Expanding Discoverability for Architecture Treasures

Zoe Grout is a Graduate Student at UT Austin working toward an MA in English and an MS in Information Studies, with a focus on library and archival sciences. She currently works as an Archival Processing Graduate Research Assistant in the Alexander Architectural Archives.


This past year as the Alexander Architectural Archive’s GRA, I’ve published finding aids for six separate collections to Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO). Those collections are: the Boone Powell collection, the Ford, Powell & Carson collection, the Mardith Schuetz-Miller collection, the Nancy Kwallek collection, the John Covert Watson collection, and the Richard Cleary collection.

The first two collections’ finding aids are the culmination of several years’ work by myself, my GRA predecessors, and the entire AAA staff. Boone Powell is a noted architect in San Antonio. His collection includes records documenting his personal and professional life, such as his work on community projects such as Design San Antonio. Ford, Powell & Carson is likewise a noted architectural firm in San Antonio, known for the construction of the Tower of the Americas for the 1968 World’s Fair and its development of the San Antonio Riverwalk. Records in this collection consist primarily of files and drawings related to major projects conducted over the last fifty years. Pictured below is one such example, a photo of a sketch for the San Antonio River Grotto from the Ford, Powell & Carson collection.

The remaining four finding aids are provisional. These collections have not been processed, and their finding aids, while shortened, are intended to boost accessibility to our collections in the backlog. Mardith Schuetz-Miller is an anthropologist and historian who earned her PhD in American Civilization at UT, and her collection contains publication drafts and drawings, specifically concerning the architecture of Spanish Colonial sites in the American Southwest and Guam. Professor Emeritus Nancy Kwallek is a former director of the interior design program at UT, and was a major contributor to the program’s move to the School of Architecture. Her collection documents the history of the interior design program, as well as some of the works of interior designer Everett Brown. John Covert Watson is a noted Austin architect, known for his residences in the Austin area, especially around Lake Travis and West Lake Hills. His collection consists of architectural drawings for a selection of his projects. Finally, Richard Cleary is a Professor Emeritus in the School of Architecture here at UT, and his collection includes records from his own research and publication processes, as well as materials from courses he taught at UT.

Open Education Fellows Launch Cost-Free Italian Language Textbook

Exemplifying an embrace of affordable education, 2023 Open Education Fellows Dr. Amanda Bush and Silvia Luongo have successfully completed their fellowship project by creating Giornate Italiane, an Italian language textbook now available on Pressbooks. 

Authored entirely by Dr. Bush and Professor Luongo, this textbook carries a Creative Commons license, providing students with free access and eliminating the need to purchase a paid resource. Consequently, their course is now cost-free in terms of course materials, offering substantial financial relief to students.

The Open Education Fellows program, supported by the University of Texas Libraries, encourages faculty to develop open educational resources (OER) that enhance learning accessibility and affordability. 

The creation of OER textbooks ensures that all students, regardless of their financial situation, have equal access to essential learning materials. This initiative aligns with broader efforts to alleviate the financial burden of higher education and supports a more equitable academic environment.

Walter Ducloux Collection Now Accessible on Texas ScholarWorks

A collection of conductor, composer and educator Walter Ducloux is now discoverable on Texas ScholarWorks, the digital repository of The University of Texas at Austin.

Born in Germany in 1912, Ducloux immigrated to the United States in 1933. He held various teaching positions, including as a music professor at The University of Texas at Austin for 28 years. Ducloux was the co-founder of Austin Lyric Opera, and served as the director of the Austin Symphony Orchestra from 1972 to 1980. His contributions to the musical world were vast, influencing countless students and musicians through his work.

The Walter Ducloux collection is comprised of reel-to-reel tapes of historical recordings of operatic and orchestral works dated from 1949 to 1983. The recordings primarily feature performance ensembles from the University of Southern California and The University of Texas at Austin.

The initiative to enhance access to the Ducloux materials was spearheaded by Librarian for Performing Arts Molly Roy, who earlier this year proposed a new workflow to expedite the revelation of previously hidden materials in the Historical Music Recording Collection (HMRC). Roy’s innovative approach not only enhances accessibility but also facilitates the transition of these materials to more appropriate storage at the LSF.

