Now that Dell Medical has adequately settled in, related programs really need some extra support. Enter Lynn Bostwick, our new Liaison Librarian for Health Sciences.
What’s your background in libraries, and how did you decide on librarianship as a career?
I decided on librarianship as a career because I was inspired in part by my grandmother who worked at the law library at SMU in Dallas when I was growing up. I learned from her to never take the access to information for granted. I also worked for a time for a non-profit providing medical information and community resources to the public, and realized then that I enjoyed the work of helping people access the information they need, so librarianship was a good fit for me. My background is in academic libraries and is varied! It includes all different types of work from cataloging and metadata creation for digitized items to reference and circulation to collection development, instruction and providing research help.
What’s your title, and what do you do for the Libraries?
My title is Liaison Librarian for Health Sciences. I work with students and faculty in Nutrition, Nursing, Pharmacy and Public Health providing them with classes and research help.
What motivates you to wake up and go to work?
Knowing I’ll have the opportunity to help someone or learn something each day.
What are you most proud of in your job?
Providing a class to Nutrition students and seeing the results in their posters on display in the Union Ballroom.
What has been your best experience at the Libraries?
All the people I’ve met so far – super students, faculty and colleagues! What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I LOVE football!
Dogs or cats?
I like dogs but have always had cats. We currently have a seal-point Siamese that rules our house.
Favorite book, movie or album?
Tough question! Favorite album is Alkohol – Goran Bregovic. Years ago I got to see Bregovic perform with his band at Bass Concert Hall.
Cook at home, or go out for dinner? What and/or where?
Both, but lately we’ve been going out to eat at Nori, a plant-based restaurant on Guadalupe that is so good!
What’s the future hold?
Catching up on travel post-pandemic and seeing more of the world!
The University of Texas Libraries is collaborating with other local heritage institutions to highlight the contributions of Black historians to the study of antiquity.
“Black Classicists in Texas” is a free public exhibition, celebrating the life and work of classicists of color in Austin and Central Texas. In 1900, Reuben Shannon Lovinggood, the Chair of the Greek and Latin Department at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, made an impassioned argument against those who minimized the value of liberal education, especially Classics, for Black people. In the same year, Lovinggood became the first president of Samuel Huston College (now Huston-Tillotson University), and a pillar of the Austin Black community.
But he was not the only one.
The exhibition tells the story of Central Texas’ early educators of color and their passion for the study of antiquity. Explore images, archival materials, interviews, and current scholarship to find out more about Lovinggood, L.C. Anderson, H.T. Kealing and their vibrant community of scholars, students and public intellectuals. Learn about Classics and its place in historic debates on Black self-determination, and find out more about classical education in Austin today.
This exhibition is a collaboration between the Department of Classics at the University of Texas at Austin, University of Texas Libraries, the Black Diaspora Archive at the LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, the Downs-Jones Library at Huston-Tillotson University, and the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center.Visit the three exhibition sites at the Benson Collection at the University of Texas at Austin, Huston-Tillotson University, and the Carver Museum.
For more information on the exhibitions, including a self-guided tour and additional resources, visit the Black Classicists in Texas website at https://bcatx.org/.
“Black Classicists in Texas” will be on view through December 22, 2023.
Over the past year, Adriana Cásarez, U.S. Studies and African Studies Librarian, played a key role in coordinating the “Black Classicists in Texas” exhibition project, and worked in partnership with Libraries’ colleagues Rachel E. Winston, Dr. D Ryan Lynch, Dr. Lorraine J. Haricombe, Shiela Winchester, Mary Rader, and Aaron Choate.
Over the last decade, there has been a proliferation of initiatives by GLAM institutions (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) using Linked Open Data technologies to enhance access to their collections. From nation-wide collaborative campaigns, such as the Program for Cooperative Cataloging Wikidata Pilot, to paradigm-shifting implementations, such as the transition of the Library of Congress cataloging operations to a hybrid MARC and BIBFRAME environment, the growing availability of tools, ontologies and platforms are finally allowing cultural heritage institutions to explore the promises of linked data.
Librarians and archivists see the potential in Wikidata as a pragmatic solution for managing local authorities in a linked data environment; Wikidata is increasingly used for research and increasingly integrated into software applications, including Library Service Platforms like Alma/Primo.
