All posts by Texlibris

CELEBRATING THE BIRTH AND LIFE OF GLORIA ANZALDÚA

“I am a Libra (Virgo cusp) with VI — The Lovers destiny”: Celebrating the Birth and Life of Gloria Anzaldúa by Julia Davila Coppedge

Image of Gloria Anzaldúa by Annie F. Valva.


Her Life

Seventy-seven years ago, on September 26th, Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa was born to migrant farmers Urbano and Amalia Anzaldúa in Raymondville, Texas. As the oldest of four, she helped work on ranches and farms to help support her family. It was during this time in the Valley that she first learned about discrimination against Mexican Americans. Anzaldúa would later leave South Texas, living in other parts of the state, and in Indiana and California. She would also spend a large part of her career traveling internationally. But, her experiences growing up in the borderlands would influence her writing for the rest of her career, as she alludes to, when states that “I am a turtle, wherever I go I carry ‘home’ on my back.”

Anzaldúa was a self-described “tejana patlache (queer) nepantlera spiritual activist.” Her contributions to U.S. American literature, U.S. feminisms, queer theory, postcolonial theory, and Chicana/o Studies cannot be overstated. Anzaldúa won many awards in her lifetime including the National Endowment for the Arts Fiction Award (1991) and the Lambda Lesbian Small Book Press Award (1991).

Anzaldúa died on May 15, 2004 due to Diabetes-related complications. It is fitting we celebrate Anzaldúa’s life in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month, which is observed September 15th – October 15th.

Her Time at UT Austin

Anzaldúa received her master’s degree in English and Education in 1972 at UT and returned in 1974 to pursue a PhD in Literature. In the foreword to the third edition of This Bridge Called My Back: Writings By Radical Women of Color, she reflected on her stuggles at UT: “As a Chicana, I felt invisible, alienated from the gringo university and dissatisfied with both el movimiento Chicano and the feminist movement…I rebelled, using my writing to work through my frustrations and make sense of my experiences.”

While at UT Austin, Anzaldúa also taught a class called “La Mujer Chicana.” During this time she struggled to find materials that reflected the experiences of her students, which drove her to edit the anthology.

The class “Ethnicity & Gender: La Chicana” is still offered at UT through the Mexican American and Latina/o Studies (MALS) Department. In 2011 the Center for Mexican American Studies (CMAS) dedicated the West Mall building room 512.6 as the Gloria Anzaldúa Student Activities Room.

Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestizaje

Borderlands is a semi-autobiographical collection of poems and essays which draw on Anzaldúa’s experience as a Chicana and lesbian activist. The text is characterized by its sophisticated use of code-switching, “exploring Latinx and Chicana identity while also furthering an artistic vision.” Norma Élia Cantú and Aída Hurtado said in the introduction to the fourth edition:

“When Borderlands was published there was hardly a public discourse addressing multiculturalism. Anzaldúa’s persistent mixing of cultures, languages, and even writing genres, as exemplified in the structure and content of Borderlands, was blasphemous. The ‘cultural wars’ were in full force inside and outside the academy. The 1980s and early 1990s was an era of the mainstream academics fighting to preserve the Western canon and of political mobilization by conservatives to add an amendment to the Constitution establishing English as the official language of the United States…. Under these historical conditions the publication of Borderlands was an act of courage was well as innovative intervention to continue advocating for cultural diversity, the inclusion of sexuality in all academic and political production, and a call to social justice based on inclusion rather than exclusion.”

In January 2012, twenty-five years after it was published, Borderlands was banned in the Tucson Unified School System in Arizona, as a part of a law banning Mexican American Studies in public schools. Pérez and Cantú said the ban “affirms the value of the work even as it attempts to deny it.” This policy was lifted in 2017 after a federal judge in Arizona ruled it unconstitutional.

Borderlands was translated into Italian in 2000 and Spanish in 2015, and a French translation of the book is currently underway. Anzaldúa’s original manuscripts and other written notes and materials for Borderlands can be found in Boxes 32 – 38 of the Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa Papers collection at the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection.

Her Legacy

In 2001, just three years before she died,  Anzaldúa reflected on the work of feminists of color in the foreword to the third edition of This Bridge Called My Back, saying “Yes, collectively we’ve gone far.” She continued, “But we’ve lost ground–affirmative action has been repealed, the borders have been closed, racism has taken new forms and it’s as pervasive as it was twenty-one years ago.” Eighteen years later the fight of People of Color, the LGBTQIA+ community, and working class people continues.

Emma Pérez says of Anzaldua’s work, “Long after the end of this century, her philosophy will endure. Gloria was an unassuming philosopher-poet whose words will inspire generations. She articulated our past to make sense of our present…She looked to the past to excavate hope for the future.”

This hope is reflected in Gloria Anzaldúa’s words, which inspire us today and are a testament to her lasting impact and legacy:

“This land was Mexican once,

was Indian always,

and is.

And will be again.”

Collection Highlights:

The Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa Papers [Mixed Materials]

The Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection is home to the personal archive of Gloria Anzaldúa, which contains “personal and biographical materials, correspondence, written works, research materials, photographs, audiovisual materials, and artifacts” documenting her life and career.

“The Benson Collection is also composing a complete bibliographic list of Anzaldúa’s personal library of more than 5000 books. This is an ongoing project, and interested researchers should contact the rare books reading room for this information.”

Longhorn Radio Network: Onda Latina

Chicanas And Literature (1977) [Sound Recording]

“Inez Hernandez Tovar and Gloria Anzaldúa discuss the political context and cultural work of Chicana writers. They explain that the Chicano movement provided some Chicano and Chicana writers the support and forums necessary to share their work. While mainstream publishing presses ignored minority voices, Chicanos and other groups were creating their own journals. These journals helped legitimate bilingualism among Chicanos as a vehicle of Chicano expression. Chicanas and Chicanos felt free to publish works written in a mixture of Spanish and English that reflected the language(s) they felt most comfortable in.”

Additional Works By Anzaldúa

This Bridge Called My Back: Writings By Radical Women of Color (4th Edition, 2015) edited by Gloria Anzaldúa [Book]

“A groundbreaking collection reflects an uncompromised definition of feminism by women of color.” Along with Cherríe Moraga, Anzaldúa co-edited this anthology.

Interviews / Entrevistas (2000) edited by AnaLouise Keating [Book]

“In this memoir-like collection, Anzaldúa’s powerful voice speaks clearly and passionately. She recounts her life, explains many aspects of her thought, and explores the intersections between her writings and postcolonial theory. For readers engaged in postcoloniality, feminist theory, ethnic studies, or queer identity, Interviews/Entrevistas will be a key contemporary document.”

