Benson a la Mexicana

When I first walked into the Benson Latin American Collection to do research during my graduate studies, I did not imagine that four years later my boss would ask me to travel to Mexico City to represent the Benson and University of Texas Libraries at an awards ceremony with the mayor of Mexico City and a luncheon hosted by the Libraries for Texas Exes in Mexico. And now, it has been a week since arriving back from Mexico City and I still cannot believe I did it. And I have not really recuperated from the journey. Oh, believe me, it was a wonderful trip, just way too fast and cut way too short.

David Block receives the Medalla 1808 from Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard.

When Dr. David Block received electronic word (in an e-mail) of the Benson being awarded the Medalla 1808, I don’t know if we all realized immediately what an honor it was. Then after an exhaustive search online to make sure David had not just received an e-mail from Ed McMahon suggesting “you may be a millionaire”, we began to see the reality of and the potential in receiving such an honor. Historically, the medal is presented on behalf of Mexico City to persons for significant contributions to the study and development of Mexican history and culture. And now, the Benson has become the first foreign institutional recipient of the medal.  Wow… Of course we all knew the importance of the Benson, but now Mexico City Mayor, Marcelo Ebrard would present us with an international honor to reinforce what we all know to be true.

Our Vice Provost Dr. Fred Heath and Director for Development Gregory Perrin knew this would be a wonderful opportunity to invite our alumni from Mexico City, and the surrounding cities, to attend the ceremony. They decided it would also be quite advantageous to host a luncheon following. And this is where I came in. Part of the role I play in working for the Libraries is as an event coordinator. I love it because of the opportunities of excitement that abound, meeting new people and creating a delightful atmosphere for the libraries’ constituent; although, a first trip to the interior of Mexico and hosting a lunch would definitely be something extraordinary. Continue reading

Of Pioneers and Memories

iStock_000000153645XSmallDuring the hectic weekday morning routine most of us call normal these days, an obituary in the Austin American Statesman begged my attention. Sgt. Major Mary Katherine Steinocher died June 25th. I didn’t know her, but the picture of a young, smiling woman wearing her Women’s Army Corps uniform compelled me to put down my toasted bagel and read on.

In short, Steinocher was a young woman who enlisted in the Army’s WAC program in 1941 and retired in May 1964. Almost 24 years of military service was condensed into a brief sentence, a modest footnote: “She received many medals, awards, and decorations in the service of her country”. It seems to me Sgt. Steinocher was a pioneer, serving in the military during a time when it really didn’t know what to do with women wanting to serve their country.

It got me thinking about my grandmother, Louise Jackman Orner. She was a pioneer of another sort – a 1921 graduate of Oregon State University (OSU), She went on to become an associate professor of secretarial science at OSU, at a time when society didn’t really know what to do with women wanting professional careers. Another full and complete life, condensed into another brief sentence: “After teaching at Centralia Business College, she became an associate professor in Secretarial Science at Oregon State University, a position she held for 35 years”.

My family created a memorial scholarship at Oregon State to honor Louise. We all feel a connectedness to the institution that my grandmother loved so dearly. We also feel connected to the generations of students her scholarship has supported. I’ll even admit to becoming a bit undone this morning when revisiting the OSU website to see Grandma’s name among the many memorial scholarships noted. It’s as if she hasn’t really left us – her spirit and love of education continue on today, nearly 30 years to the day since her death.

My profession allows me the honor of talking with people who wish to memorialize their loved ones with a gift to the University of Texas Libraries. I tell them their gift will come back to them a thousand times over. I tell them it will keep the name and memories of their loved one fresh and new. If asked, I will tell them it is because of a memorial scholarship created in loving memory of my grandmother, a pioneer.

Architecture and Planning Exhibit Celebrates Mexico 2010

In recognition of the dual celebration of the bicentennial of Mexico’s Independence and centenary of the Mexican Revolution – both occurring in 2010 – the Architecture and Planning Library at The University of Texas at Austin is hosting “Maya Architecture: Selections from the George F. and Geraldine Andrews Collection.”

The exhibition highlights materials from an exhaustive and fully documented visual record of architecture of the lowland Maya area that is part of the Library’s collection.

In the late 1950s, University of Oregon architecture professor George Andrews and his wife Geraldine visited the Yucatán for the first time, and for the next forty years they devoted their professional lives to the study and documentation of Maya architecture.

The couple’s extended research produced a remarkable collection that includes an architectural data bank representing 850 buildings at 240 archaeological sites in the lowland Maya area.

The Andrews Collection was donated to the university by the couple in 2000.

The exhibition captures a small portion of George and Geraldine Andrews’ effort to document and reconstruct the art and architecture of the ancient lowland Maya. Samples from the collection reveal aspects of Andrews’ scholarship, collecting and creative talents by featuring a selection of buildings, monuments, graffiti and the resulting work conducted in the archives.

Meghan Rubenstein, an art history Ph.D. student, assisted Donna Coates and Beth Dodd of the Alexander Architectural Archive in the curation of the Andrews exhibition.

The exhibit will be on display in the Architecture and Planning Library reading room in Battle Hall through September 2010.

For a first hand perspective on the production of the exhibit, head over to the Architecture & Planning Library’s blog, APLHighlights.