The UT Linked Data Learning Group, an informal community of practice at The University of Texas at Austin, composed of professional staff working in archives and libraries, convenes monthly to address the need for pragmatic ways to integrate linked data into routine workflows. We collaborate to build knowledge, skills, and institutional support for linked data initiatives in our respective institutions.
In 2022, group efforts focused on building knowledge and skills around Wikidata. Some members of the UT Linked Data Learning Group have been exploring and using Wikidata in various projects in recent years. This group aspired to leverage those members’ knowledge and skills to train other staff through a hands-on peer learning experience, with intentions to expand awareness and surface opportunities for integrating Wikidata into existing and future work. To that end, group members designed and delivered a 2-day virtual Wikidata Workshop on January 12-13, 2023.
Staff familiarity with Wikidata and Linked Data
Enhanced linked data ecosystem relevant to Texas Cultural Heritage
Expanded impact of Handbook of Texas diversification efforts (adding & enhancing Wikidata entries about Texas women)
Building a community of practice – campus representation among 36 registrants:
UT Libraries Content Management unit
UT Libraries Access Systems unit
UT Libraries Branch & Borrower Services unit
UT Libraries Stewardship department
UT Libraries Alexander Architectural Archives
UT Libraries Benson Latin American Collection
Harry Ransom Center
Briscoe Center for American History
Tarlton Law Library
Texas Digital Library
School of Information
Hands-on peer learning to build new skills:
21 active editors contributed to Wikidata throughout the workshop. Some continued with contributions after the workshop.
31 new items created in Wikidata for entries represented in the Handbook of Texas
74 existing Wikidata items updated with data from the Handbook of Texas
835 new references for Wikidata statements citing the Handbook of Texas as a source
Individuals involved in designing and delivering the workshop: Melanie Cofield, Head of Access Systems, University of Texas Libraries (UTL); Brenna Edwards, Manager for Digital Archives, Harry Ransom Center; Paloma Graciani-Picardo, Metadata Librarian and Head, Printed & Published Media, Harry Ransom Center; Katie Pierce Meyer, Head of Architectural Collections, UTL; Michael Shensky, Head of Research Data Services, UTL; Yogita Sharma, Alexander Architectural Archives team member, UTL; and Elliot Williams, former DPLA Metadata Aggregation Outreach Coordinator for Texas Digital Library.
On April 20, the Libraries participated in Bike to UT Day, an event promoting cycling and celebrating bicycle commuters and human-powered transportation at UT Austin.
Sean O’Bryan, Britt Wilson, and Andrew Nolan attended the event and promoted UT Libraries’ “Pick It Up” service and LibHub delivery while displaying UT Libraries’ delivery bicycle. The event was well attended despite the rainy forecast and many attendees stopped to talk about the delivery bike and UT Libraries’ services.
Always a conversation starter, the bike was especially of interest to passing Faculty, Facilities staff, and library supporters many of whom took pictures of it. Also, the event turned out to be a good recruiting venue as we were able to recruit an enthusiastic new student worker for LibHub who is excited about being able to move requested library resources around campus by bicycle.
All in all, it was a successful event and good PR for the Libraries’ “Pick It Up” service. See the video below.
Next year, I’ll have been a librarian for 10 years, and there are many things that I’ve come to learn and appreciate in my time in the profession. I’m a subject specialist, the liaison librarian for Middle Eastern Studies at UT Austin. I manage library services for researchers interested in the Middle East as well as collections from or about the Middle East. I also coordinate services and collections for the History department. Both roles have allowed me to consider and question the boundaries that researchers and librarians alike have maintained regarding the types, priority, and value of library collections, particularly our physical collections. While all cultural heritage has value, it is usually what we call special collections or rare books that are the most highly prized. They tend to cost more, there are fewer of them, and they require special handling because of their age and/or material. Special collections are often stored in a separate and distinct space, served by dedicated and highly trained personnel, and permitted for use in controlled circumstances. What happens, however, when a valuable, rare item is kept in the regular stacks of the library’s general collections? How did it get there and why would a librarian keep it there? I want to explore these questions with two examples from the Middle East collections at UT Libraries that have allowed me to design new approaches to teaching and learning with the special collections in our stacks.