The Gloria Anzaldúa Reader (2009) edited by AnaLouise Keating [Book]

“This reader–which provides a representative sample of the poetry, prose, fiction, and experimental autobiographical writing that Anzaldúa produced during her thirty-year career–demonstrates the breadth and philosophical depth of her work. While the reader contains much of Anzaldúa’s published writing (including several pieces now out of print), more than half the material has never before been published. This newly available work offers fresh insights into crucial aspects of Anzaldúa’s life and career, including her upbringing, education, teaching experiences, writing practice and aesthetics, lifelong health struggles, and interest in visual art, as well as her theories of disability, multiculturalism, pedagogy, and spiritual activism.”

Prietita and the Ghostwoman (1995) [Children’s Book]

“Ever since she can remember, Prietita has heard terrifying tales of la llorona — the legendary ghost woman who steals children at night. Against a background of vibrant folk paintings, Gloria Anzaldúa reinterprets, in a bilingual format, one of the most famous Mexican legends. In this version, Prietita discovers that la llorona is not what she expects, but rather a compassionate woman who helps Prietita on her journey of self-discovery.”

Friends From the Other Side / Amigos del otro lado (1993) [Children’s Book]

“Having crossed the Rio Grande into Texas with his mother in search of a new life, Joaquin receives help and friendship from Prietita, a brave young Mexican American girl.”

Works Inspired by Anzaldúa

Imaniman: Poets Writing In the Anzaldúan Borderlands (2016) Edited by Ire’ne Lara Silva and Dan Vera [Book]

“Named for the Nahuatl word meaning “their soul,” IMANIMAN presents work that is sparked from the soul: the individual soul, the communal soul. These poets interrogate, complicate, and personalize the borderlands in transgressive and transformative ways, opening new paths and revisioning old ones for the next generation of spiritual, political, and cultural border crossers.”

Bridging: How Gloria Anzaldúa’s Life and Work Transformed Our Own (2011) edited by AnaLouise Keating and Gloria González-López [Book]

“The inspirational writings of cultural theorist and social justice activist Gloria Anzaldúa have empowered generations of women and men throughout the world. Charting the multiplicity of Anzaldúa’s impact within and beyond academic disciplines, community trenches, and international borders, Bridging presents more than thirty reflections on her work and her life, examining vibrant facets in surprising new ways and inviting readers to engage with these intimate, heartfelt contributions.”

Entre Guadalupe y Malinche: Tejanas In Literature and Art (2016) edited by Inés Hernández and Norma Elia Cantú [Book]

“Mexican and Mexican American women have written about Texas and their lives in the state since colonial times. Edited by fellow Tejanas Inés Hernández-Ávila and Norma Elia Cantú, Entre Guadalupe y Malinche gathers, for the first time, a representative body of work about the lives and experiences of women who identify as Tejanas in both the literary and visual arts.

The writings of more than fifty authors and the artwork of eight artists manifest the nuanced complexity of what it means to be Tejana and how this identity offers alternative perspectives to contemporary notions of Chicana identity, community, and culture.”

This volume was dedicated principally to Gloria Anzaldúa.

Spiritual Mestizaje: Religion, Gender, Race, and Nation In Contemporary Chicana Narrative (2011) by Theresa Delgadillo [Book]

“Delgadillo analyzes the role of spiritual mestizaje in Anzaldúa’s work and in relation to other forms of spirituality and theories of oppression. Illuminating the ways that contemporary Chicana narratives visualize, imagine, and enact Anzaldúa’s theory and method of spiritual mestizaje, Delgadillo interprets novels, memoir, and documentaries. Her critical reading of literary and visual technologies demonstrates how Chicanas challenge normative categories of gender, sexuality, nation, and race by depicting alternative visions of spirituality.”

El Mundo Zurdo: Selected Works from the Meetings of The Society for the Study of Gloria Anzaldúa 2007 & 2009 (2010) edited by Norma Alarcón, Norma Cantú, Christina Gutiérrez, and Rita Urquijo-Ruiz [Book]

“This collection of essays, poetry, and artwork brings together scholarly and creative responses inspired by the life and work of Gloria Anzaldúa. The diverse voices represented in this collection are gathered from the 2007 national conference and 2009 international conference of the Society for the Study of Gloria Anzaldúa (SSGA). More than 30 scholars, activists, poets, and artists contributed to EL MUNDO ZURDO, whose release coincides with the SSGA’s second annual international conference in San Antonio, Texas.”

El Mundo Zurdo 5 : selected works from the 2015 meeting of the Society for the Study of Gloria Anzaldúa (2015) edited by Domino Renee Perez, Larissa M. Mercado-López, and Sonia Saldívar-Hull [Book]

“A collection of diverse essays and poetry that offer scholarly and creative responses inspired by the life and work of Gloria Anzaldúa, selected from the 2015 meeting of The Society for the Study of Gloria Anzaldúa.”

Women reading women writing: self-invention in Paula Gunn Allen, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Audre Lorde (1996) by AnaLouise Keating [Book]

“As self-identified lesbians of color, Paula Gunn Allen, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Audre Lorde negotiate diverse, sometimes conflicting, sets of personal, political, and professional worlds. Drawing on recent developments in feminist studies and queer theory, AnaLouise Keating examines the ways in which these writers, in both their creative and critical work, engage in self-analysis, cultural critique, and the construction of alternative myths and representations of women.”


Julia Davila Coppedge is the LLILAS Benson User Services GRA. She conducts in-person and online reference requests for patrons using library materials from the Special Collections and circulating collection. Julia is also a 2nd year Master of Science in Information Studies Candidate at UT Austin.

For more inclusive reading lists, visit the blog of the UT Libraries’ Diversity Action Committee.

You Can Go Home Again

Despite his spare frame and quiet demeanor, Greg Lipscomb isn’t a wallflower, especially regarding his thoughts on the subject of libraries.

“The library is just in my veins,” he says. “I cannot imagine living in a society or a culture that doesn’t have a library.”

Lipscomb is the incoming chair of the UT Libraries’ Advisory Council and has just committed to a large planned gift for the Libraries, so I’m sitting with him to find out why.

Greg Lipscomb.

