Category Archives: Features

Archive of Prominent Nicaraguan Writer and Political Figure Gioconda Belli Comes to Texas

AUSTIN, Texas—The Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection at The University of Texas at Austin has acquired the archive of prominent Nicaraguan writer and activist Gioconda Belli.

The acclaimed author of nine novels, a memoir, two volumes of essays, nine poetry collections and four children’s books, Belli is the recipient of several major literary prizes over her decades-long career, including the prestigious Casa de las Américas Prize for poetry (1978) and the Reina Sofía de Ibero-American Poetry Prize (2023).

Known for her feminist writing and erotic poetry, Belli has a broad international following, with works translated into at least 20 languages. The English translation of her memoir, The Country under My Skin, was a finalist for a Los Angeles Times book prize. 

A woman in her sixties with light brown wavy hair stands at a stone wall at a place where the wall separates. Her hands rest on the parts of the wall beside her on each side. She smiles at the camera. She is wearing a white long-sleeved shirt, black short-sleeved jacket and pants, and a bright red necklace made of two strands of large beads.
Gioconda Belli, photo by Daniel Mordzinski

Belli was among the leaders of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), which defeated the regime of Anastasio Somoza Debayle in the Nicaraguan Revolution of 1979, and she worked in support of the Sandinista government until 1993. Amid her increasingly vocal criticism of the Daniel Ortega–Rosario Murillo regime, Belli was forcibly expelled, stripped of her citizenship and declared a traitor to her country in February 2023 along with 93 other Nicaraguans. This is her second exile.

A faded newspaper page from La Prensa Literaria has the name Gioconda Belli at the top in large sans serif capital letters. The page contains various poems and other text. The legend "Poemas y prosemas" appears in large blue serif type in the middle of the page. Along the righthand side of the page there is a large black cartoon illustration of a Classic-age woman who holds a long sword in one hand and, aloft, the severed head of a man, blood dripping from it, in the other.
Newspaper clipping, “Poemas y prosemas,” published in La Prensa Literaria, 1970s. Benson Latin American Collection.

In celebration of her archive’s arrival at the Benson Collection, Belli will visit the campus of The University of Texas at Austin from March 19-22, 2024, for a series of events, including a public lecture.

Belli discussed her work, the contents of her archive and her decision to entrust it to the Benson in an interview with Benson director Melissa Guy. Read the interview in Spanish here or in English translation.

“As a longtime admirer of her literary work and her activism, I am honored that Gioconda has entrusted the Benson with her collection,” Guy said. “We look forward to engaging students and faculty with the archive, and to welcoming Nicaragua’s greatest living poet to Austin in the near future.”


For more information: Susanna Sharpe, Communications Coordinator, LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections.

Highlighting Diverse Collections: Hispanic Heritage Month 2023

Hispanic Heritage Month is observed September 15 through October 15 and celebrates Hispanic Americans’ contributions to our nation and society. Before this observation comes to a close, let’s look at some poets who have enriched America with collections accessible at UT Libraries.


The Carrying: Poems

https://search.lib.utexas.edu/permalink/01UTAU_INST/be14ds/alma991047777739706011

From (the first Latina) US Poet Laureate, Ada Limon, comes a collection of poetry that won the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award. “Vulnerable, tender, acute, these are serious poems, brave poems, exploring with honesty the ambiguous moment between the rapture of youth and the grace of acceptance.”

Slow Lightning: Poems

https://search.lib.utexas.edu/permalink/01UTAU_INST/be14ds/alma991034096259706011

The first Latino Yale Series of Younger Poets award winner, Eduardo C Corral seamlessly braids English and Spanish and hurtles across literary and linguistic borders toward a lyricism that slows down experience. He employs a range of forms and phrasing, bringing the vivid particulars of his experiences as a Chicano and gay man to the page.

Loose Woman: Poems

https://search.lib.utexas.edu/permalink/01UTAU_INST/9e1640/alma991006576279706011

Sandra Cisneros is the bestselling author of The House on Mango Street and winner of the 2019 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature. A candid, sexy and wonderfully mood-strewn collection of poetry that celebrates the female aspects of love, from the reflective to the overtly erotic.

Every Day We Get More Illegal

https://search.lib.utexas.edu/permalink/01UTAU_INST/be14ds/alma991058175747406011

In this collection of poems, written during and immediately after two years on the road as United States Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera reports back on his travels through contemporary America with the multiple powers of the many voices and many textures of every day in America.

Postcolonial Love Poem

https://search.lib.utexas.edu/permalink/01UTAU_INST/9e1640/alma991058037948506011

Written by the first Latina to win a Pulitzer Prize in poetry, Postcolonial Love Poem is an anthem of desire against erasure. Through these poems, the wounds inflicted by America onto an indigenous people are allowed to bloom pleasure and tenderness.

