Regular travel “to the field” is an indispensable tool in
the area studies librarian’s toolkit.
Firsthand knowledge of the cultural, political and intellectual context
for the production and distribution of information resources is essential to
maintaining both our expertise and currency in support of the global literacy
being nurtured and developed here at UT.
I was fortunate to travel to India again this January due to the
generosity of UT’s South
Asia Institute and the many donors to UTL’s 2019 Hornraiser funding
campaign. I am immensely grateful to
both for supporting this mission-critical acquisitions-, networking-, and
professional development work!
This year, I was able to visit 3 north Indian cities (Delhi,
Lucknow and Varanasi) and I was able to achieve 3 major goals:
Acquire distinctive materials for UT’s
collections, including materials specifically requested by UT faculty to
advance their teaching and research but also books in Hindi and Urdu that will
deepen our ever-growing South Asian
Popular and Pulp Fiction Collection
Advance post-custodial open access efforts on South Asian Studies, including recently completed and collaboratively funded digitization projects, for example the newly available journals (Viplav, Viplavi Tractand Baagi), while simultaneously advocating the use of open access initiatives such as the South Asia Open Archive
One project I have been working on for the past 5 years exemplifies the type of work we UT global studies liaisons try to do while traveling abroad: the Sajjad Zaheer Digital Archive. The opportunity to digitize the papers of the 20th century Progressive Writer, Mr. Sajjad Zaheer, was brought to me back in 2014 by 3 UT professors—Kamran Ali (Anthropology), Akbar Hyder (Asian Studies) and Snehal Shingavi (English)—as all 3 used Sajjad Zaheer’s work in their scholarship. As the Zaheer family had made an MoU with Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD) to be the physical home of the collection, over multiple trips to Delhi and via countless email messages over the years, I worked with both the family members and with representatives of AUD’s Centre for Community Knowledge to inventory the collection, to get permissions to digitize the material, and to put the resulting files online in an open access repository. Successful appeals to UT’s South Asia Institute and the South Asia Materials Project (SAMP) at the Center for Research Libraries for funding and eventual hosting of the archive enabled the work. I used connections I had made on previous trips to facilitate the careful scanning work with digitization partners in India (the Roja Muthiah Research Library). At our meeting this year in Delhi, we celebrated the completion of our initial objectives—digitally preserved and openly accessible copies of the collection.
Digital collections are never done, however, so we also used this year’s meeting to put our heads together to explore ways to improve access and discovery of the archive (a digital humanities project currently underway at UTL, again generously funded by UT’s South Asia Institute) and to think of other authors’ work we would like to present in similar ways. The project may have taken 5 years but they were productive, cooperative, and mutually beneficial years. I can only hope for such success in future projects!
Thanks to generous funding from donors to a 2019 Hornraiser crowdfunding effort and support from UT Libraries, I was able to visit Korea and Taiwan in October. In this blog post, I highlight the Korea portion of my trip—if you’d like to learn more about Taiwan, just ask! I’m happy to share my experience with all interested! While in Korea, I was able to do much of my usual liaison librarian work but with considerably increased efficiency and depth because I was “in context.” For example, I was able to (re)connect with vendors, to attend scholarly and cultural events, and to participate in conferences, all related to and in support of the Korean Studies programs here at UT.
The primary focus of my trip was to attend the “2019 Overseas Korean Studies Librarian Workshop” sponsored by and held at the National Library of Korea (NLK) in Seoul on from October 14-17.I arrived in Korea a week before the workshop so that my colleague Julie Wang of SUNY Binghamton Libraries and I could attend the 24th Busan International Film Festival, one of the most significant film festivals in Asia, to visit vendors, and to meet with the Korea Foundation. At the film festival, we were lucky to have the opportunity to listen to a group of rising documentary Asian directors about their films—films in all languages not just Korean.