He begins by recounting the period during his study at UT in the early 1960s when a confluence of history and wanderlust compelled him in a direction that would ultimately lead him on a fifty-year journey away from Austin, on an odyssey of professional work and travel that would brush against events of notable historical significance.

“It was at the end of 1961 – the end of my sophomore year – I was over in one of the massive reading rooms in the Tower with the beams above and the wide tables and so forth, and at the end of finals, I stood up and I went out and took on the world as best I could see it in my own interpretation,” says Lipscomb, “and I was gone from that sort of setting for 50 years.” 

Lipscomb expresses that he wasn’t walking away from his college career or academic endeavor forever – he went on to graduate Phi Beta Kappa from UT – but the draw of civic responsibility was too compelling to ignore. This was the time of John Kennedy’s clarion call to public service, and the cacophony of protest was growing audibly across the campus. 

“You have to realize that in the 60s, you could literally be in class — many times we had the windows open because there wasn’t air conditioning — and you could hear civil rights demonstrations out on Guadalupe,” he says. “And there was this pull. John Kennedy was in office and he was making politics elegant again for the first time since Roosevelt. And the notion of public service was big.”

The urge to be part of something larger than himself became too strong to dodge, and led him down a five-decade path which presented the opportunities that ultimately formed him as a person.

“I felt the need to play a concrete role in the changes that were happening, so I got involved in student politics,” he recounts. “I got involved in civil rights. I went off to the army because of Vietnam. I went around the world. I went to California and worked for Jerry Brown. Went to Washington and worked for the Democrats there. Went to Harvard for the Kennedy School,” 

Lipscomb became an active leader in the student civil rights protests at UT, was elected student body president in 1964, and used his standing to make the final push to get the regents to integrate the dorms on campus. He and a carload of his journalism colleagues from The Daily Texan drove 800 miles to document the fateful march at Selma, Alabama. As a member of ROTC, Lipscomb landed in an intelligence unit at the Pentagon during the war in Vietnam. After hitchhiking around the world with his wife, he worked at the San Francisco Chronicle, which propelled him into California politics, including a position in Governor Jerry Brown’s administration. He later returned to D.C. as a speechwriter for the first African American chair of the Federal Communications Commission. Any pairing of these life events might be enough to mention; that they’re woven into a single period of a single life is remarkable.

Amid his extended interlude in the Beltway at the FCC, Lipscomb began to seek distraction through some of the intellectual rigor that he left behind in college. He surveyed his environs and eventually wound up bumping around the library at George Washington University (GWU). After being given broad access to resources there, he felt an obligation to do what he could to return the favor, and approached the library’s development office to make a donation. Library administrators thought that as someone with no significant ties to GWU, Lipscomb might provide a valuable perspective as chair of their advisory board. His acceptance of that role enjoined him to a cause in libraries.

“Several years later, I decided retirement was timely. I was burned out on Washington. It had changed in temperament.”

The experience at GWU also elicited a change in him. Lipscomb summoned the earlier version of himself, making a conscious attempt to return to the point in time when he walked out of the library back in 1961 to take on the world. He wanted to find a place to settle where he would have ready access to the knowledge resources of a library, and began to consider all the familiar places from his past. 

“And then, in 2014, I came back to Austin and I sat down at the same place and picked right up where I left off. What I was reading, what I was writing,” he says. “It’s like T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets – ‘in my beginning is my end,’” says Lipscomb.

Lipscomb personifies this internalized value as “The Eternal Sophomore.” “That’s the kind of mindset I say with affection. You’re on the precipice, but your mind is still fresh, your attitude is fresh. And I saw the library reading room as a sort of cathedral, a sacred space. That’s sort of where I came back and picked up.”

“Coming back was a huge decision, and I came back humbled – and a little appalled at my arrogance sometimes along the way. Also proud of certain things and people I worked with, and causes I worked on. But I was ready to keep learning as a sophomore.”

And some undergraduates on campus might recognize him as a fixture in their world, or, perhaps, as a fellow traveler. Lipscomb’s loyalty to self-improvement through learning means he spends a significant chunk of his time on campus, much of it on the upper floors of the Perry-Castañeda Library. 

“Within the closures of this building – if I had food and medicine – I could be here indefinitely,” he says. “Right now I spend about 20 hours a week – it’s a part-time job. I got up to that writing some personal stuff and just catching up on all the reading I never got to, the great reading.”

Lipscomb continued to feel a responsibility to the Libraries when he returned to Austin, wanting  to carry through on the advocacy role he’d taken on at George Washington. He expressed interest to administrators at the UT Libraries, and was invited to join the council in 2014 where he has been a consistent participant not only at regular meetings, but as a vocal proponent and supporter both on campus and beyond.

Still, Lipscomb’s primary drive is in discovery and personal growth. That lengthy period of working on behalf of others has earned him the opportunity to focus on his interests, and he’s taking full advantage of it.

“The library to me is a great conversation,” he says. “I think of it in terms of books – but these books, they talk back and forth. And you can tell the mentor and the mentee — like in a translation of The Iliad or something — one passes on to the other. It’s the DNA of ideas. You can start out with just a germ of a phrase and watch it blossom into something right there.”

But even the bibliophile in Lipscomb recognizes the value of a diverse array of resources. He’s spoken extensively with library professionals about the transition to digital resources and the advantage it gives to preservation, and he’s been in active attendance at all of the public discussions in the last year related to a task force on the future of UT Libraries, where the conversation about the value of books and the impact of technology has real currency. 

He especially appreciates the benefits that technology brings to research, particularly in making discovery significantly more efficient: “You can do it digitally. That’s a different training that I’m having to come up to, but I respect it. It’s easy to say, ‘Everybody’s just channel-surfing through nothing more than a paragraph or two.’ It’s a mile wide and an inch deep. But, also, you can search, you can go backwards and forwards. Software is beginning to mimic the brain, or learning as we know it.”

Whatever the challenges that have arisen since he was an undergraduate at UT, Lipscomb feels his experience all pointed him back to this place.

“I didn’t realize back in 1961 how much had been passed on to us in terms of the resources and the staff, the wonderful reading rooms – I didn’t realize until later,” says Lipscomb. “That’s when it occurred to me that I owed something.”

“The library function, role, the sanctuary, the passing on from one culture to another –  it’s an optimistic enterprise,” he continues. “It says, ‘We have here your past, which is valuable, and you have to carry it forward.’ That’s what we do in the libraries. You owe current and future generations the gratitude that you received.” 

“There is almost a Buddhist sense of circularity…returning to where you started. You come back and pay respects to the master that formed you. The mentor, the habits, the patterns, the depth of thinking.”

