of libraries, specifically our UT Libraries, has been a big part of Dr. Heath’s job.

In honor of Fred’s retirement, the University Federal Credit Union is making a gift to establish the Fred and Jean Heath Libraries Tomorrow Fund.  This endowment will provide funds to address future unknown needs and enhancements of the University of Texas Libraries.

The Libraries Tomorrow Fund is also an alternative for donors who want to support the Libraries, but who are not ready to make an investment of $25,000 or more. This fund allows donors to establish an endowment over a timeframe that is convenient for them. This is a unique opportunity for a donor to have an immediate impact without fully funding an endowment until they are able to.

The best part is that the University Federal Credit Union has pledged to match gifts up to $25,000, which means that your gift today will be doubled and have an even greater impact.

Any gift contributed to the Libraries Tomorrow Fund will help the UT Libraries of the future today.

Give today and plan for tomorrow.