Imagine this — your student just returned to campus from Thanksgiving Break and realized that finals are just around the corner. What do they do? Panic? Eat more mashed potatoes or pie and try to forget about it? I’ll never argue with more pie, but when your student calls to talk about this stressful time, tell them that instead of panicking or eating their feelings, they can take advantage of services offered within the libraries.
PCL houses several partner organizations who offer great services to students:
The Writing Center (in PCL) offers help at any point in the writing process. Tell your student that good writers seek feedback! Appointments here
The Sanger Center’s Public Speaking Center is now open in PCL – their consultants can offer suggestions on any presentation or speech assignment. Appointments here
Tutoring for intro-level Calculus, Biology, and Chemistry courses is now available in PCL’s UFCU room. See the schedule
The UT Libraries house many new services for students, but librarians have always been available to help with research. Students can ask us questions about finding sources of information, about choosing or narrowing a topic, about when and how to cite sources, and about which sources of information are credible. We are available to help in several ways. Your student can:
When Teaching and Learning Services initiated the PCL Media Lab pilot phase in the Fall 2014 semester, we opted to experiment with a unique staffing model. Partnering with the University Leadership Network, a similarly youthful campus initiative, we developed a tiered, three-year internship program that would synthesize our staffing needs with an effort to cultivate digital media expertise in the Libraries.
In Year 1, interns undergo basic training in audio, graphics and video software, following step-by-step tutorials that we developed in house. By the end of their first semester, we expect our interns to have a shared vocabulary in multiple areas of media production. They assemble a short podcast using Audacity, then reconstruct a digital collage in Photoshop, and finally use public domain footage to edit a short video with music in Adobe Premiere Pro. For the Spring 2015 semester, we encouraged our interns to specialize in a software area of their own choosing, and to propose a project with the most appropriate software. That approach resulted in two short films, a digital music composition, the first phase of a student organization’s website, a 3-D modeling project and a graphic guide to using the pilot lab’s scanners. Furthermore, the Lab Assistants produced tutorial guides to help users understand the workflows and technical vocabulary required to produce this work.
Starting in Fall 2015, we wanted the Year 2 Lab Assistants to improve on their existing strengths, develop their areas of interest and, when possible, create work that could benefit UT Libraries as an institution. What follows is a summary of the work done this year by our ULN Lab Assistants as part of the digital media training that forms the backbone of their internship, and helps us to offer expertise to users in the PCL Media Lab.
During the first semester, Product Design junior Whitney Chen and Fine Arts sophomore Jessica Vacek collaborated to produce a desktop calendar, copies of which were printed and sent to Libraries’ supporters. The pair took original photographs in different library branches around the 40 Acres, then embellished those pictures using Adobe Illustrator
Later in the semester, Whitney designed UT Libraries’ annual holiday card, which is distributed stakeholders and peers nationwide.
In the spring semester, Jessica took a turn doing some work for Communications by designing our popular Greetings from the Library postcard, distributed for free in PCL and featuring iconic images of the branch libraries (such FAL’s hanging piano).
In another graphic combining freehand drawing with Adobe Illustrator, Jessica also gave us a new design for the birthday cards that UT Libraries sends to supporters. Much of Jessica’s artistic training has been in freehand techniques and photography (check out some of her work here: http://operation-jessica.tumblr.com/), so her internship in the PCL Media Lab has helped her to integrate more traditional media with new digital tools.
Whitney was equally busy with clever graphics work this semester, this time training her designer’s eye on promotional materials for one PCL’s most popular events, the visits from dog therapy groups. We’ve featured some of Whitney’s work on Tex Libris before and there is more to view on her portfolio website, so we’ll just let these two pieces speak for themselves.
Video production and editing software is some of the most popular in the lab, so it’s no surprise that it was an equally popular area for our Lab Assistants to choose for specialty training. We featured one of these projects in Tex Libris earlier in the year, recounting how, using Adobe Premiere Pro, Charisma Soriano (Junior, Marketing + Film and Television), Lucia Aremu (Junior, Government) and Jocelyn Mendoza (Junior, Bilingual Education) “organized, shot, edited and produced a short documentary film” about the Freud Reia punk collection that the Fine Arts Library had recently obtained.
The video team took a more whimsical approach for their next project, using iMovie to stitch together a dreamy snapshot of life after hours in the PCL.
We unfortunately lost Jocelyn Mendoza to another internship at the beginning of the spring semester, but the video team benefitted from the addition of Computer Science junior Victor Maestas, who has been active in amateur filmmaking since high school. Working with Librarian for First-Year Programs Sarah Brandt, Victor, Charisma and Lucia produced an Orientation to UT Libraries video that will be used to help incoming freshmen get to know their way around different branches and library services.