Vacation in a Book

There’s still time left in the summer to take in a few books and an exhibit currently on view at the Perry-Castañeda Library has some suggestions to offer.

Vacation in a Book” features staff-selected volumes with a broad travel theme for your summer leisure reading pleasure. Staff offer recommendations for everything from a 16th century travelogue to fantasy stories in which the characters travel to another land.

Graduate research assistants in Teaching and Learning Services Ginny Barnes and Natalia Kapacinskas supplemented recommended items with other adventurous materials from the Libraries’ collections (including an oddity about cats in Istanbul available through our Kanopy streaming service).

As with all of our displays, “Vacation in a Book” highlights our deep circulating collections, this time in a fun and summery way to highlight the varied interests of our staff.

On view on the third floor of PCL through August 3.

Here are some of the offerings:

Meet the Talents: Lydia Fletcher

Liaison Librarian for Physical and Mathematical Sciences Lydia Fletcher is currently co-chairing the STEM Librarians South conference, which brings together information professionals and academics from across the Southern U.S. and beyond to share their ideas, current research, best practices, and unique insights that help librarians advance the cause of STEM education and research.

When not organizing conferences, Lydia provides research, teaching and publishing support for all students, faculty and staff in the departments of Physics, Mathematics, Astronomy, Statistics & Data Science, Computer Science and Electrical & Computer Engineering.

She graciously agreed to answer a few questions about her work and experience for us.


Lydia Fletcher
Lydia Fletcher

Tex Libris: First love — librarianship or science?

Lydia Fletcher: Definitely science! Especially space science – I wanted to be an astronaut for a really long time, and I went to Space Camp when I was 10. Some of my favorite memories as a kid involved going to Johnson Space Center in Houston. I couldn’t get enough of the place! But at some point I got more interested in history and literature, and even though I was always excited by whatever NASA was doing, for a while I focused on other things.

Lydia Fletcher: Definitely science! Especially space science – I wanted to be an astronaut for a really long time, and I went to Space Camp when I was 10. Some of my favorite memories as a kid involved going to Johnson Space Center in Houston. I couldn’t get enough of the place! But at some point I got more interested in history and literature, and even though I was always excited by whatever NASA was doing, for a while I focused on other things.

Science Legos on a shelf in Lydia’s office.
Science Legos on a shelf in Lydia’s office.

Where did you study?

LF: I did my BA at the University of Texas at San Antonio and did a Master of Studies degree at the University of Oxford in the UK. Both of those were in English, and it wasn’t until I started working in libraries and got my MSIS here at UT that I realized that I could work with scientists as a librarian. And that I love it!

When did you join the UT Libraries, and what drew you to Texas?

LF: My three year anniversary with the UT Libraries will be on August 15! Some days it feels like I just got here, and other days it feels like I’ve been here forever. Texas is home for me – I’m from San Antonio – and UT is an exciting place to work. I love getting to interact with the researchers here, especially the folks at McDonald Observatory.

Library at the McDonald Observatory.
Library at the McDonald Observatory.

Speaking of, you undertook a reorganization project for observatory a few years back. What did that entail, and what was the experience like?

LF: The folks out at McDonald Observatory wanted to make some improvements in the Otto Struve 82” Telescope (the original 1939 telescope) building ahead of their 80th anniversary this summer. The library collection had spilled out of the library into the hallways and they wanted me to help them clear those hallways. I got to spend a week at McDonald Observatory – which was amazing! – and at the end we identified materials to be brought back to Austin. I also helped them get former director Harlan Smith’s collection displayed more prominently and created a display collection of works by and about McDonald Observatory. It was a great collaboration and I’m very proud of how the library looks now.

Library at the McDonald Observatory.
Library at the McDonald Observatory.

What are your responsibilities?

LF: As a liaison librarian, I support students, faculty, and staff with their research needs in the departments I liaise with: Astronomy, Computer Science, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Mathematics, Physics, and Statistics & Data Science. At the moment that looks like working with faculty to make sure they understand some new National Science Foundation Open Access mandates, but it also includes a range of reference and scholarly communications support.

What aspect of your job is the most fulfilling?

LF: Solving puzzles for people. Sometimes I get reference questions where someone has an incomplete or incorrect citation, and I really love figuring those out. Or looking for a translation – recently someone wanted a translation of an article written in the Soviet Union in the 40s. I tracked a translation of it down to a microfilm held by the British Library and was able to scan a copy for the researcher. That was fun!

Your studies were in the humanities, but you’re immersed in science now. What are the differences you see in the discipline-specific approaches to research and general library use by STEM and humanities folks, and do you recognize any differences in styles within the departments you liaise with?

LF: Scientists are so different from people who do research in the humanities. Scientists use different materials from those in the humanities – most scientists rely on journals instead of books, but they also need things like datasets and specialty software. So, most of the students from those areas look to the libraries for computers where they can access all those things. I love that the Libraries IT staff do such a great job making sure we provide software like Mathematica and LaTeX. Of course, there are outliers even among scientists – Math researchers tend to be different from other scientists, and actually more like humanities researchers in that they love books!

What do you think the prospects are for wider adoption of open access practices by STEM faculty and researchers?

LF: It’s a little funny for me to talk about Open Access adoption because the departments I work most closely with – Physics, Math and Astronomy – are already committed to not just Open Access publishing but Open Science principles like data sharing. It’s almost universal to see Physicists and Astronomers making versions of their articles available as preprints, and most Astronomical data is publicly available. But they’ve been doing it for a long time already – the Arxiv preprint server was developed by Physicists in the early 1990s. I definitely think other disciplines will adopt open practices, but it will take some time. It doesn’t happen overnight. We just have to keep working on sustainable models and promoting them.

What are you reading this summer?

LF: I just finished “American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race,” since I’m so excited about the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
 

Lydia Fletcher.
Lydia Fletcher.

Still want to travel to space? Mars mission perhaps? Or the Space Force?

LF: If anyone at NASA or SpaceX is reading this and looking for a librarian to go to Mars, they can definitely call me.

After the Flood, PCL Edition

The Perry-Castañeda Library got a bit damp from the recent wet weather. A little too damp, actually.

On Friday, May 3, the Austin area experienced a series of thunderstorms beginning late in the afternoon that dumped a little over 4 inches of rain in the span of a few hours; not a remarkable amount in normal circumstances, but enough to create problems when you have a hole in the side of your building due to a ground-level construction project.