We also visited our database vendors KSI and Nurimedia to learn of their current programs and future plans. We were delighted to learn that KSI is working on an English interface for its database KISS and that they expected to launch it in the summer 2020. (Nurimedia’s database DBpia & KRpia already have English interfaces.) Along the way, we were joined by Wen-ling Liu of Indiana University and the three of us U.S.-based librarians to visit the Korea Foundation (KF). The Korea Foundation has been partially supporting our subscription of KSI and Nurimedia’s e-resources and providing the Library with print materials, both through annual grant applications. The Foundation headquarters is in Jeju Island (a 70-minute-flight away from Seoul) and so we were particularly grateful that three of the Foundation staff flew in to Seoul to meet with us, explain their programs, and listen to our concerns.
The following week, we were all participants in the “Overseas
Korean Studies Librarian Workshop,” a workshop generously funded by the
National Library of Korea. This workshop
is designed for overseas librarians who are non-Korean-native and whose job
responsibilities include Korean subject areas. Participants came from ten
countries (in three continents!), including 17 librarians from academic, national,
public and theological seminary libraries and one art historian from a
university. None of the participants is solely a Korean studies librarian; in
fact, a lot of us are East Asian or Asian studies librarians whose
responsibilities also cover Korean studies. Only a few participants have “adequate”
Korean language skills, most of us have very limited or not any Korean language
At the workshop, the National Library of Korea (NLK) introduced us to its digitization projects and services. Since 1982, it has been working with oversea libraries (China and Japan as well as western countries), local organizations, and private collections to digitize Korean rare books and to provide metadata and services through KORCIS: Korean Old and Rare Collection Information System. Currently, there are over 50,000 titles in KORCIS.
NLK also offers various international exchange & cooperation programs, the most notable is its “Window on Korea” (WOK). As of October 2019, NLK has signed MOUs with 25 overseas libraries for this program. To each WOK library, NLK provides funding for equipment (computers, chairs and desks, signboard etc.) in addition to 1500-4000 volumes of Korean books over a five year period. The mission of the WOK project is to introduce foreign researchers and ordinary library users to the history, tradition, culture, language and literature of Korea as well as Korea’s new achievements in the field of information technology. I’m hopeful that UT Libraries might pursue an MOU with the Window on Korea program one day!
All workshop participants—including
me!– gave presentations about Korean studies and Korean library resources at
their home institutes or countries. This was one of the most interesting and valuable
parts of the workshop for me. I regularly meet with our US colleagues at
conferences but I rarely have opportunity to learn of Korean studies and Korean
library resources in other part of the world. For example, I heard about Korean Studies
programs in Uzbekistan, France, Russia, Germany and beyond!
The memorable farewell dinner party was held at a traditional Korean building where we all changed to hanbok (traditional Korean dress). As you can see, people were having fun and wanted to take lots of photos in hanbok!
The cultural tours took us to National Hangeul (or Hangul) Museum
and National Museum of Korea. At the Hangeul Museum, we used hammers to punch letters
into leather to inscribe our hangul names. We also made a book from block
printing and in traditional Korean binding. This kind of hands-on project
reminded me of our own maker-spaces here at UT such as the Foundry.
All eighteen participants stayed in the same hotel and had
every meal together. The workshop provided a rare opportunity for participants to
really get to know our fellow Korean librarians from across the world. We have
learned from one another not only from the formal presentations, but also from
chatting and discussions at each meal and on bus trips. At the end of the
workshop, we all had become old friends. We have created a mailing list and have
since begun to communicate with one another. Because of this unique experience,
I now know whom to turn to especially when there are difficult questions
involving Korea/Korean and the countries where my fellow participants come from.
My trip was made possible by funding from Hornraiser donors.
Thanks to their generosity, I was able to fly to and from Seoul (and Taiwan for
another workshop) and to extend my trip in Korea to attend the Busan Film
Festival and to visit our vendors and sponsor.
In fall of 2018, the Libraries welcomed the first class of The Consuelo Artaza and Dr. Carlos Castañeda Diversity Alliance Residency Program who arrived for a 2-year term. Residents Laura Tadena and Natalie Hill spent the last year+ in rotations with various units for an immersive experience in librarianship, and though their terms haven’t yet expired, both earned the sort of attention that generated interest from other institutions wanting to lure them to professional opportunity. While we’re sad to see them leave, we’re extremely proud of the work they put in during their time at UT, and for the extensive contributions they made to what we do.