The finding aid can be viewed here, and the bibliographic record is now searchable through the university’s catalog here. These resources enable users to find specific recordings by keyword and determine their exact locations within the Library Storage Facility (LSF).

Researchers and music enthusiasts alike will greatly benefit from this improved discovery of the rich recordings within the Walter Ducloux Collection. This milestone underscores the university’s commitment to preserving and promoting its valuable historical resources.

The successful implementation of this project is a testament to the collaborative efforts of several departments, with key contributions from staff across the Libraries, including Whit Williams and Marjie Lawrence from Content Management, Brittany Centeno and Joey Marez from Preservation and Colleen Lyon from Scholarly Communication. The collective efforts have been crucial in bringing this project to fruition.

READ, HOT AND DIGITIZED: Digitizing, Repatriating, and Promoting Sound

Read, hot & digitized: Librarians and the digital scholarship they love — In this series, librarians from UTL’s Arts, Humanities and Global Studies Engagement Team briefly present, explore and critique existing examples of digital scholarship.  Our hope is that these monthly reviews will inspire critical reflection of and future creative contributions to the growing fields of digital scholarship.


Financially supported by the Indian Ministry of Culture, the Virtual Museum of Images and Sound is an online platform drawing upon and digitally presenting the amazingly rich resources held in the American Institute of Indian Studies’ (AIIS) collections.  While the open access museum highlights a vast range of artistic expression that I encourage everyone to explore, this brief post highlights the audio recordings from the Archives and Research Centre for Ethnomusicology (ARCE). 

Grab your headphones, settle into your comfortable chair, and join in to listen and learn!

For those new to South Asian music traditions, the ARCE’s Music in Context section provides a great introductory overview as it organizes recordings thematically.  While one might expect a section on ragas, the ARCE site encourages one to listen to songs associated with life cycle events, with work, or with ritual traditions.  If curated thematic journeys aren’t your style, rest assured that the site also operationalizes a number of digital humanities methods to delve into the dizzying array of musical types.  For example, one can use the Mapping Music or the Music Timeline interfaces to discover recordings by geographical location or in their chronological context.  There are so many fascinating things to find here—for example, did you know that the American jazz artist Teddy Weatherford lived in Kolkata (the city then known as Calcutta) and was featured on India’s First Jazz Record in 1944?  Or that the 1978 “Jazz Yatra” brought the likes of saxophonist Sonny Rollins and sitarist Ustad Vilayat Khan together?  One loses oneself in the midst of such resources.

Beyond the fun to be had on the site from wherever you are, it is important to remember ARCE’s compelling vision to support the study of ethnomusicology in India.  The original goals for the AIIS analog collection were to protect and preserve recordings made by foreign scholars in the course of their research which were subsequently deposited in archives around the world.  Troublingly, it was obvious that such recordings were rarely available in India itself.  Addressing this problem head on, ARCE declares that “repatriation of collections has remained a major aim of the ARCE, which houses collections… which were not [previously] available in India. Scholars and collectors from all over the world, as well as India, continue to deposit collections of their recordings regularly at ARCE.”  In addition, they see the collection and the wide array of associated programs and events anchored in the collection as a way to stimulate new ethnomusicological research worldwide.  Knowing this driving mission, it is no surprise that ARCE has made so many collections freely available online.  I commend them on this important work.

I further applaud ARCE on their partnerships to collaboratively digitize and make recordings openly available.  To cite one recent and impactful success, ARCE worked with grant funding from the Modern Endangered Archives Program (MEAP) to preserve, robustly describe, and offer access to the “Recordings of Hereditary Musicians of Western Rajasthan.”  A scholarly collection formerly only on audio cassettes, the new online open access through ARCE and MEAP allows listeners worldwide to celebrate and enjoy Rajasthani music, culture and history.   

Learn more with these databases (restricted to UT affiliates):

Saarey Music provides streaming access to over 60 years of South Asian classical music including genres like Dhurpad, Thumri, Kafi, Tarana, and Ghazal.

Smithsonian Global Sound is a virtual encyclopedia of the world’s musical and aural traditions and includes material from the Archive Research Centre for Ethnomusicology (ARCE).