Exterior of the Welcome Center worksite.
Exterior of the Welcome Center worksite.

As a result, the unfinished drainage system being incorporated for the construction of the university’s Admissions Welcome Center wasn’t able to handle the volume of water and allowed a significant amount of water entered through the site and into the operational areas of the basement (1st) level at PCL.

“This is not unusual or considered a failure of the system; it’s simply an in-progress state,” said Jill Stewart, associate director of Project Management and Construction Services. “Due to the nature of incomplete work, the site had not been graded in such a way to purposefully direct water away from the Welcome Center site.”

Standing water viewed from the PCL's central stairway.
Standing water viewed from the PCL’s central stairway.

By that evening a student who noticed pooling water on the ground floor reported it to Libraries staff, and when facilities and preservation personnel were notified of the emergency they activated protocols to protect materials and enlisted the contractors to tackle the larger problem. Staff stayed into the early morning hours to assist the contractors in sandbagging the vulnerable construction area and coordinating with a water damage vendor to begin remediation of the affected spaces and prevent further spreading of moisture into other areas of the building.

Roughly half the floor was affected by flooding, including the InterLibrary Services, several offices for Libraries technology staff and the Texas Digital Library, and the area behind the service desk in the Map Room.

Standing water in the Map Room.
Standing water in the Map Room.

Given the dramatic nature of the incident, the Libraries collections and building fared quite well. The only library materials damaged were ten maps which were triaged and treated for water damage on the night of the flood — all of which have been salvaged for future use— and other items that were at nominal risk were nonetheless relocated for protection. The building level itself was inspected and treated to ensure the containment of moisture with a battalion of dehumidifiers and fans deployed throughout the floor, which ran nonstop for the days required to fully dry out the space.

Fans in an affected space.
Fans in an affected space.

Fans in an affected space.
Fans in an affected space.

Standing water in a first floor office.
Standing water in a first floor office.

The Welcome Center construction space with standing water.
The Welcome Center construction space with standing water.

Maps affected by the flood triaged before preservation treatment.
Maps affected by the flood triaged before preservation treatment.

Staff working to protect library resources.
Staff working to protect library resources.

Director Lorraine Haricombe was laudatory of the staff’s quick response to the emergency.

“We all, of course, wish this had not happened, but I am thankful that our library – and our University – can count on such dedicated and resourceful staff to respond when these things do happen,” said Haricombe.

“A number of staff members at PCL on Friday stayed long past their scheduled shifts and others came in from home or other locations, despite the downpour that evening, to help deal with flooding in ILS and the Map Room. Their efforts made it possible to move hundreds of collection items out of harm’s way and minimize damage to the collection.”

Aside from some temporary inconveniences to relocated staff and the chagrin of principals on the construction project, we consider ourselves pretty lucky. The concerted response by all involved has resulted in a speedy return to normal just in time for summer break.

The Dean of Texas Architecture*

“Now, when a young architect tells me about a project he’s proud of, I say, ‘Get photographs!’” — Frank Welch, On Becoming an Architect

Texas architect Frank Welch developed this outlook after one of his seminal creations – The Birthday in Sterling County, Texas – was plastered over in a renovation by a new owner, against the entreaties of Welch himself.

The Birthday was especially personal to Frank Welch as it was the first project for which he’d been given virtual carte blanche to design a building. So when he learned in 1997 – on the eve of receiving a major award for his work – that the current owner of the iconic building was planning to encircle Welch’s creation with a renovation of the original structure, he felt a profound sense of loss.

“I think the appropriate longhair word for what happened to the Birthday would be transmogrified. That was when I began to realize that nothing does endure,” recounts Welch in On Becoming an Architect.

This recognition of the temporal nature of things probably influenced the decision to place his papers at the Alexander Architectural Archives, where they are safely preserved for use by students, scholars and researchers for the foreseeable future.

Frank D. Welch was born in Sherman, Texas in 1927. An early affinity for drawing led him to art classes, where he honed his artistic abilities and developed a love for photography and architecture. By the time he graduated high school, he’d begun to think about becoming an architect.

In 1944, Welch enrolled at Texas A&M as a liberal arts major, but joined the Merchant Marine in order to avoid the draft, but after a 6 month stint and subsequent resignation, he was called up for Selective Service anyway. He served 18 months, then returned to College Station and enrolled in the architecture program.

Though recognized primarily for other strengths, A&M was a little-known bastion for modernist architecture. Welch posited that it was the prevailing aesthetic that made the area a natural fit for the school: “Architecture, coupled with technology, could improve people’s lives. Modernist design might have been urbane and sophisticated, but it appealed to the practical bent of an agricultural and engineering school.”

Welch earned his bachelors in 1951 and after accepting a one-year Fulbright Scholarship to France, returned to Texas to work at the firms of noted architects O’Neil Ford and Richard Colley, both of whose papers are also included in the Alexander Archives; Welch’s time with the two had a significant influence on his style, but it was Ford who brought him to the firm, and who made the greater impression on him. “Most important to me,” says Welch, “I would, from the exposure to Ford, become an architect with a template: a model that guided me. From him I learned how to put building parts together in a direct, logical manner. Throughout my career, I would repeatedly think to myself, ‘How would Neil do it?’”

In 1959, Welch opened his own firm – Frank Welch & Associates – in Odessa in the basement of his brother-in-law’s clothing store, and a year later moved the practice to Midland, where it operated until the mid-1980s. Welch moved the firm to Dallas in 1985, and continued designing buildings until his death in 2017. The firm primarily designed residences but was also active in commercial and public projects, with notable projects like the Midland Episcopal School (1963), the Forrest Oil Building (1974), the Blakemore Planetarium (1972), the Purnell House in Dallas (1981), and the Nasher-Haemisegger House in Dallas (1997).

But it was the hunting cabin at Sterling City that Welch designed for John and BLee Dorn that was his masterwork. The Birthday was taught in classes and the building quickly came to be seen as an icon of regional architecture. When TSA decided to present Welch with the organization’s distinguished 25-Year Award in 1997, they did so for the first time in tandem with another remarkable feat of Texas architecture, the Kimbell Museum – the only time that it has been given to two built works.