Unaccompanied

https://search.lib.utexas.edu/permalink/01UTAU_INST/9e1640/alma991045914909706011

Calling into question the concept of the American Dream, Javier Zamora reimagines home, fusing music and memory to address the quandaries that tear families apart and—if we’re lucky—inspire the building of lives anew in this debut poetry collection.

The Woman I Kept to Myself

https://search.lib.utexas.edu/permalink/01UTAU_INST/9e1640/alma991057019529706011

works of award-winning poet and novelist Julia Alvarez are rich with the language and influences of two cultures: the Dominican Republic of her childhood and the America of her youth and adulthood. They have shaped her writing just as they have shaped her life.

Visit the Highlighting Diverse Collections LibGuide.

Read, Hot and Digitized: Katherine Dunham and the Data of Dance

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


How does a dance move? Where might a dancer go? Such questions most likely evoke images of choreography, references to physical steps performed or patterns made across the floor. But dance scholars Kate Elswit and Harmony Bench are tracking movement from a different perspective, following the touring and travel routes of groundbreaking choreographer Katherine Dunham and her dance company from 1930-1960. Their project, Dunham’s Data: Katherine Dunham and Digital Methods for Dance Historical Inquiry, funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, documents not only Dunham’s own itineraries, but also accounts for “the over 300 dancers, drummers, and singers who appeared with her; and the shifting configurations of the nearly 300 repertory entities they performed.”

The Katherine Dunham Dance Company was the first African American modern dance company, touring extensively both internationally and across the United States, often disrupting the imposed structures of racial segregation. Dunham was also an anthropologist, author, and social activist, challenging the limited roles and opportunities available to Black women artists.

Dunham’s Data features three core datasets paired with both interactive and static visualizations and contextualized through accompanying essays and related media. Taken together, the materials “provide new means to understand the relationships between thousands of locations, and hundreds of performers and pieces across decades of Dunham’s performing career, and ultimately elaborate how movement moves across bodies and geographies.”

The Everyday Itinerary Dataset spans the years 1947-1960, logging Dunham’s daily whereabouts during a period of consistent international touring, including accommodations, modes of transport, and venues visited. Users can access and mobilize this dataset through an Interactive Timeline of Travel, tracing the global and durational scope of Dunham’s artistic reach. There is also a Well-being Timeline Collage, which I am particularly drawn to, that sequences clippings from personal correspondence, evidencing the emotional labor that undergirded Dunham’s career.

Interactive Timeline of Katherine Dunham’s Travel 1947-60, from Dunham’s Data
Interactive Timeline of Katherine Dunham’s Travel 1947-60, from Dunham’s Data

The Personnel Check-In Dataset encompasses the “comings and goings” of company members over time. The visualizations derived from this dataset, for example, the Interactive Chord Diagram, illustrate “who shared space and time together,” offering “a sense of the transmission of embodied knowledge across hundreds of performers.”

Interactive Chord Diagram of Katherine Dunham’s Dancers, Drummers, and Singers, 1947-60, from Dunham’s Data
Interactive Chord Diagram of Katherine Dunham’s Dancers, Drummers, and Singers, 1947-60, from Dunham’s Data

I find the visualizations related to the Repertory Dataset to be especially compelling. The Interactive Inspiration Map depicts locations that Dunham identified as sites of inspiration for choreographic works, enlivened by quotations from her program notes; and The Interactive Network of Dunham Company Repertory highlights connections across pieces and performances. These visualizations prompt me to consider the citational and iterative dynamics of choreography and creative process.

Interactive Network of Dunham Company Repertory, from Dunham’s Data
Interactive Network of Dunham Company Repertory, from Dunham’s Data

Elswit and Bench, along with a team of postdoctoral research assistants, manually curated the datasets from previously undigitized primary source materials held in seven different archives. User Guides explain the organization and decision-making processes behind each dataset, making clear that all data is inherently interpretive. Code and tutorials are available in Github repositories for a few of the visualizations, which were largely created by Antonio Jimenez Mavillard using Python and Javascript libraries and a range of other tools. Instructional resources and a preliminary Teaching Toolkit offer helpful ideas for engagement and entry points into what, for some audiences, might feel like dense material to dive into.

Overall, the project gives us a multi-faceted lens to explore how attention to moving bodies can expand and enrich historical inquiry.


Want to know more about Katherine Dunham? Check out these UT Libraries resources:

Dunham, Katherine., Vèvè A. Clark, and Sarah East. Johnson. Kaiso! : Writings by and About Katherine Dunham. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2005. Print.

 Dee Das, Joanna. Katherine Dunham : Dance and the African Diaspora. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2017. Print.