Ethnomusicology: Global Field Recordings presents content from across the globe, including thousands of audio field recordings.

Music Online: Listening provides access to over 7 million streaming audio tracks, see in particular the “World Music” section. 

A Visit to Eldorado: Archivists Attend the Annual Gathering of Quilombolas in Brazil’s Vale do Ribeira

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Ryan Lynch, Head of Special Collections and Senior Archivist at the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, and Rachel E. Winston, Black Diaspora Archivist, attended the annual meeting of traditional Black communities in Eldorado, state of São Paulo, as guests of EAACONE, one of the Benson’s archival partners.

ONE OF THE PARTNERSHIPS that emerged from the LLILAS Benson Mellon-funded project “Cultivating a Latin American Post-Custodial Archival Community” involved extensive collaboration with EAACONE, Equipe de Articulação e Assessoria às Comunidades Negras do Vale do Ribeira, located in Eldorado, Vale do Ribeira, São Paulo, Brazil. (EAACONE’s name translates as Team for Articulation and Assessment of Black Communities of Vale do Ribeira).  

A circle of women of various ages holds hands. They are wearing white blouses and multicolored floral skirts. A few of them wear straw hats.
Women from Quilombo Sapatu perform “Nha Muruca” at the Encontrão .

Digitized materials and metadata from the EAACONE archive are available in three languages on the Latin American Digital Initiatives Repository. LLILAS Benson’s collaboration consisted, in part, of training of EAACONE staff in digitization and metadata, as well as funding the purchase of equipment and the salaries of archival employees from the quilombola* community. Additional funds covered the creation of a traveling exhibition for the purpose of introducing schoolchildren and other community members to the archive and to the history of EAACONE and MOAB, the anti-dam movement with which it is associated. 

Three people stand in front of a chain link fence hung with vinyl posters, part of the traveling exhibition describing the EAACONE archive. On the left is a man, who is talking, in the middle, a woman whose t-shirt reads "Fight Like a Black Woman" (in Portuguese) and on the far right, another woman holds a yellow folder and is looking toward the man.
From left: Attorneys Fernando Prioste (Instituto Socioambiental, ISA) and Rafaela Santos (EAACONE) speak with Letícia de França (EAACONE).

EAACONE’s archive, titled Quilombos do Vale do Ribeira (Quilombos of Vale do Ribeira), consists of materials compiled from 25 years of EAACONE history and 35 years of MOAB (Movimento dos Ameaçados por Barragens, or Movement of Peoples Threatened by Dams), a grassroots movement protesting the construction of hydroelectric dams with negative impacts on the communities and environment of Vale do Ribeira. The dates of materials range from 1955 to the late 1990s. 

Several members of the LLILAS Benson archival team have visited Eldorado during the years of the collaboration. Most recently, Ryan Lynch (Benson Head of Special Collections and Senior Archivist) and Rachel E. Winston (Black Diaspora Archivist) visited Eldorado to attend the XXVIII Encontro das Comunidades Negras do Vale do Ribeira (28th Meeting of Black Communities of Vale do Ribeira)—known as the Encontrão (Big Meetup)—on November 18, 2023. Documents from the EAACONE archives were on display on tables at the event, as were vinyl panels from a traveling exhibition about the archive and the history of the area’s Black communities. 

A table display shows old newspaper clippings, photo albums, notebooks, and papers. A Black woman reaches toward the table, placing items. Two other young Black people—a man and woman—stand near her. In the background, there is a counter labeled "Bar" where people in hair nets appear to be setting up food.
Tânia Moraes (foreground), Letícia de França, and Andrey Pupo set up a display table with EAACONE archival materials.

“Attending the Encontrão helped me contextualize the work that EAACONE does with quilombo communities,” said Lynch. “Watching residents of the different communities see themselves, or their friends and relatives, in the documents, was an invigorating reminder of the importance of our work as archivists and post-custodial partners. Many of the people in attendance had made history and continue to make history. Thanks to the Mellon grant, their story is available not only to themselves and their descendants but also to K–12 students, researchers, and activists in other independent Black communities in the Americas.” 