Above his work in the field, Welch’s interest and background in writing and literature led him to pen multiple volumes and contribute to several others, including On Becoming an Architect: A Memoir (2014), Thirty Houses, 1960-2012: Selected Residential Works of Architect Frank Welch (2015), and his essential work on another iconic American architect, Philip Johnson & Texas (2000). He also served as adjunct faculty at various institutions  –  Rice University, University of Houston, University of Texas at Arlington and University of North Texas –  and received accolades throughout his career, including the John Flowers Award in recognition of his writing and the Medal for Lifetime Achievement from the Texas Society of Architects, and Welch was the first recipient of the O’Neil Ford Medal for Design Achievement.

The Frank Welch Architectural Collection at the Alexander Architectural Archive presents the history of Welch’s firm spanning a period of over 50 years of practice (1959-2012). The university received the initial donation of materials for the archive in November 2011, consisting of research and reference materials (manuscript and photographic) and oral interviews pertaining to Welch’s book Philip Johnson & Texas (2000). Another, considerably larger donation was received in May 2012.

Currently processed materials indicate that the collection includes 150 linear feet of manuscript and photographic materials, 649 rolls or drawings (approximately 29,000 sheets) and approximately 10,000 slides of architectural projects. Most of the manuscript materials (ca. 1960-2010) are project files – or client files – and specifications. Professional papers include original research and writings, correspondence, clippings, association and committee papers, jurying and teaching materials and award entries. Office records are represented by business correspondence, phone message and work order books, and reference files. These include information on other architects and firms as well as architectural, landscape, and decorative resources. Personal papers are limited almost exclusively to correspondence.

*Along with his mentor, O’Neil Ford

 

Meet the Talents: Uri Kolodney

Uri Kolodney is the Hebrew, Jewish and Israel Studies Liaison Librarian as well as liaison for Film and Video at the UT Libraries. He recently took time to talk about his love of books and traveling abroad in search of rare volumes in a brief interview.

When did you start at the Libraries, and what made you decide to become a librarian?

Uri Kolodney book hunting in Israel.
Uri Kolodney book hunting in Israel.

Uri Kolodney: I started working on my Masters in Information Science (MSIS) at the Information School in Fall 2002, and got a job at the Libraries a couple of months later on December 2002. Worked as a GRA until my graduation, and started a full time position on September 2004.

I always loved books and reading and was a pretty nerdy child with thick horn-rimmed glasses and all. When I was 14 I even cataloged my own book collection at home (LOL). When I grew up I worked as a book restorer and paper conservator and also owned a book restoration business. Did that for around 15 years, and then decided to move to the States and get a librarian degree. So basically I worked with books all my life….

Do you keep up with your preservation skills? Also, I assume you have a pretty large personal library. What’s your favorite personal volume?

UK: I still keep my preservation ‘tool box’ with all kinds of scalpels, scissors, and knives, but I didn’t use it since I closed my business in Tel Aviv.

Favorite volume – tough question… I’d probably say the Hebrew translation of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey…  and also The magic of walking (English) – a great book from 1967 about my favorite outdoor activity.

A library stop in Jerusalem.
A library stop in Jerusalem.

Can you characterize your current job responsibilities?

UK: I am currently wearing two hats at the library – I manage the Hebrew/Jewish/Israel studies collection, and I also manage the library’s budget (across all subjects) for film & video. For each of these main areas, I am responsible for research support, scholarly communication, digital scholarship, collection development, engagement, and outreach.

Tell me a bit about your collections strategy for your subject areas. How do you decide what to buy, and how do you acquire it?

UK: The decision in what areas to collect has to do with the actual scope of the current collection, current research on campus, and the bibliographer who was/is curating the collection. When UTL started collecting Jewish and Hebrew resources almost 100 years ago, naturally the first items acquired were rabbinic literature, Kabbalah, Jewish history, philosophy, and law. By now we hold almost every seminal text in these subjects. During the years, different librarians collected in various subjects according to their own professional and personal connections, as well as their own interest. Those before me concentrated on Jewish items in Hebrew and Yiddish published mainly in the US, South America, and South Africa, with less attention to modern Israeli resources. Faculty and student requests are a great selection tool, as they reflect the current intellectual interest on campus. This intellectual ‘activity’ should be reflected in the collection. Communicating with ‘my’ faculty members, I know what are their research topics, so I’d select items that would fit their preferences. Sometimes, collection decisions have to do with cooperative initiatives among colleagues and universities across the US. For example, when it comes to Israeli cinema, my peers know that I am ‘taking care of it,’ so they would not duplicate efforts. On the other hand, I know that Ohio State and Arizona State collect extensively in other areas (literature/poetry and fanzines respectively), so I would be much more selective when it comes to those subjects.

Hazardous conditions in the book trade.
Hazardous conditions in the book trade.

For the mainstream Hebrew/Jewish/Israeli collection I rely on vendors’ catalogs, and once every few months I’d sit down and select relevant titles. I also select items ‘on the fly,’ or when the opportunity arises – either through correspondence with vendors, special offers, unique item that come up in an auction, etc. By now vendors I work with in Israel already know what I’m looking for and would let me know if anything that falls under my criteria comes their way. Consuming all sorts of media content in Hebrew (newspapers/blogs/social media), sometimes I would learn about a new ‘cool’ publication which would be a good candidate for the collection. Jewish resources in English are obviously purchased locally, and are much easier to get. Acquisition trips are another way to enrich the collection with unique items that cannot be purchased remotely online. Networking with vendors and collectors in the ‘field’ allows me to put my hand on rare items which I could not get any other way. These items are what makes our collection so special, as in many cases we are the only holders of these items.

Currently the prioritized subject areas I collect are Israeli cinema and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – that means everything which is and about these topics, either in Hebrew or English. Rarely I’d collect in other languages as well. Other topics of importance are Jewish and Israeli literature.

As for film & video, I solely rely on faculty and student requests, as our priorities in this area lie with teaching and curriculum needs on campus. Sometimes I would cooperate with subject liaisons and we would share expenses according to our funding policy. All of these purchases are done online, communicating with distributors, production companies, and individual directors/producers.

How do Libraries collections in your subject areas complement other notable special collections on campus, say for instance the Gottesman Collection or Isaac Bashevis Singer papers at the Ransom Center, or the Texas Jewish Collections at the Briscoe? Do the presence of those local collections impact your own area collections practices?

UK: While the Briscoe mainly holds personal archival collections of notable individuals, the UTL collection would hold the actual published works by those individuals, or works they have owned. For example, the Briscoe holds the Henry Cohen papers. Cohen (1863-1952) was a prominent Rabbi in Galveston between 1888 and 1949. But his personal library was donated to UT Libraries in 1948; it included over 5000 volumes related to rabbinical literature, Jewish history, as well as general sociology, psychology, and literature. Upon receipt, the Hebrew portion of the collection was named “The Henry and Mollie Cohen collection of Hebraica and Judaica.” During the years, when collections were moved around and re-arranged, this collection was included in the general PCL collection.