In summer 2022, I had the honor to represent UT Libraries on an acquisitions and networking trip in Istanbul and Ankara, Türkiye. I met with a private collector in Istanbul, to whom I had been introduced by one of our regular Türkiye vendors, and purchased a number of titles in Arabic that had been published in Egypt. (It is perhaps curious that I’d go looking for Arabic in a country where the principal language in Turkish, and I’ve written about how and why I do this here.) One of those titles was al-Fath: Sahifah Islamiyah ‘Ilmiyah Akhlaqiyah, an intellectual journal circulated in the early 20th century. This journal is a crucial, backbone source for the intellectual, political, and legal history of the Middle East. It covers a variety of topics, including modernist Islamic thought, modern Egyptian history, Arabic language, British colonial history, Palestine and Zionism, Ottoman history, ethics, and the moral landscape of early 20th century Egypt. It is often cited by intellectuals of its time period (indicating its contemporary import), but it’s not widely available for research consultation in North America . Although North American scholars—including several at UT Austin in the departments of Middle Eastern Studies and History––have seen this title cited, and desired to consult the periodical themselves, many have been unable to do so. Only three North American institutions, including UT Austin, can claim to have a complete copy, while a handful of others have some volumes but not others. Considering the journal was published from 1926 – 1948, such spotty coverage is often inevitable. Additionally, al-Fath has not been digitized (which runs contrary to the growing researcher expectation for the digital availability of such essential materials).
When I brought al-Fath to the UT Libraries, I knew there would be a significant community of interest around it and that it would be an ideal locus for scholarly exchange. I partnered with Dr. Samy Ayoub (Department of Middle Eastern Studies and the UT School of Law) to prepare and host a reading workshop on al-Fath for faculty and graduate students in January 2023. Over the course of the fall semester, the UT Libraries’ Content Management department was able to complete the description and processing of al-Fath, getting it into the stacks in record time for researchers. This gave Dr. Ayoub and me time to prepare for the workshop with the help of Dr. Ahmad Agbaria (the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies), who specializes in 20th century Arab intellectualism. While these two faculty members selected passages and legal cases for workshop attendees to read and interpret, I prepared a display of contemporary periodicals from our collections to provide greater context and comparison for al-Fath.
At the one-day workshop, faculty and graduate students with advanced reading knowledge of Arabic came together to unearth the treasures of this periodical for a new audience. Dr. Ayoub introduced the conceptual framework of the workshop and the thinking behind the selection of passages to read. Dr. Agbaria provided an excellent introduction to the scholarship of the period and the biography of al-Fath’s founding editor, Muhibb al-Din Khatib. I took the attendees through the acquisitions process for this title and introduced contemporary works from our collections, demonstrating the great company that al-Fath keeps in the stacks. These titles include Akhir Sa’ah, al-Qiblah (another journal edited by Khatib),Jaridat al-Balagh al-Usbu’i (a selection of which is now part of UT Libraries’ Digital Collections), and al-Muqtataf. We then spent the morning reading passages together, taking turns leading the discussion. For the afternoon session, we divided into small groups to read reports of legal cases and then share out our analysis with the others.
The workshop’s attendees walked away with a greater understanding of 20th-century Arab scholarship and legal thinking, and intimate familiarity with a (new-to-them) text that they can use in their teaching and research. Even faculty who have been with the university for most of their careers learned from the introductions and book display about materials helpful for their research that they hadn’t known were in our collections. The graduate students had the essential experience of close-reading a text in Arabic, which is a skill that they will need for their thesis and dissertation research . In many ways the workshop followed a classic philological approach by focusing on reading a text. However, through collaboration, and by combining the expertise of scholars 1) in a range of fields within the discipline of Middle Eastern Studies and 2) of different experience levels, we were able to read al-Fath in its own context, building the bigger picture against which to lay our understandings of discrete intellectual and political trends.