A large white vinyl sheet hangs from a chainlink fence. It is printed with information in Portuguese and photos from the EAACONE archive named Quilombos of Vale do Ribeira Collection. The photos and text are related to women's meetings. LLILAS Benson is cited at the bottom of the vinyl sheet as a sponsor.
EAACONE’s traveling exhibition, which draws on archival materials digitized in collaboration with LLILAS Benson, will be used in schools and at events. This panel describes women’s meetings and includes archival photographs.

The LLILAS Benson collaboration was included in the event via the use of the LLILAS Benson logo on exhibition materials, and Lynch noted that it was also mentioned multiple times by speakers. He and Winston were introduced as VIPs at the beginning of the proceedings, and Lynch was invited by organizers to deliver a few impromptu remarks.  

“I look forward to exploring future partnerships that will allow us to continue to play a role in this important documentation and exchange of knowledge and experience,” he said. 

In a large cinderblock room with high ceilings, rows of Black, white, and mixed-race people sit in white plastic chairs facing the front. At front, a white man with dark hair, beard, and glasses, wearing a white shirt and dark pants, holds a microphone and speaks. There are numerous large posters hanging on the wall that talk about EAACONE, MOAB, and quilombola communities.
Benson Head of Collections / Senior Archivist Ryan Lynch shared greetings from LLILAS Benson and discussed the collaboration with EAACONE.

In her role as Black Diaspora Archivist, Winston has visited more than one post-custodial partner in Latin America. Both she and Lynch had visited Eldorado previously. “Reconnecting with EAACONE colleagues in person, and meeting more community members (documented and represented in the EAACONE collection) was incredible,” Winston said.

Three middle-aged Black men stand in a circle singing. The man on the right is playing a guitar. In the background, a banner hanging on the wall talks about MOAB, the historic anti-dam movement that has been a source of activism among quilombola communities in Vale do Ribeira.
From left: Noel Castelo, Rodrigo Marinho Rodrigues da Silva, and José Rodrigues da Silva sing after the conclusion of the Encontrão. The banner hanging on the wall talks about MOAB, the historic anti-dam movement that has been a source of activism among quilombola communities in Vale do Ribeira.

“Being a part of this project and partnership with EAACONE from the beginning to the end has been a highlight of my career at the Benson,” Winston adds. “When there, the importance of the work becomes more salient. EAACONE has been and continues to be an important fixture in the Vale do Ribeira. The impact of their work is amplified by our collaboration and by the work we do to preserve their archive. To see the EAACONE materials in the place of creation, used and viewed by the community members represented in them, and to be in community with that community, is a remarkable experience, and a reminder of the power of post-custodial archival praxis.” 

Large yellow letters placed on a green lawn spell out I Love Eldorado (in Portuguese). There is a fanciful outline of a bright red heart in the design. These letters are on a green lawn. The sky is wide an gray and cloudy in the background and above.
“I Love Eldorado” sign at the bus station in Eldorado.

*Quilombolas are Afro-descendant Brazilians who live in rural Black communities known as quilombos, which were originally established by enslaved people who fled enslavement to establish autonomous communities. There are 88 such communities in Vale do Ribeira, an area in the Brazilian states of São Paulo and neighboring Paraná. To read more about quilombolas in Vale do Ribeira, see Edward Shore, Brazilian Roças: A Legacy in Peril (2017) and The Quilombo Activists’ Archive (2019). 

Visita a Eldorado: Arquivistas da UT marcaram presença no Encontro Anual das Comunidades Negras Tradicionais do Vale do Ribeira

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Uma das parcerias resultantes do projeto “Criando uma Comunidade Arquivística Pós-Custodial Latino-Americana”, financiado pela LLILAS Benson Mellon, incluiu uma colaboração intensa com a EAACONE, Equipe de Articulação e Assessoria às Comunidades Negras do Vale do Ribeira, entidade localizada no município de Eldorado, Estado de São Paulo, no Brasil.  

