The Libraries, in partnership with the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (CREEES), recently launched the Documenting the Cold War site. The site serves as a hub for all digitized archival materials related to the Cold War from the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Archive, which are housed in the university’s online repository, Texas ScholarWorks.
This open access online archive was initiated by CREEES Director Mary Neuburger in an effort to digitize significant collections of primary documents from the the LBJ Presidential Library that enhance our understanding of the Cold War. Neuburger and her students coordinated with European Studies Librarian Ian Goodale to digitally-preserve identified materials. Goodale created the new site with Global Studies GRA Jyotsna Vempati, who crafted and implemented its design and user interface.
While select documents from the LBJ collection can already be found online, the project focused on the digitization of National Security country files from the former Eastern Bloc. Because these documents are open record, the LBJ Presidential Library has allowed unlimited scanning and open access presentation of such documents.
“We hope the site will further expand access to the amazing digital scholarship and digitized archival materials at UT,” says Goodale, “and that the resource will continue to be used as a research aid and pedagogical tool by users at UT and beyond.”
Widely recognized as literature of the people, the cordel (plural: cordéis) is a Luso-Brazilian literary form. The rhythmic, lyric poems are generally packaged as inexpensive chapbooks aimed at common folk. Cordel literature is practically synonymous with Brazil’s agricultural Northeast, a historically poor and drought-prone region.
While the cordel is a form that is almost synonymous with the verses written inside, it is strongly associated with the woodcut prints that adorn many covers. Often produced by self-taught artists, the cover art and other prints by these printmakers are much sought after by collectors.
You can currently see many examples of this form in Influencers: Cordel, Politics, and Activism in Brazil, an exhibition at the Benson Latin American Collection. Scheduled to correspond with Brazil’s bicentennial year and federal elections, this exhibition thinks especially about the role of politics in cordel literature, and of cordelistas as political actors and influencers.
Influencers draws from the Benson’s collection of around 10,000 chapbooks and was curated by Head of Special Collections Ryan Lynch. It is open for viewing through June 30, 2023. Check public hours for the Benson at https://www.lib.utexas.edu/about/locations/benson.
As the European Studies Librarian for the UT Austin Libraries, I am interested in exploring and encouraging connections between my subject areas and the broader global community. Understanding and advocating for disability is one way that this sense of global community can be fostered, as disability transcends national boundaries and affects people across the world.
Disabled people have consistently been marginalized and excluded from the historical record. Efforts to remedy this–and to reclaim the history and dignity of disabled people–are ongoing, and are burgeoned by digital studies and practice. Of especial interest at the moment is how the global pandemic has affected disabled people, and how their experience of the pandemic may differ from the non-disabled. The Disability Covid Chronicles from NYU aims to explore the stories of disabled people in NYC and let them tell, in their own words, how they experienced the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the project is still ongoing, essays and interviews from research-in-progress are available to view on their website. The project team is preparing an edited volume based on its research during the pandemic, and is also “building a publicly-accessible archive to preserve memories, stories, artworks, and other materials in a range of accessible formats” in collaboration with community members. In the words of the project team members, they “are preserving conversations on social media, records of digital public meetings, and photographs of street art and actions that are otherwise ephemeral. [Their] goal is to chronicle not only vulnerabilities, but creative initiatives for survival under these new conditions that are structured by old inequalities.”
In addition to the essays and interviews linked above, the fieldnotes section of the site highlights notable ephemera and other media–from posters and artwork to social media campaigns and more–that the team has encountered during its research. This is a great way to explore the diverse content available on the site, as the content is reloaded in a random order each time the page is refreshed. Notable entries from the page include this post recapping a survey from Special Support Services, an advocacy group for disabled students and their families, this post preserving artwork by Jen White-Johnson created to amplify the #MyDisabledLifeIsWorthy hashtag, and this post preserving artwork from Roan Boucher/AORTA: Anti-Oppression Resource and Training Alliance. You can also share your own resources at this link.
The site was built using WordPress, a popular content management platform. While free and open-source, WordPress does charge for hosting plans through its website, which can be a barrier for access to some. It also offers a large number of plugins that can make constructing a website less of a burden for those with less technical knowledge—such as the Random Post on Refresh plugin, which allows users to accomplish a similar randomizing functionality to the site’s Fieldnotes section. The site makes use of accessibility features, such as the “alt” tag in HTML, to ensure that those using screen readers or other assistive features can still access the site’s content. WordPress itself also makes a commitment to accessibility in its design and code.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a particularly strong impact on many disabled people, and having a site that documents and amplifies disabled perspectives and experiences is an important step toward creating a supportive and equitable culture for all. The site serves as a valuable resource related to the global pandemic, and its forthcoming edited volume and digital project will, I hope, further amplify and uplift disabled voices.
A project to provide digital access to an important collection of geologic cartography from the Walter Geology Library has been completed.
The Deep Time Maps are a collection of paleogeographic maps showing the landscapes and oceans of ancient Earth through hundreds of millions of years of geologic time. These maps are an extraordinary resource for geoscientists, but have been inaccessible to users due to limits on the technology available for allowing access to this large of a collection.
The project to make this resource accessible online through the Libraries’ online presence was an idea that had been sitting around collecting “digital dust” for quite some time due to limits on the technology available for our use.
Senior Content Management Specialist Stacy Ogilvie took lead on the project to provide digital access to views of the Earth’s continents over the course of millions of years through the Libraries’ unified management resource system component Alma Digital. Adding this collection to Alma Digital is a significant step in increasing its accessibility to our users and fulfilling a goal that our late colleague Dennis Trombatore had in purchasing the materials.
“The process also served as our first big test of adding a large collection to Alma Digital and the experience Stacy gained from working on this from scratch will help inform how we work more closely with SRD and add additional large collections to the Alma Digital workflow,” says Head of Content Management Corey Halaychik. “Her work on this front is invaluable to our team.”