Hill and Tadena sat with me to reflect on their experience during their residencies, and to share their impressions of the program and the knowledge they gained.
Tex Libris: What is the
main value or biggest takeaway you have from participating in the program?
Laura Tadena: I
think for me it was learning about all the resources that we have access to or
that are available for the state, and really wanting to share that information
with others. Coming into this, I wasn’t familiar with the Texas State Library.
I also didn’t realize how many libraries are open and free to the public,
especially academic and college libraries. So, I think the most valuable thing
for me was learning that and really refining my information literacy skills.
Now I feel equipped to really find information in a way that I wasn’t before,
especially research and reference skills. I did chat, which was part of
learning UT’s system, and then we ended up doing a lot of presentations
together, which required a lot of research that recalled the knowledge I learned
in school and put it into practice in a professional setting. And seeing how
some of the other librarians in action, how they do their jobs, and being like,
“Wow…that’s how you get information.”
Natalie Hill: My
big takeaway is knowing how the library works at multiple levels, and how
information is communicated. Rotating between the different areas and being on
all of the listservs, even after I’ve left an area, has been really interesting
to see when people find things out about what’s going on. The experience has
really encouraged me to go into leadership, which isn’t something I had
strongly considered before. Now I want to do that.
TL: Do you feel like you
gained some confidence from your time here?
NH: For sure.
TL: That’s a huge
value, if you can walk into a place feeling like a visitor, and walk away
thinking, “I can do this.”
NH: I think
meeting directly with (Libraries’ Director) Lorraine Haricombe a few times was
really valuable, and having her provide encouragement…when she says you can
do something, you think, “Yeah, I can, if she thinks I can.” So it was a big confidence boost.
TL: You have both done a
lot of presentations in your time here, and that comes along with the
territory, being in the residency program, but not all of the presentations
were required as a component of your positions as resident; they were elective.
Was that interest in presenting something you brought to your work here, or was
it a byproduct of the confidence you’ve talked about gaining in your time at
NH: I think it
was after we got here. Presentations were what I was least looking forward to.
And now I’m like, “These are easy.”
LT: I think that
one of the things that kind of started it was when we had a window into the
hiring process, and saw what the CVs, resumés and cover letters looked like. We
realized that we needed to get that sort of activity into our CV to be able to
compete in the market. And so we put a bunch of submissions out thinking we
weren’t going to get accepted…
NH: We thought it
would be harder to get accepted…
LT: We also
recognized a higher value in presenting papers or being included in panels as
opposed to other forms of presentation.
TL: Did the experience
meet your expectations?
NH: I didn’t
fully know what I wanted to do when I started, but I felt it would have
something to do with open education. So being able to call myself the open
education librarian, and write my own job was great. So, in that way the
experience exceeded my expectations — especially with the development work
behind open education going on simultaneously, to see it becoming a real
strategic initiative within the organization and to be part of it as that was
LT: I think
coming into this, I initially thought I was going to be doing more outreach and
connecting with the student body, so learning how academic libraries work was
what exceeded my expectations. And the access we had to professional
development was incredible. We had opportunities to go to professional
conferences, and I got practice in applying for scholarships. I came in here
wanting to find ways to serve Texas, and I think I leave here now with a better
foundation for doing that.
NH: I think one
thing I didn’t expect was being known in the field. And I feel like now people
know us – probably as a pair, not necessarily as individuals – but, still
that’s bizarre. It’s kind of strange to be familiar to people in positions of
TL: This is a nascent
program that didn’t have a lot of predetermined direction when you came in, and
you’ve had a chance to steer it in a way.
LT: We didn’t
expect to start a Slack space for various diversity residents across the
country, but there are ACRL liaisons contacting us about the development of
that. We’re being brought on as mentors for other residents. So it’s rewarding
to be able to give back to the profession.
NH: Laura met
with the iSchool to try to set up presentation opportunities for students.