With the increasing popularity of 3-D printing, and especially in light of the incipient makerspace in the Fine Arts Library, we are grateful to have the expertise of Thang Truong, a Biology junior, in the PCL Media Lab. Thang began experimenting with Autodesk’s Maya software last year, and has significantly expanded his knowledge to include 3-D printing with Sketchup and more complex modelling techniques in Maya and Blender, another application offered in the Media Lab. The images below feature examples of Thang’s work, including an iPhone case that he printed through UT’s Innovation Station.
The PCL Media Lab Assistants continue to exceed our expectations and do a terrific job of helping our patrons in the lab. Next year we aim to offer more one-on-one and small group consultations with the Lab Assistants, allowing them to share their expertise with an increasingly large user base.
“We will do things differently, and we will do different things.”
These were among the first words that Lorraine Haricombe offered to Libraries staff on her arrival one year ago, and that exhortation has been realized in large ways as a new strategic vision becomes reality.
While some changes are more subtle, the way that the human resources of the Libraries are being adapted to the evolving needs of our users and to technological advancements is distinctive. New faces are filling positions that are outside the traditional library mold as a means of addressing new currents and new fields of inquiry in ways that take advantage of opportunities in the digital realm, as well as within traditional institutional frameworks.
Over the past year, the Libraries have hired for a succession of new titles that were necessitated by adjustments in university priorities and developments in the practices of scholarship.
One of the first moves made to reimagine the organizational structure within the Libraries occurred as the result of a vacancy at the Architecture & Planning Library, when head librarian Beth Dodd resumed her curatorial work in the Alexander Architectural Archive. Rather than simply refill the position as was originally planned, Haricombe worked with her executive team to adapt the title to a larger current in the field of digital humanities — an area of research and teaching at the intersection of computing and the disciplines of the humanities. The Libraries hired Katie Pierce Meyer as Humanities Librarian for Architecture and Planning both to take on a role as both administrative lead of the APL and also to focus on how to develop efforts in the digital humanities at a branch level that could be scaled to an organizational-wide scope.
The Libraries were in the process of reviewing its gifts policy even before Lorraine Haricombe arrived, and early decisions about putting controls on the intake of unsolicited gifts meant that head of gifts processing Sean O’Bryan could be redeployed toward another important priority. Sean was hired to the position of Collections Strategist, where he has become the catalyst for development of a new strategic policy for collections management. His work now is core to the improvement of efforts to move from print to electronic resources.
As African & African American Studies has joined the predominant fields at the university, the need for bibliographer support from the Libraries has become clear. Especially relevant to our existing resources is the growing focus on the African Diaspora in Latin America and the Caribbean, and with the recent attention given to our southern neighbors by UT President Greg Fenves, we recently hired Rachel Winston as Black Diaspora Archivist at the Benson Latin American Collection. Winston will work to enhance the Benson’s holdings while developing university collaborations to strengthen scholarship in this burgeoning field.
The importance of digital collections and electronic resources remains on an upward trajectory, so there is a constant need to reconsider strategy for making the most of campus technology for institutional gain. Between the expansion of digitization efforts, the prioritization of Open Access, and the unabated growth of Big Data in research, finding ways to manage a new universe of information has become essential. Jessica Trelogan recently became our new Data Management Coordinator to build, maintain and enhance the data services deployed by the Libraries. She’ll work closely with our campus partners at places like the Texas Advanced Computing Center and Information Technology Services to ensure that we’re making the best use of resources across the Forty Acres.
As digital collections continue to grow, the need has arisen for a dedicated custodian to manage both the born-digital and digitized materials that increasingly are the currency of library collections. Ashley Adair joined the Libraries Preservation Department last year as Digital Archivist to take over stewardship of digitized collections across its various libraries and archives, where she plays an active role in the acquisition, appraisal, arrangement and description of these modern core resources.
Technology has also created new opportunities for study at UT, and not just in the STEM fields. The university recently announced the formation of a degree in Creative Arts and Entertainment Technology within the College of Fine Arts, and the students of that program will rely heavily on a space being developed at the Fine Arts Library. The Foundry — a digitally-focused maker space within the library — will feature a recording studio, fiber art studio, video production studio, gaming studio, digital media lab and more. To support the student needs both within the new program and across relevant technology and design studies at UT, the Libraries created a librarian position for Arts and Creative Technologies, and hired FAL veteran Boris Brodsky. Brodsky will be the custodian of the Foundry, and will build from scratch the liaison role that the Libraries have with students and faculty in this exciting new program.
These are just the initial movements of a transformational time at the University of Texas Libraries, where we’re doing different things and doing things differently.
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.
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 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.
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.
A pair ofNEH 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.
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.
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.
From Larayne Dallas
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.
From Liz DeHart
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!