Um círculo de mulheres negras de várias idades dança num espaço com paredes de bloco de concreto. A maioria delas usa blusa branca. Algumas usam chapéu de palha, outras, saias coloridas.
Mulheres e jovens de Quilombo Sapatu dançam “Nha Muruca” no Encontrão

O Repositório Latino-Americano de Iniciativas Digitais contém uma coleção de trabalhos digitalizados e metadados do acervo da EAACON, disponíveis em três idiomas. A colaboração LLILAS-Benson consistiu, em parte, de um programa de capacitação em digitalização e metadados para a equipe da EAACONE, assim como recursos financeiros para comprar equipamentos e pagar os salários dos colaboradores arquivistas da comunidade quilombola. Foram ainda disponibilizados recursos para cobrir a criação de uma exposição itinerante com a finalidade de apresentar para jovens estudantes de escolas e outros membros da comunidade não só o acervo completo como também a história da EAACONE e do MOAB.  

Três pessoas conversam de pé na frente de uma cerca onde estão penduradas cartaz que falam sobre o acervo de EAACONE.
Advogados Fernando Prioste (Instituto Socioambiental, ISA) e Rafaela Santos (EAACONE) com Letícia de França (EAACONE

O acervo da EAACONE, intitulado Quilombos do Vale do Ribeira, consiste de trabalhos compilados durante os 25 anos de existência da EAACONE e os 35 anos de existência do MOAB (Movimento dos Ameaçados por Barragens). O MOAB é um movimento de base dedicado a protestar contra a construção de represas hidroelétricas com impactos negativos nas comunidades e no meio-ambiente do Vale do Ribeira. As peças do acervo são datadas de 1955 até o final da década de 1990.  

Diversos integrantes da equipe arquivística da LLILAS Benson visitaram Eldorado durante os anos dessa colaboração. As visitas mais recentes foram de Ryan Lynch (Chefe de Coleções Especiais e Arquivista Sênior) e Rachel E. Winston (Arquivista da Diáspora Negra) que participaram do XXVIII Encontro das Comunidades Negras do Vale do Ribeira, também chamado de Encontrão, em 18 de novembro de 2023. Esse evento contou com trabalhos dos acervos da EAACONE exibidos em mesas, assim como painéis em vinil que integraram a exposição itinerante sobre acervos e história das comunidades negras da região.  

Uma mulher negra coloca materiais como páginas de jornal, álbuns de fotos, papeis e pastas sobre uma mesa. Junto com ela, outra mulher negra e um homem negro.
Tânia Morais, Letícia de França e Andrey Pupo organizam uma exibição de materiais do acervo de EAACONE

“Participar do Encontrão me ajudou a contextualizar o trabalho que a EAACONE realiza com as comunidades quilombolas”, relatou Ryan. “Observar os residentes das diversas comunidades, como eles se percebem e percebem seus amigos e parentes, tudo refletido nos documentos, foi uma reflexão regeneradora que me fez revalorizar a importância do nosso trabalho como arquivistas e entidades pós-custodiais parceiras. Muitos dos participantes do evento já haviam feito história e continuam fazendo história. Graças a essa grant da Mellon, a história dessa gente se torna disponível não apenas para eles mesmos e seus descendentes mas também para os jovens estudantes de ensino fundamental e médio, pesquisadores e ativistas em outras comunidades negras das Américas”.  

Um cartaz de vinil pendurado numa cerca. O texto fala sobre Encontros de Mulheres no acervo da EAACONE e mostra fotos tomadas nesses encontros. Em baixo, menciona o apoio de LLILAS Benson.
A exposição de EAACONE será utilizada em escolas e eventos especiais. Os materiais foram digitalizados em colaboração com LLILAS Benson no projeto Mellon.

A colaboração da LLILAS Benson foi incluída no evento por meio da utilização do logotipo LLILAS Benson nos materiais expositivos e Ryan observou que ela também foi mencionada diversas vezes pelos palestrantes. Ele e Rachel foram apresentados como VIPs na abertura dos trabalhos e Ryan foi convidado pelos organizadores para dizer algumas palavras a todos reunidos, o que ele fez de improviso.   

“Tenho uma ótima expectativa para explorarmos parcerias futuras que nos permitam continuar a desempenhar um papel significativo nessa documentação tão importante e nesse intercâmbio de conhecimentos e experiências”, observou ele.  