Another example is the HRC South African Judaica collection. While this collection mainly holds books, the PCL collection of South African Jewry complements it with many rare and unique holdings of South African Jewish periodicals. My predecessor in this position, Nathan Snyder (1944-2009), had personal and professional connection in South Africa and managed to build a unique collection of South African Jewish periodicals.

In my collection efforts I am trying not to duplicate holdings which already exist at the Briscoe or the HRC, as my goal is to strengthen our current collection with items not yet available on campus. Yet, since HRC and Briscoe holdings do not usually circulate, in some instances one could find a circulating copy of a specific title at PCL. From time to time, if I come across an item which would complement existing subject areas at PCL, I would definitely consider it for purchasing, even if it would not fall under current collection priorities.

Tell me a bit about your acquisitions trips. How do you decide when and where to go, and how have you established or built relationships with vendors overseas?

UK: Since the distinct language I collect is Hebrew, the only geographical area appropriate for international travel is Israel. Materials in other languages that have to do with Jewish, Hebrew, and Israel Studies could be purchased remotely either in the US or Europe. Depends on budget, I would usually go once a year during summer, usually around June. This is the time when the Israeli “Book week” is taking place around the country, and it is a good opportunity to come across alternative/non-mainstream items with reduced pricing. Sometimes I would plan my trip around specific conferences or film festival, in order to take advantage of opportunities to meet vendors and colleagues. Book fairs or film festivals present one-time opportunities, with limited edition publications which could not be purchased once the event is over. For example, in July 2016 I attended a reception at the Jerusalem Film Festival and managed to put my hand on a limited edition of the first issue of a new Israeli cinema periodical. It was never sold in the marketplace, and ceased publication in 2017, after its second issue was published. UT Library holds both issues and is the only institution outside of Israel to do so.

When I go on an acquisition trip, I would usually take one week to visit the big cities (Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa), and by now I know to which stores or markets to go to and where I could find what I am looking for. The second week I would travel to more remote or less-known locations, such as special book stores in kibbutzim, or institutions and organizations which are in the ‘periphery’ of the country. Planning the trip, I would schedule with individual collectors or vendors who live and work away from the main cities, and these are usually the locations where I would find the most valuable ‘treasures.’

One of Uri's book vendors in Haifa.
One of Uri’s book vendors in Haifa.

Another aspect of an acquisition trip is the invaluable networking with colleagues and vendors. During the years I managed to establish professional relationships with both mainstream, well-established vendors, as well as individual collectors, book shops’ owners, and auction houses. Since the marketplace is pretty small, it’s easy to make contact and get introduced. The personal face-to-face encounters are always the best way to get to those unique items I am looking for. Sometimes I would make the contact via email while planning my trip, and then would meet ‘in the field.’ Then, while visiting and meeting face-to-face, more contacts are ‘revealed’ and since I’m already there, I could go and pay a visit to newly introduced vendors. For example, just last month, during a private vacation in Tel Aviv, I accidently realized via social media that a well-known local collector is selling his collection. While paying him a visit two days later, I got introduced to other vendors and collectors; when I came back to Austin, this encounter already proved to be useful, as I have purchased additional materials from those new acquaintances.

I’m sure over the last 15 years, you’ve seen the Libraries undergo a lot of changes. What hopes do you have for the future, and what parts of the library tradition do you expect to (or want to see) hang around?

UK: Indeed, I’ve seen many changes during my time here, in services and spaces we offer, as well as in budgetary and curatorial priorities. Understandably, changes and shifts are part of life; also those in the workplace and the profession itself are unavoidable, and in most cases, highly appreciated by patrons. My hope is that the Libraries would continue to put patrons at the top of its priority list. Our patrons, students and faculty alike, are those who create and advance research, and we need to make sure we accommodate their needs, in any level and any field.

I like it that patrons see the Libraries as a hub on campus, and I like it that they see us as experts they could approach for help. I wish it would continue this way!

Arctic Escape from the Texas Summer

Climate Force logoLater this summer, three UT researchers will find themselves in the Arctic. Dr. Emily Beagle, currently a CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow working with Research and Data Services in UT Libraries, will join colleagues from mechanical engineering, Dr. Josh Rhodes and Dr. Todd Davidson aboard the National Geographic Explorer for a 12-day sustainability and leadership training in Svalbard, Norway. The expedition, Climate Force 2019, equips leaders with resources and actionable solutions to fight climate change.

stock_group_photo

The Expedition will be led by renowned explorer Sir Rob Swan, the first person to walk to both Poles. Over 90 other participants will join them from more than 25 countries with backgrounds in entrepreneurship, sustainability, energy, and education. This is more than just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the Arctic. Participants will attend presentations and trainings given by other group members to share expertise, cultivate collaborative relationships and develop actionable solutions for a more sustainable future. Beagle, Rhodes and Davidson will be giving presentations on their energy related research while on the trip.

“We were invited to apply by Sir Rob Swan when he visited UT last year and then had several rounds of application essays and interviews before being formally accepted to the group.” Beagle says. “It’s an honor to have been asked to join such an esteemed and accomplished group of people that make up not only the Expedition leaders but also all the other participants.”

“As engineers and energy experts we will be the ones to develop the solutions needed to solve climate change so it is important for us to be there at the table for these conversations.” Beagle says.

Emily Beagle is a CLIR Fellow in  Data Curation for Energy Economics currently in residence at the Libraries. 

 

Texas Archival Resources Online Receives NEH Grant

The Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO) consortium and the University of Texas Libraries have received a grant of $348,359 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to enhance their efforts to provide researchers worldwide with access to collection descriptions of archival primary sources in libraries, archives and museums across Texas.

This grant builds on a 2015 NEH Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Foundations Grant which enabled planning in key areas including shared best practices, training documentation and outreach to current and potential members and users. Grant activities will include a redesign of the TARO web platform to improve functionality and appearance, a review of Encoded Archival Description (EAD3) encoding standards, work towards standardizing existing control access terms (geographic names and subject headings) and training to support participation for TARO members.