From Dennis Trombatore
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.
We talk much about the collections (physical and digital) and spaces at the UT Libraries, but there’s a significant technology infrastructure in place to facilitate access and digitally preserve the Libraries’ massive assemblage of electronic resources. To maintain those important tools, a highly-trained cadre of technology professionals is constantly on call to respond to issues, discover and implement technological innovations and provide for the support needs of staff.
As the Libraries have continued to explore ways to expand services to address the needs of campus, we’ve considered how we might leverage this technical expertise to provide support beyond the Libraries.
Chris Carter — the Libraries’ Director of Planning and Operations — was approached by representatives of the McCombs School of Business after they heard a description of the cost model for supporting UT Libraries labs. McCombs Director David Burns wondered if that support could be scaled to provide lab support in the Business School. Carter and his staff ran the numbers and took the proposal to Libraries administration, who roundly backed the evaluative project, and after a pilot period in Summer 2015, Libraries’ IT Infrastructure staff took over the tech support of a lab at the McCombs School.
Under the terms of service, the Business School purchases the hardware and secures licensing of specialized software, and the Libraries provides installation and support of operating systems, applications and updates for the computers; when there’s a problem with a PC, Libraries IT staff respond to address it. Fees charged per computer by the Libraries was determined to allow for the accommodation of additional IT staff should growth of the lab make it necessary.
Along with the branches, this brings the support coverage area maintained by Libraries staff to 14 locations, and Carter feels that there is room to expand to provide the service to other interested parties on campus.
“We structure the service so that it fits into our current, lean and efficient desktop support approach,” says Carter. “The cost per PC for support is intended to allow us to add an FTE if we increase the service so much that it needs an extra person. For now, we just rely on the excellent and efficient people we currently have. In particular, the excellent systems administration skills of David Roberts makes this possible.”
The College of Natural Sciences recently contributed 20 additional units to the Mallet Chemistry Library — bringing the number of computers to 32 — and provided specialized software, but, in this case, the Libraries simply took ownership of the expanded lab. The opportunities for growth in the third-party support model for campus computer labs, though, is extensive thanks to an ever-present need for technology.
Carter thinks the Libraries are well-suited to play the support role for other campus partners by virtue of what we’ve learned from internal efforts.
“We see the service from the perspective of supporting a high volume 24/7 kind of operation in PCL and extend the same service offering to anyone who wants to have a library lab in their space,” Carter says. “The McCombs lab is a 24/7 facility for business students and we’ve been able to both replicate what is available in PCL and customize it for their needs. It’s a good model of a basic, replicable service that will both scale and also allow for local customization depending on the discipline.”
As the end of another semester and year approaches, I find myself looking to the future, defining new goals, and exploring exciting possibilities, especially since this is the new normal at the UT Libraries today! However, I recently received an email that made me reflect on a past partnership that has blossomed into something greater than I ever anticipated.
The email came from Lisa Hernandez, currently the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo College, Career & Technology Academy Librarian and the Texas Library Association’s Librarian of the Year. In 2013, Lisa had been one of ten Texas high school librarians selected to attend the UT Libraries Information Literacy Summit, a day long summit about information literacy. Information Literacy (IL) is broadly defined by the ability to find and think critically about information and is not only a crucial skill for life-long learning, it is also one of the six requirements of UT’s School of Undergraduate Studies Signature Course program, a required interdisciplinary foundation course for all incoming UT freshman.
During the Summit, high school librarians from across Texas and librarians from the UT Libraries Teaching and Learning Services department shared expertise, identified overlapping skills, and created mutually-beneficial instructional content in order to better understand the types of issues and needs we have at both ends of the high-school to college transition. UT librarians shared real syllabi used in freshman courses and we worked collaboratively to design activities and assignments that would help augment information literacy development at both levels, a need identified in national research conducted by Project Information Literacy.
What sounds better than saving money, adopting healthier habits, and conserving the Earth’s natural resources for future generations to enjoy and benefit from? The idea of sustainability is defined by the University’s Office of Sustainability as “societal efforts that meet the needs of present users without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs”. It is an idea that is rapidly becoming mainstream. The University took a lead in the area of sustainability six years ago when it created the Office of Sustainability. The Texas Legislature showed its commitment to campus efforts in 2011 by authorizing a new student fee called the Green Fee. In 2015 UT Libraries is showing its leadership on campus by becoming one of the partners in the pilot project of a new student run program called Green Offices.
Even before the creation of this new program UT Libraries actively embraced green principles by making it standard procedure to do such things as responsibly recycle printer cartridges and send its used furniture, computer, and electronic equipment to University Surplus for reuse. And this isn’t the first time the UT Libraries has demonstrated its commitment to responsible use of resources. Several years ago UT Libraries staff formed their own “Green Team” to run an in-house recycling program. The Team provided containers in the Perry-Castañeda Library for various types of recyclable materials; collecting those materials themselves on a twice weekly basis, and coordinating with University Facilities to pick up the recyclables and deliver them to a recycling center.