Muitas pessoas estão sentadas em filas e em cadeiras de plástico brancas, num auditório com paredes de bloco de concreto e teto alto. Na frente, um homem com barba e cabelo escuro, camisa branca e calça preta segura o microfone e fala às pessoas reunidas. Na parede tem vários cartaz que falam sobre EAACONE, MOAB e as comunidades quilombolas.
Arquivista Ryan Lynch compartilha saudações de LLILAS Benson e fala sobre a colaboração com EAACONE.

Como Arquivista para a Diáspora Negra, Rachel tem um histórico de visitas a entidades pós-custodiais parceiras na América Latina. Tanto ela quanto Ryan já haviam visitado Eldorado antes. “Essa reconexão com os colegas EAACONE ao vivo e agora a oportunidade de conhecer outros membros da comunidade (encontros documentados e representados na coleção EAACONE) foi incrível”, disse ela.

Três homens negros cantam juntos num círculo. O homem do lado direita toca violão. Na parede dá pra ver um cartaz que fala sobre a MOAB, grupo histórico que defendeu o Vale do Ribeira contra projetos de barragens.
Da esquerda: Noel Castelo, Rodrigo Marinho Rodrigues da Silva e José Rodrigues da Silva cantam após o fechamento do Encontrão

“Fazer parte desse projeto e dessa parceria com a EAACONE do início até o fim tem sido um marco importante da minha carreira na Benson,” adicionou Winston. “O fato de estar fisicamente no local destaca a importância do trabalho e o valoriza mais ainda. A EAACONE tem sido desde o início e continua a ser parte importante do Vale do Ribeira.  O impacto do trabalho deles é amplificado pela nossa colaboração e pelo trabalho que nós fazemos para preservar seus acervos. Ver ao vivo as peças e trabalhos da EAACONE nos locais onde eles foram criados, utilizados e visualizados pelos membros da comunidade ali representados, e estar presente comunitariamente com eles e elas, é uma experiência marcante e nos faz re-avaliar o poder da práxis arquivística pós-custodial”. 

Grandes letras amarelas instaladas numa grama verde falam "Eu Amo Eldorado." Em vez da palavra "amo" tem um coração vermelho.
Fora da estação de ônibus, Eldorado.

Alberto Herrera Fernández Photograph Collection Unveiled

An intimate ceremony on April 29 marked the dedication of the Alberto Herrera Fernández Photograph Collection at the Benson Latin American Collection, honoring the life and work of the renowned Mexican photographer. The event, attended by family members, scholars and esteemed guests, served as a recognition of Herrera Fernandez’s impact in capturing the life and culture of Sonora, Mexico through his lens.

The event was largely organized by Blanca Cummins, daughter of Alberto Herrera Fernández and a current Tower Fellow, whose commitment to preserving her father’s legacy was evident throughout the event. Former state historian of Texas – and Cummins’ brother-in-law – Light Cummins described the significance of Herrera Fernández’s photographic legacy and provided historical context for the photographer’s  work.

The Alberto Herrera Fernández Photograph Collection, carefully maintained by Cummins’ sister until its transfer to the university, showcases not only the rugged beauty of the Sonoran Desert but also provides a glimpse into the lives of vaqueros and copper miners in Cananea, Sonora. Herrera Fernández’s lens documented the essence of artistic communities, daily life, religious leaders and governmental figures, painting a vivid portrait of the region.

The bulk of the collection is comprised of 60,000 photographic slides, prints, and negatives (~23 Linear feet). In addition to the photographic materials, the collection boasts a selection of ephemera, including exhibition write-ups, interviews, recognitions, and correspondence, offering invaluable insights into Herrera Fernández’s enduring legacy as a photographer. The breadth and depth of Herrera Fernández’s work provide a unique perspective on Sonora, filling a critical gap in the Benson’s holdings.

The dedication ceremony also recognized Blanca Cummins’s tireless efforts in digitizing selected images from the collection. Working diligently in the rare books reading room for months, Cummins meticulously preserved the original order of her father’s archive, ensuring its integrity and accessibility for future generations.