Banking on Ephemera
Before the pandemic, I began accepting donations of Middle East banking and finance materials: pamphlets, brochures, reports, and guides. These formats are the kind usually produced only once as an annual bank report, or a visitor’s guide to a financial institution that would’ve been updated regularly (and the outdated copies destroyed). For their impermanent nature, they are known as “ephemera” in the library world. They are inherently rare, as they were produced only once and in limited numbers. On top of that, most people would probably dispose of such materials in their personal possession. Think about the last time that you visited a tourist site and received a map or brochure––did you keep it? If you did, had it been folded or creased, beaten up at the corners from use? To find such materials at all, and then to find them in pristine condition, is rare indeed. I am sincerely grateful to the donor, UT Austin Emeritus Professor of Government Clement Henry, for his generous gift, which has made UT Libraries a destination for research on Middle East banking in the 20th century.
In accepting the gift of these materials, I recognized that they would be something to advertise widely to increase their accessibility. The UT Libraries’ Digital Stewardship department created superb images of some of the donated materials, as well as of some of our existing Middle East bank-related holdings, which I was able to turn into a digital exhibit. I also had the opportunity to build a physical exhibit in the Perry-Castañeda Library Scholars Commons, which was on view from November 2022 – March 2023. The physical exhibit featured some materials from the digital exhibit, and a number of other items that are better appreciated in person. One of those items is a map of the Turkish Central Bank branches and country infrastructure in the Central Bank’s 1955 annual report. A bank report is probably not the first place a researcher would think to find a map of Turkish financial and transportation infrastructure, which is why I wanted to highlight these materials for researchers at all levels of experience. My role as librarian is to make critical connections between researchers and the materials that will make a difference for their scholarship, and my day-to-day observations from our collections are essential for that work. The digital and physical Middle East banking exhibits were ways that I could demonstrate the scholarly utility of ephemeral, often neglected materials such as these.
To honor the launch of the exhibits and the efforts of Dr. Henry to donate his incredible personal research collection to UT Libraries, the UT Libraries hosted a lecture by Dr. Henry titled, “Banks in the Political Economies of the Middle East and North Africa.” I sought to build upon the exhibits and Dr. Henry’s lecture by holding two “study hours” in the days preceding the main lecture event. Partnering with faculty in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies, I brought two advanced undergraduate courses into the Perry-Castañeda Library Learning Labs to physically engage with our Middle East banking collection. I pulled a selection of materials that I hoped would be fascinating and created an exercise for the students to do in small groups. A tangential benefit of the Middle East banking collection is that it is in English, French, Arabic, Persian, and Turkish, and comes in a variety of formats from monographs to pamphlets to serial reports. There’s a little something for everyone, and language does not need to be a barrier to understanding. This was the intention of the original authors of the bank reports and pamphlets, of course, who sought to broaden the investor base of their institutions.
As primary sources, these materials represent a period of rapid change and interaction with the conceptualizations and implementations of the term “modernity.” Students in two very different courses on the contemporary Middle East were able to handle these rare and special ephemera and consider such issues as: choice of language(s); paper quality; color versus black and white images; length; frequency of publication; and choice of topics covered in the material (some of which were quite political). At a time when many students engage with library collections in a primarily digital form, and often with secondary sources that may only summarize the primary essence of the research, these study hours became precious moments for students to connect with the different, unfamiliar medium of ephemeral print and determine for themselves what it signifies to have access to these materials.
Keeping Special in the Stacks
So what happens when a valuable, rare item is kept in the regular stacks of the library’s general collections? It gets used and appreciated. Researchers access it more readily, students can stumble upon it while working on a term paper, and the item itself remains in a context of similar and complimentary works. It adds value to its shelf and stacks row and makes exploring the floors of the university library that much more interesting. There is almost no barrier to access, particularly in the public university environment of UT Libraries, and so even the most novice of researchers has a chance to benefit from this material. As Middle Eastern Studies Librarian, I intend to keep adding special and rare materials to our collection, not simply or only as a means of distinguishing the UT collection from others, but also because it is possible and currently a beneficial practice to make these materials available to all researchers who walk in our doors. I believe that the value of these items exists in the perceived tension between their rarity and their easy physical access, and I ask readers of this blog post to reconsider the hierarchy of rare and general collections.
Dale J. Correa, PhD, MS/LIS, Middle Eastern Studies Librarian & History Coordinator, University of Texas Libraries