The Green Offices program aims to up the ante by providing departments and units on campus a means by which they can measure how green they already are and shows them how they can become even greener. UT student Chantelle Baretto (Plan II, International and Global Studies) came up with the idea and two other UT students, Juhi Amodwala (Management of Information Systems, McCombs School of Business) and Hannah Bevers (Government), created the survey and act as the current coordinators of the Green Offices program.
So of course Libraries staff were eager to get involved. InterLibrary Services and Fine Arts Libraries Circulation both volunteered their areas to be involved in the pilot part of the program hoping to encourage other areas of campus to get involved when the full program rolls out in February 2016. The UT Libraries has always been committed to meeting the information and research needs of the University’s students and faculty, but it also acts as an active supporter of student leadership helping to advance and promote ideas embraced by the rising generation of young people who will become the leaders of tomorrow.
As the fall semester kicks into full swing and due dates for papers and projects start to loom, the reference staff at the Perry-Castañeda Library is gearing up to best serve the student population at UT both in person and online. One of the key access points for many students seeking help in the evening and nighttime hours is the Ask a Librarian service, which is staffed by graduate students in UT’s School of Information. The program welcomed four new interns over the summer, all of whom are excited to serve both the UT community and the broader, international base from which they receive questions.
While the Ask a Librarian interns each take multiple shifts staffing our instant messaging-based reference service, they also gain experience in several other areas of academic librarianship. Answering email questions received from patrons worldwide is an important aspect of the internship program, and allows the interns to interact with a very diverse range of questions across a broad spectrum of disciplines.
Staffing the Information & Research Help Desk in person at the PCL is another vital component of the internship, and provides the Ask a Librarian staff with valuable in-person reference experience. “Staffing the chat, email, and Research Help desk has been an amazing learning experience about serving the varied information literacy needs of a vast research institution with incredible diversity,” said Christina Gasull, one of the new interns. Laura Gienger, a returning intern appointed last spring, agrees: “The most interesting part of this position so far has been getting glimpses of all the different research projects and papers that students are currently working on!”
Communication and collaboration with full-time library staff is another important aspect of the internship program. In addition to working their digital and in-person reference shifts, all of the current Ask a Librarian interns have taken on additional projects in fields they are passionate about, working with librarians to develop and carry out work in areas of their interest. Hayley Morgernstern is exploring subject librarianship in Gender and Sexuality Studies, Ian Goodale is working with the Slavic bibliographer to research and supplement online research guides and do cataloging work, Robin Vickery is creating stack guides for the dance, music, and theatre materials at the Fine Arts Library, Laura has worked with the digitizing of materials, and Christina is currently helping to revise the PCL’s Youth Collection.
All of the interns are passionate about serving the diverse communities of patrons they encounter. As Robin said, projects “that advance the library’s mission to support its community of patrons and researchers are what interest me most about librarianship, so I am excited for the opportunity to be so involved!”
The University of Texas Libraries is pleased to announce a new collection in the Life Science Library, the Gillson Longenbaugh Foundation Oncology Research Collection. This new collection was funded by a generous contribution of $50,000 by the Gillson Longenbaugh Foundation in honor of Alta G. Longenabugh. The Gillson Longenbaugh Foundation supports medical research across Texas, identifying researchers and centers at the cutting-edge of their fields. This gift will enable the purchase of substantial electronic resources to support cancer research at UT.
More and more STEM researchers rely on electronic resources, but collection funding is inadequate to address the rising costs of these materials. UT Libraries is working closely with the Dell Medical School to ensure our collection will provide the basic fundamental resources necessary for medical research. As the Dell Medical School has not yet hired a Medical School Librarian, Nancy Elder, Life Science Head Librarian, has stepped in to assist with resource selection. This gift comes at a vital time, as after over thirty years of service, Nancy Elder is retiring in mid-November. Elder has been an incredible asset to the UT Libraries, enhancing the collections and bringing a wonderful passion and spirit to her position. She will be sorely missed by the users of the Life Science Library and her colleagues at the UT Libraries.
UT Libraries would like to extend thanks to the Gillson Longenbaugh Foundation and in particular, board members E.W. “Ned” Torian, Dr. Neal R. Pellis, and foundation president Lawrence I. Levy. Special thanks to UT Libraries Advisory Council Chair JD Torian who facilitated this gift.
We also thank Nancy Elder for her years of service and her recent efforts for the Dell Medical School. If you would like to honor Nancy Elder and/or help purchase similar resources, please support the Life Science Library.
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.