Megan Frisque, Director of the Tower Fellows program, also spoke to the value of the Fellows program, recognizing Cummins as an example of the sort of impact that the participants can have through its access to a world-class lifelong learning experience.

Libraries Raises Nearly $50,000 from 40 for Forty Campaign

It was a great year for the Libraries’ 40 Hours for the Forty Acres giving campaign. This year’s efforts centered around sustaining the Map & Geospatial Collections Explorer Fellowship – a vital initiative aimed at fostering innovative scholarship and leveraging the rich resources housed within the UT Libraries’ map and geospatial collections – and an endowment for the Digital Scholarship Program administered by the Benson Latin American Collection and the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies.

The 40 Hours for the Forty Acres serves as a rallying point for the university community, bringing together alumni, students, faculty, staff, parents, and friends in a collective effort to bolster initiatives that resonate with their interests and goals for UT.

This year’s campaign resulted in nearly $30,000 raised in support of the Map & Geospatial Collections Explorer Fellowship, which has been instrumental in advancing research and facilitating academic exploration. These funds will play a pivotal role in sustaining and expanding the scope of the award, ensuring that it continues to serve as a catalyst for groundbreaking research and scholarly inquiry.

Since its inception, the Map & Geospatial Collections Explorer Fellowship has provided invaluable support to UT scholars, offering financial assistance and resources to support their explorations into diverse fields. Through the Fellowship, recipients have been empowered to delve into projects ranging from mapping rising sea levels on the Texas coast to creating artistic spatial visualizations of biodiversity in Hawaii. The impact of these projects extends far beyond the university campus, contributing to advancements in various disciplines and enriching our collective understanding of the world.

The second campaign raised just over $20,000 towards the creation of an endowment for the Digital Scholarship Program administered by the Benson Latin American Collection and the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies. The LLILAS Benson Digital Scholarship Program aims to advance Latin American Studies through the ethical application of digital tools in the realm of translation, accessibility, language preservation, and more. The funds raised during this campaign get LLILAS Benson one giant step closer to funding their Digital Scholarship Program in perpetuity, through the creation of an endowed fund.

The Libraries extends its sincerest thanks to all who contributed to the success of this year’s campaign. Your generosity has not only provided vital support for the Map & Geospatial Collections Explorer Fellowship and the Digital Scholarship Program, but has also reaffirmed the importance of investing in initiatives that advance knowledge and scholarship.

These annual campaigns continue to bring exciting, crowd-funded support to the UT Libraries and its various endeavors, collections, and programs. We look forward to sharing the successes of the programs supported during this year’s 40 Hours for the Forty Acres.


To make an additional contribution to either of the campaign efforts, visit:

MGCE Fellowship – https://give.utexas.edu?menu=OGPLCMP&solicit=TA1

LLILAS Benson Digital Scholarship – https://give.utexas.edu?menu=OGPLLBDS&solicit=TA1

Read, Hot & Digitized: Baalbek Reborn

Read, hot & digitized: Librarians and the digital scholarship they love — In this series, librarians from UTL’s Arts, Humanities and Global Studies Engagement Team briefly present, explore and critique existing examples of digital scholarship.  Our hope is that these monthly reviews will inspire critical reflection of and future creative contributions to the growing fields of digital scholarship.


“Baalbek Reborn” is a groundbreaking virtual experience offering free access to users worldwide. Utilizing cutting-edge digital technologies and insights gleaned from decades of archaeological research, the project presents 3D reconstructions showcasing the appearance of Baalbek’s ruins during the 3rd century CE. These reconstructions notably feature prominent structures of the Baalbek temple complex.

Nestled in the Biqā’ valley in Lebanon, northeast of Beirut, Baalbak is an ancient city that flourished as an agricultural and religious center for thousands of years. It is best known for its Roman temple complex, which was called Heliopolis after the Greek for “City of the Sun.” The complex has three temples honoring the Triad of Heliopolis: Jupiter, Bacchus, and Venus, and the city flourished repeatedly under different religious groups’ administration because of its temple architecture. Baalbek remained a significant outpost through Antiquity and the Islamic imperial period, sometimes dramatically changing hands over the course of only months. As Europeans became acquainted with the city in the early modern period, their focus was––and has continued to be––on the remarkable ancient architecture of the temple complex. While the ancient Roman architecture is certainly significant, it is worth remembering that modern archaeologists cleared the Islamic town––which would have featured historic architecture as well––that had been built on the site in order to access the temples. The inclusion of Baalbek as a UNESCO World Heritage Site underscores its significance.