LT: I also met
with the dean of my alma mater who’s been recruiting me to teach there. I
didn’t realize that as library schools are moving more towards an information
science orientation, there is a shortage of public school librarians, resulting
in a shortage of people who can teach about school librarianship. Someone told
me – I think it was Portia (Vaughn, previous science liaison) – that every
opportunity should lead to another opportunity, and I’ve found that it does
tend to happen if you are open to talking with people and seeing if you can
meet each other’s needs and trying to think ahead.
TL: What was the benefit
of getting to work with professionals in librarianship?
NH: I worked with
Colleen Lyon (Head of Scholarly Communications) most of the time that I’ve been
here, and that’s been really beneficial because she really knows what she’s
LT: I think that working with Porcia (Vaughn, former Liaison Librarian for Biosciences) and Carolyn (Cunningham, Head of Teaching and Learning Engagement Team), they have a way of communicating with you and teaching you – the had a way of teaching you how to do things, including the decisions behind their methods; it was extremely helpful and not something that everyone naturally does. Carolyn was really helpful in navigating internal and institutional frameworks, and Porcia helped with the external opportunities, like connecting with other STEM librarians, introducing me to other networks to get involved in of which I was unaware. And through our residence space, we learned about what was happening at other libraries.
TL: What was something
you didn’t know about libraries before that you know now?
NH: I didn’t know
anything about instructional design, and now I’m going to be an instructional
designer. At the time we came in, job postings in the field suggested that
people were looking for assessment and instructional design experience, and I
was like, “I don’t really care about either of those things.” But,
working in open education, I realized that I was drifting away from
affordability arguments, and toward student engagement and being able to adapt
materials to better serve users, and those are really just instructional design
principles. So, open pedagogy is what I want to do now.
LT: I really
didn’t understand how academic libraries operated, big picture stuff. I think
one of the biggest things I learned was how we provide services to our
community. And what, as librarians, we’re able to do. I didn’t know that there
was a state library that did just professional development. And I didn’t know
about AMIGOS which does professional development support for all libraries.
That area of the profession is very interesting to me because of my instruction
background, and so I’m excited to be able to take that forward and support all
types of libraries.
NH: I don’t think
I knew about how professional associations work before this, and having the ARL
president here (Haricombe), I now know what the ARL does, which has been really
valuable, because you can see where broader initiatives start then trickle out
to the rest of field in succeeding years.
LT: And how
committees operate, because we’re getting practical experience.
TL: What advice would you
give to someone who was considering applying to a residency program like this?
NH: Know that the
program is for you, so if there’s not going to be a lot of flexibility or
freedom, maybe consider another option. I think that we’ve been really
fortunate here in that coming in as the first class of residents, it was pretty
unstructured, and people were pretty willing to say yes to ideas. We’ve seen
where other residency programs have a set job description and I don’t think
something like that would be anywhere near as valuable an experience.
LT: My suggestion
would be to connect with other residents — to learn about what they are doing
and use that to help support what you are doing or to create your own agency,
and advocate for your own benefit within the program. Because being part of it is
about learning, and I think we’ve seen a lot of residents in positions where
they don’t know they can ask for more, or they aren’t aware that they have some
control over their experience and what they gain from it. We’ve been fortunate
to have the opportunity – as long as it ties to our growth and development – to
help shape our own experience.
TL: What do you think can
be done to improve the experience for future residents?
LT: Cohort models
are nice. I don’t know that this program would have been as beneficial for us
if there was just one of us. It was a great experience to be able to have
someone to go to talk with about the shared experience, to have someone that
you’re constantly able to check in with. And, then again, to have someone available
to bounce ideas off of was helpful, especially since the program is a safe
space. Moving forward, I would recommend that there are at least two residents
at the same level, or at least in a cohort model that is closer together.
Having a buddy is good. And having great mentors.
NH: Maybe there
could be a refresher for staff on what the program intent is. Because it’s up
to the individual resident what interest within the organization they choose to
pursue, they could end up in any area, even one that may have not had previous
experience with a resident. We stayed in pretty public-facing academic
engagement roles, but maybe someone else would be really interested in
technical services. So just a reminder that it could go any way. And keeping
the door open so that residents can go anywhere within the library that appeals
to them, because that is what makes this program unique from other ones.
