As the university wraps up this year’s Fleur Cowles Symposium “Gabriel García Márquez: His Life and Legacy,” it’s worth noting the Libraries (specifically the Benson Latin American Collection and LLILAS Benson) involvement in support of the noted Colombian author’s archive at the Harry Ransom Center.
The Benson’s Mexican materials bibliographer Jose Montelongo accompanied Ransom Center director Stephen Ennis on a trip to Mexico City, where García Márquez spent his final years, to review the archive materials, and upon the announcement of the acquisition, Montelongo responded to media inquiriesproviding perspectives on the importance of the archive to the university and researchers, and on the author’s station in the literary canon.
As the premiere Latin American special collection in the western hemisphere, the Benson will provide the complementary resources and support for researchers who come to Austin to utilize the García Márquez archive, further strengthening the partnership between the two institutions.
It’s certainly the case that our perception of the world’s geography is rooted in our experience with the maps we’ve encountered, developed and designed over eons by both hand and machine. Even though we may have become increasingly reliant on disembodied voices to lead us where we need to go, the archetype for understanding the concept of location which we carry in our minds was instilled by the road guides of family vacations, massive retractable world maps of the elementary classroom and spinning globes of our past.
Equal parts art and science, maps are one of the most effective methods for conveying information visually in virtually any field of inquiry. In the miniaturization of space that is necessary to explain vast areas on a personal scale is a documentation of history and of change; of character and personality, value and values; of plant and animal; of health and illness, feast and famine; of motion and stasis; and of nearly any aspect of life and place that can be categorized for better understanding the world in which we live.
And that, perhaps, is what makes the map collection at the Perry-Castañeda Library so incredibly valuable. Its scope in both size and subject is immense enough to maintain an intrinsic value — both as historical artifact and as a tool of modern research and reference — that goes unaffected by the passage of time.
Though the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection is considered a general collection, it’s anything but. Residing on the first floor of the university’s flagship library, it features more than 250,000 cartographic items representing all areas of the world. And its online component is not only one of the most highly visited websites at the university — garnering nearly 8 million visits annually — but is in the top ten most popular results for a Google search of “maps.”
The university began informally collecting maps previously — at the General Libraries, but also through efforts at the Geology Library, the Barker Texas History Center and the Benson Latin American Collection — but it wasn’t until the PCL opened in 1977 that the Map Collection was established on the first floor of the building as an independent collection.
The core of the collection emerged with the acquisition of the U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps, which date from the late 19th century and cover the entire United States, U.S. territories and other parts of the world where governments contracted U.S.G.S. for mapping, such as Saudi Arabia.
The collection also houses an extensive collection of atlases, from a street atlas of El Paso to the National Atlas of India. The library also purchases commercial and foreign government-issued topographic map series, country, city and thematic maps. The collection also includes a small but popular collection of plastic raised-relief maps and globes, not only of earth, but of the Moon, planets and other various celestial bodies.
Most of the maps in the collection date from 1900 to the present, and the collection is constantly being updated with newer materials, and complements a number of significant historical map collections housed on campus in the Center for American History (historical maps of Texas), the Benson Latin American Collection, the Harry Ransom Center and the Walter Geology Library.
Paul Rascoe — the Libraries’ Documents, Maps, & Electronic Info Services Librarian — has been the driving force behind the collection at PCL, especially in the formulation and execution of the collection’s online component. And it hasn’t hurt to have the planets align, at times.
“In 1994, we decided that we were going to scan maps,” says Rascoe. “We had a Macintosh computer and a Mac scanner, which I believe cost $100. We had a plan to put them in sort of a web menuing system called Gopher, but fortunately, simultaneously with our wanting to put maps online, the first web browser was introduced in that year.” Continue reading →
The South African Coetzee has a fifty-year history with the university, earning his Ph.D. in English, linguistics and Germanic languages in 1969. He’s kept close ties with UT, teaching at the Michener Center for Writers in 1995, and most recently, visiting campus last year to give a lecture as part of the Graduate School’s 1910 Society Lecture Series, which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the school.
Calling all scholars! The Harry Ransom Center has opened their annual Fellowship application period for 2012-13.
Who wouldn’t want to get their paws dirty digging through the personal papers of such luminary writers as Graham Greene, Anne Sexton, Norman Mailer and David Foster Wallace? Or wile away the time wading through ephemera from Gone With The Wind, Spellbound, The Third Man or any number of other David O. Selznick productions? Or just bask in contemplative imagery from the massive Gernsheim photography archive? With more than 50 fellowships available annually, there’s no reason not to apply.
And the Libraries’ 9 million+ volumes and vast digital resources and special collections are here to support your work…as if you needed more motivation to follow the link below.
The companion exhibit at FAL, “Tennessee Williams, the College Years” features a limited number of items from Williams’s time in the academy – both at the University of Missouri, Columbia, and at the University of Iowa – including photos, correspondence, manuscripts and more.
The exhibition opens today and runs through July 31 in the Roberts Reading Room at FAL, where it can be viewed Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and weekends from noon to 5 p.m.
In case you weren’t aware, 2010 marks two major anniversaries in the history of Mexico – the bicentennial of Mexican Independence and the centennial of the Revolution – and in recognition of those milestones, a number of events will be taking place around the university and in the Austin community. The Libraries are particularly attuned to the celebrations due to our oversight of the preeminent Benson Latin American Collection, so we’ll be keeping tabs on the goings-on about town. We’ll also be part of the celebration with the launch of the Benson’s exhibition – Frente a Frente: The Mexican People in Independence and Revolution, 1810–1910 – early this summer.
The archive covers his entire career, so it includes the source materials for all of his major plays (Glengarry Glen Ross, American Buffalo, Oleanna), as well as his screenwriting work (The Postman Always Rings Twice – the 1981 adaptation, The Untouchables, The Spanish Prisoner).