 The Baalbek Reborn collaborative project enhances accessibility to the site’s cultural heritage by offering a dynamic virtual exploration of its past and present beauty. Available as a free app for computers, mobile devices, and virtual reality headsets, the “Baalbek Reborn” tour provides interactive, 360-degree views of 38 locations within the city. Users can engage with expert audio commentary in Arabic, English, French, or German, and access additional images and text for detailed information about specific spots. One unique feature is the ability to toggle between the present-day appearance of the buildings and their historical reconstruction from nearly 2,000 years ago. The high resolution of both the photographs and reconstructions allows users to zoom in without losing clarity, while informative text and audio clips provide detailed explanations based on research.

Introduction section with flyover.

Upon starting the app, users are treated to a five-minute introduction to the site, along with basic instructions on how to navigate the virtual experience. For those seeking a more comprehensive understanding, a detailed tutorial is available for the app’s features. The app offers two main modes of exploration: a guided tour lasting 38 minutes, highlighting the key features of the Baalbek temples, or the option to explore points of interest directly from the map of the temple complex. It is the latter option that some users may find rather disjointed: it is not easy to move seamlessly between points of interest. However, those who wish to explore further are encouraged to view the ruins on Google Streetview for a virtual walk, albeit without the detailed commentary provided in the app.

Baalbek ruins in Google street view.

The collaborative effort behind this endeavor involved three key partners: Flyover Zone Productions, a virtual tour company responsible for the platform’s development; members of the German Archaeological Institute, who contributed content and provided archaeological expertise; and Lebanon’s Ministry of Culture – Directorate General of Antiquities, which oversees the protection, promotion, and excavation activities related to the country’s national heritage sites. Together, these partners have combined their expertise to create a comprehensive and immersive experience that brings the ancient beauty of Baalbek to contemporary audiences.


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Little Joe Has a Big Night at the Benson

The 22nd annual ¡A Viva Voz! celebration at the Benson Latin American Collection on April 4 was a compelling homage to Latino arts and culture, spotlighting the legendary José María de León Hernández, affectionately known as Little Joe.

Developed by former Benson Director Ann Hartness, ¡A Viva Voz! has long served as a platform to showcase the rich Mexican American/U.S. Latino heritage, fostering community engagement and celebrating cultural vibrancy.

This year’s event paid tribute to Little Joe, an American music legend who has garnered five Grammy awards and was honored with the prestigious 2023 National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. In an interview conducted by US Latina/o Studies Librarian Maribel Falcón, Little Joe discussed his biography, “¡No Llore, Chingón!,” which provides a poignant narrative of his life journey, weaving tales of resilience and triumph amid the struggles faced by Mexican-American communities in Texas.

Born to immigrant parents who fled Mexico during the turmoil of the Mexican Revolution, Hernández and his family initially worked as farm laborers in Texas, confronting hardships and poverty. However, his passion for music ignited at a young age, and he embarked on a musical career that would transcend borders and genres.

Reflecting on his early days performing in meager venues and overcoming challenges, Little Joe addressed the hurdles of limited radio exposure for Spanish-language music, recounting pivotal moments such as the success of his album “Por Un Amor”(1964) and the trials of a grueling tour. His shared experiences of touring internationally, including a memorable trip to Japan, underscored his deep appreciation for cultural exchange and diversity.

Yet, beyond the melodies, Little Joe’s legacy carries a profound message of empowerment and advocacy. Throughout the evening, Little Joe conveyed a powerful message of resilience and solidarity, urging the audience to confront racism and injustice through activism and civic engagement.

As he performed an impromptu song encouraging accountability and participation in the democratic process, he encouraged all to embrace their heritage, amplify their voices, and stand united in the pursuit of a brighter tomorrow.


Watch the event:

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