TARO was first supported by a research grant from the Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund (TIF) Board of the State of Texas in 1999. The University of Texas Libraries (UT Libraries) served as the requesting institution, with project partners including the Texas Digital Library Alliance, Rice University, Texas A&M University, Texas State Library and Archives, Texas Tech University, University of Houston and the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. With these grant funds, UT Libraries established the TARO website, outsourced encoding of several hundred finding aids and provided training to member repositories. Repositories began contributing their own hand-coded finding aids in 2002. UT Libraries continued to support TARO after that initial grant. In June 2018 TARO formalized its institutional home as a program of the UT Libraries and a permanent MOU was signed.

“Having the State Archives’ finding aids available online in TARO, a consortial environment, where there are many shared and related topics among the materials held by member repositories, provides untold opportunities for discovery of our unique resources,” said Jelain Chubb, Texas state archivist and director of the Archives and Information Services Division at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

The grant will fund work through April 2022 and will be administered through the University of Texas Libraries. Libraries’ Director of Digital Strategies Aaron Choate will serve as the grant’s principal investigator. Members of the TARO Steering Committee and its subcommittees will carry out work as outlined in the grant.

“As a founding partner in TARO, UT Libraries has been proud to support the project over the years and we are excited to have the opportunity to work with the team to enhance the future of this vital collective project,” said Aaron Choate, Director of Digital Strategies at The University of Texas Libraries.

NEH Logo.

– – – –

Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO), a program of the University of Texas Libraries, is a consortial initiative that facilitates access to archival resources from member archives, libraries, and museums across Texas to inform, enrich, and empower researchers all over the world.

 

ABOUT THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this article, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

 

 

The Unseen Library: Technology

As we’ve spent the last several months gathering information and feedback from the campus community regarding the future of the University of Texas Libraries, more than once we’ve encountered the response, “I wasn’t aware the Libraries did that.”

Too often, the support that libraries provide to users goes unnoticed. Much like electricity or running water, the services and resources that backstop the central work of research and learning at the university don’t get much attention unless something prevents them from being available. Students routinely assume that the Libraries’ website just leads them to other websites that have the articles they need. Researchers who access journals directly from web searches in their offices can’t understand why going to those same links when they’re off campus generates a page requesting payment for a resource. Users rarely conceive how a book requested through interlibrary service can arrive in their hands from points across the globe in a few short days.

Libraries tend not to focus much attention on blowing their respective horns. Mostly they’re too busy bootstrapping the work they’re expected to do. But they’re also doing the unexpected, especially in areas of need associated with reliance on modern technology. So let’s take a look at how the Libraries Information Technology (LIT) team spends their time when they’re not keeping a website that serves 10 million people a year running or managing the hundreds of computers and providing support for the untold volume of hardware and software required by a top-tier academic library.

Dan Rather - American Journalist. Website from the Briscoe Center.

The Libraries has discernible connections to complementary organizations on campus like the Harry Ransom Center and the Briscoe Center for American History; the historical ties to these collections are long-standing, and the Libraries is an ever-present supplementary resource for researchers at those campus gems. But our LIT team also provides the technical backend support for the HRC and Briscoe Center that allows them to focus efforts and resources on more essential work. They administer the Ransom Center’s staff portal that provides support for the professionals that care for the center’s world-class collections. And our team have helped to build and manage several sites that provide web access to the Briscoe Center’s high profile collections, including the archives of journalist Dan Rather and former Texas Governor Bill Clements and provide the digital versions of the center’s Sanborn Fire Maps collection.

Global Middle Ages Project website.

LIT also plays a central role in developing digital scholarship tools with researchers and faculty from across campus, but especially heavily in the area of digital humanities. For more than 10 years, the Libraries has worked in the creation and management of Voces, a Latino/a experience oral history site developed by Dr. Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez of the Moody School of Communications; Voces celebrated a relaunch of their enhanced website last year. The Libraries worked with associate professor of English and comparative literature Geraldine Heng to build a web portal for to the digital resources collected through the Global Middle Ages Project for collaboration among scholars to weave together independent work into a cohesive resource. LIT has also worked with Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services (LAITS) to support the digital efforts of the Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America (AILLA), which will include resultant work from an NEH grant AILLA received last year.

Voces website.

Libraries’ technology expertise is also deployed in service of academic units around campus in support of learning and research on campus, by helping to provide access to departmental-specific digital collections. Faculty in the College of Fine Arts (COFA) relies heavily upon the Fine Arts Library’s digital image collections for teaching, and staff in the library coordinate with LIT to make those resources available through the portal to the Visual Resources Collection.

Source: Colección Conflicto Armado del Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen
Source: Colección Conflicto Armado del Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen. Available in LADI.

The support our LIT staff provides extends far afield of campus, too. Significant global partnerships — especially those connected to efforts at the Benson Latin American Collections — have been reliant on core contributions from the Libraries. Initial work developing a landing site (Kigali Memorial Centre) for the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where digital records of the survivor testimonies reside, were handled by Libraries’ IT staff in coordination with Benson archivists and KMC staff. The Libraries’ also provided the resources for the construction of Primeros Libros, an international effort by collecting institutions to digitize the first books published in the Americas. One of the most notable and controversial projects endeavored by the Libraries was to help facilitate the digital preservation of the Guatemalan Police Archive (AHPN), a cache of over 10 million documents that provides evidence of human rights violations in the Central American country between 1960-1996; LIT has helped to build, maintain and enhance the web resources of this project since its inception, ensuring that this important record won’t be lost to sociopolitical transitions in the region. More recently, staff from LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections and the LIT team have been building upon a project — initially funded from a 2014 Mellon grant award — that takes a more comprehensive approach to preserving the culture and history of Latin America. The Latin American Digital Initiatives (LADI) repository represents multiple collections shared through the practice of post-custodial archiving to catalog digital resources provided by our southern neighbors.

Francisco Bravo’s "Opera Medicinalia" (1570).
Francisco Bravo’s “Opera Medicinalia” (1570). Available at Primeros Libros.

Beyond their hands-on expertise, Libraries’ technology professionals have accepted roles on various committees across campus to help guide university policies in technology and digitization, currently holding seats on the Central IT Executive Commission and Identity & Access Management Committee. Our staff are not just regarded for their excellence in libraries, they are recognized as leaders in the field.

The stereotype still prevails at times, but it’s worth reinforcing: the library is not simply a book storehouse. It is an active participant in the digital environment, and essential – though much of the time, behind the curtain  – to the successful work of others.

Though the lights will on occasion go off, and the water may cease to flow, our committed experts doing their best to make sure that on normal days, things are working better than they should and library users are none the wiser.