TL: What’s next for each
LT: I will be the
inclusive services consultant at the Texas State Library and Archives
Commission, and I’ll be working for the first year with public libraries,
helping to train staff and ensure that they have adequate resources to provide
inclusive services. My future supervisor has said that the hope is to expand
the role and potentially bring my work into both school and college/academic
libraries. I’m looking forward to the type of work that I’m going to do. It’s
another job that I don’t really know what I’m getting into, but I’m excited
because of the great things I’ve heard about the State Library. And I’ll be
NH: I will be an
instructional designer with the University of New England in Portland, Maine,
and I will be on a team of instructional designers within the College of
Graduate and Professional Studies, which is made of fully online graduate programs.
So, I will be working with faculty and subject matter experts to develop new
online courses and provide quality assurance and redesigns for existing courses.
I think that my specialty on the team will be promoting open educational
resources and moving those to the forefront in the course creation process.
LT: Outside of
our future roles, we’re also going to be working on a book chapter with (new diversity
resident) Adriana Casarez on the residency program, and we’ll be presenting at
TLA together, on a panel about residencies in Texas.
hopefully, the goal is to come up with an ACRL proposal so that we can do that
TL: Congratulations on be
the first class and being first class.
Being that he has a refined sense of both words and music, Whit seems like a good candidate for exploring and discovering some overlooked gems in the trove, and so in this occasional series, he’ll be presenting some of his noteworthy finds.
The genius of this Finnish group (1987-2008) was not only that they imported masterful instrumental takes on American surf garage rock back into our record stores, but that they also delivered blistering live shows to prove their point. Local Warming keeps it in cruise control with Sci-Fi guitars, greasy organ hooks, and a punkabilly rhythm section. The vibe veers off into prog and post rock at times, but thankfully never strays too far off the futuristic retro path. Crank up the old hovercraft and blast these instant classics!
Heart on its sleeve country-rock from a troubadour lifer, the late
Greg Trooper. Having penned songs for Vince Gill, Steve Earle (who provides a
true fan’s liner notes), Billy Bragg and others, Trooper showcases his beefy
baritone on these tough and touching jukebox-worthy originals. Forthright yet
dreamily reflective lyrics reveal river-deep themes swirling around love and
loss. Masterfully recorded and produced by Americana heavyweight Phil Madeira.
This Birmingham, Alabama duo flew low enough under the music biz
radar to miss out on fame, but high enough to attract critical accolades. On
this stylistically sprawling 21 track album, Brad Armstrong and Buzz Russell
share songwriting duties, and while both are lyrically rooted in southern
gothic, the music swerves back and forth – sometimes abruptly – between lo-fi
avant pop rock and brooding folk. Think Mark Linkous and Elliot Smith (both
ghosts themselves) fussing over fuzz pedals and tape loops in some creaky
pineywoods cabin. Or better yet, don’t think. Just tune in and tag along on
this richly rewarding backroads trip.
Mal Waldron / Soul Eyes : The
Mal Waldron Memorial Album
Not quite the jazz household name as Monk, Bud, or Duke, Waldron
was most certainly that special musician’s musician, as well as an accomplished
composer and sideman to the likes of John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, and Billie
Holliday. This compilation spotlights Mal as both solo artist and house pianist
for Prestige Records by showcasing various tracks from the Prestige All-Stars,
hard-bopping alongside Coltrane and Webster Young, Steve Lacy and Eric Dolphy.
Elegant, melodic, classic bop. Essential listening for even the most casual of
Minimalist chamber folk from Los Angeles singer-songwriter
Nastasia. On this, her first album, the musical moodiness is captured clean and
bright by Steve Albini’s bone-dry and in your face production. Hints of
dissonant strings and the occasional dark drums/goth guitar combo (“Roadkill,”
“Nobody Knew Her,” “Jimmy’s Rose Tattoo”) help to cut the treacle of Nastasia’s
almost too-sugary sweet vocals. Legendary BBC DJ Jon Peel declared the album