Fisher Gets Call for U.S. News “Best Colleges” Feature

utlibs_usnewsAs most parents of college-bound kids know, U.S. News and World Report‘s “America’s Best Colleges” issue is a standard read and good general tool for assessing colleges based on rankings in a range of categories. So when First-year Experience Librarian Cindy Fisher was called by one of the magazine’s reporters earlier this week to answer some questions about considering libraries in the process of choosing a college, she jumped at the opportunity to represent the University – and to show her chops, to boot.

The full article – “4 Reasons Why the Library Should Affect Your College Choice” – is available online.

Benson First Organization to Win Noted Award

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

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

Congratulations to the Benson for this much deserved acknowledgment.

More information can be found here.

Win Tickets to The Real Dr. Strangelove

Texas Performing Arts has provided another pair of tickets to one of its great 2010-2011 Season events, and this time one lucky winner gets a night at the theater.

Renowned radio company L.A. Theatre Works (LATW) takes us back to the advent of the atomic age with its performance of Peter Goodchild’s The Real Dr. Strangelove: Edward Teller and the Battle for the H-Bomb.

The story follows “father of the hydrogen bomb” Edward Teller as he and “father of the atomic bomb” Robert Oppenheimer come to ideological heads over the future of nuclear weapons.

Teller is rumored to have been the inspiration for Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove.

An explosive evening of theater awaits the winner, so visit the Libraries Research and Win Contest #6 page and fill out a brief questionnaire.

Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, June 10. One winner will be chosen randomly from the correct responses and announced on Twitter and Facebook on Friday, June 11. Contest is open to everyone.

Teach-the-Teacher Approach Wins Award

longaker
Dr. Mark Longaker

Annually, the UT System Library Directors confer an award to a UT System faculty or collaborative faculty group to recognize the efforts of integrating library resources into course curriculum.

This year, thanks to his innovative integration of library resources in E398T and RHE306, his collaboration with librarians and the effective use of technology to promote information literacy in multiple courses,  the UT Library Directors’ Award for Excellence in Library Resources Integration was presented to UT faculty member Dr. Mark Longaker at the Innovations in Online Learning Conference (IOL) on May 27.

Research and writing go hand-in-hand and for years, librarians in Library Instruction Services (LIS) have been helping instructors in the basic undergraduate writing course (RHE 306) teach their students research skills.  This approach traditionally took the form of one class visit to the libraries where students would try to learn all they needed to know to find and evaluate information for their writing projects in 50 minutes, but that expectation never seemed realistic.

Over the past year, LIS librarians reinvigorated their approach by partnering with Dr. Longaker – Associate Professor in the Department of Rhetoric & Writing and head of the department’s Undergraduate Curriculum Committee – to create a teach-the-teacher model.  In partnership with Dr. Longaker and RHE 306 instructors, librarians developed resource guides, assignments and lesson plans for RHE 306 instructors to use to teach research skills over the course of the semester in their regular classrooms.  Students were better able to learn important information literacy skills because they were integrated into the class over the course of the semester, so that they could all be introduced and re-introduced at the time of need.  The materials, gathered together in a wiki, were editable by librarians and instructors to ensure that the learning outcomes of RHE 306 were supported. The success of this project was recognized by UT System Library Directors at the recent IOL Conference in Austin.

You can learn more about LIS and their efforts at promoting information literacy in the Spring 2009 issue of the Libraries Newsletter.

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

New Biography on Retired Dean and McKinney Supporter Gloyna

gloyna_book_coverThis biography, Reflections of a Soldier and Scholar, by Davis Ford is packed with Earnest Gloyna’s fascinating recollections of farming, public education and family life in the Texas Panhandle during the Depression as well as his experiences in WWII, in graduate school at Johns Hopkins, and, of course, his professional life as a consultant/businessman, professor and dean. Of particular interest is his early life in the Texas Panhandle picking cotton, cutting milo, going to rural schools, learning to type and meeting his future wife, Agnes. Two of these would be helpful in his later life—typing and Agnes.

The story of how he chose graduate school over working for the U.S. Public Health Service after the war is classic Earnest. He decided to go to graduate school instead of joining the Public Heath Service because they would only pay him as a Captain. This decision changed everything—Earnest went to graduate school and became Dr. Gloyna.

Earnest has had an amazing career as an educator and researcher, as a consultant working on environmental problems all over the world, and as a dean. Under his leadership the College of Engineering grew enormously and improved its graduate programs by hiring highly qualified faculty from all over the United States. This faculty would help make the Cockrell School a research powerhouse.  Another of his great accomplishments was when he helped the Engineering Library grow from a barely competent collection to one of the best in the US. Continue reading

Win Tickets to The Klezmatics

It’s time for another Texas Performing Arts/University of Texas Libraries contest, and this one offers a chance to win tickets to the neo-klezmer stylings of The Klezmatics. This contest is in promotion of TPA’s 2010-2011 season.

Formed almost a quarter-century ago in the East Village, The Klezmatics genre-bending approach to the traditional Yiddish music style has earned them critical acclaim and fan loyalty. 2006’s Wonder Wheel – the group’s eighth album and a Grammy winner – was a klezmer take on the lyrics of Woody Guthrie.

The Klezmatics will play Bass Concert Hall at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, November 30.

For your chance to win, visit the Libraries Research and Win Contest #5 page and fill out a brief questionnaire.

Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, May 26. One winner will be chosen randomly from the correct responses and announced on Twitter and Facebook on Thursday, May 27.