Dunham, Katherine, and Paul Bieschke. The HistoryMakers Video Oral History with Katherine Dunham. Chicago, Illinois: The HistoryMakers, 2016. Film.

Staff Highlighter: Erika Coronado

Today we meet Erika Coronado, who joined the Libraries in Februrary 2022 and spends her days landing content for our users and finding ways to stretch our budgets while doing so.


What made you decide to work in a library?

Erika Coronado: As someone who is an avid reader, I enjoy being surrounded by books. I love that working in libraries gives me access to thousands of books and many other valuable resources. I feel I work in paradise.

What’s your title, and what do you do for UTL?

EC: I am an Electronic Resources Coordinator and form part of the Content Management team. I am responsible for reviewing and negotiating the licenses of our e-resources, setting up library trials, collecting and maintaining usage statistics of e-resources, and assisting with some of the troubleshooting. I also help maintain the integrity of data within Alma.

What motivates you to wake up and go to work?

EC: I take great satisfaction in helping others and knowing that I can make a positive impact.

What are you most proud of in your job?

EC: The proudest moment for me is each time I realize I can save our library funds – either by negotiating quotes and getting a much lower cost, catching orders that can be canceled, or preventing purchases from happening either because we already own or have access to the resource.

What has been your best experience at the Libraries?

EC: The many good relationships I have developed during the time I have work for the Libraries. I work with such amazing and talented colleagues who are always willing to lend a hand. I am also grateful to work with a team that values and fosters learning, new ideas, and promotes growth.


What’s something most people don’t know about you?

EC: I spend a great deal of my time assembling jigsaw puzzles. I love all kinds, but especially the ones that challenge me!

Dogs or cats?

EC: I don’t have any pets, but I prefer dogs. I sometimes pet sit two dogs – a cute chubby Chihuahua (who is missing an eye) and a very friendly, energetic mutt.

Favorite book, movie or album?

EC: This is hard to answer, as I don’t have favorites. My favorite book genres are psychological thrillers, mystery, and crime novels. I love Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series. I also love books that keep me up at night. I am currently reading books by the author Alex North. I find his novels spooky and engrossing – his books are hard to put down.

Cook at home, or go out for dinner? What and/or where?

EC: I have bad eating habits as I tend to eat out most of the time. I usually prefer to explore food trucks over to restaurants, and since I like all kinds of cuisine, there are lots to choose from. One of my favorite places is Beirut Restaurant, a food truck that serves delicious Lebanese dishes.

What’s the future hold?

EC: Travel, read more, and continue learning!

READ HOT AND DIGITIZED: An atlas of redlining, “urban renewal,” and environmental racism.

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


Segregation By Design is a compelling personal project by Adam Paul Susaneck, an architect based in New York City. Through spatial analysis, demographic data, historical photos, and extensive research, Susaneck effectively illustrates “how the American city was methodically hollowed out based on race.” It offers an insightful perspective on an important issue that has shaped the country’s history and continues to impact its present. The project’s goal is threefold: to create a print “Atlas of Urban Renewal,” to create digital materials for local groups opposing ongoing freeway expansion, and to raise awareness through social media.

screenshot of the Chicago, Illinois page on Segregation By Design. The top says Chicago and the three images. One of an aerial photo with the highway highlighted yellow, it says Dan Ryan Expressway. Next to it is an image of two maps side by side with neighborhoods indicated, it says Freeway and Unban Renewal. The third in the row is a detail of two photographs of building with a pond in the foreground for 1938 and part of an photograph of an empty lot where the building stood in 2022.
Screenshot of the Chicago, Illinois page on Segregation By Design.

The website offers a preview of what the print atlas will look like. 180 municipalities that received federal funding from the 1956 Federal Highway Act have been analyzed, and so far, there are 14 cities profiled. Each city has multiple sections, such as “Freeways & Urban Renewal,” “Redlining,” and “Transit.” Focus is given to specific highways, neighborhoods, environmental impacts, or buildings.

For example, the “Chicago: Dan Ryan Expressway (I-90)” section includes an animated swipe map juxtaposing aerial photos from 1938 and 1984 illustrating the “path of destruction” and displacement when the I-90 highway was built in the 1960s. It explains that over 81,000 people, many of whom were BIPOC or recent immigrants, were displaced.

Still screenshot from a video juxtaposing black and white, aerial photographs of Chicago from 1938 and 1984. There is a yellow line over the 1984 image indicating freeways that were built between 1938 and 1984.
Video still from Chicago: Dan Ryan Expressway by Segregation By Design.

Likewise, the “Chicago: Bronzeville” section profiles a neighborhood decimated by “urban renewal.” Before and after photos of buildings are combined with Susaneck’s transposed line drawings of buildings over present-day photos, masterfully visualizing and mapping redlining of the area.

side by side comparison of a photo from 1938 and 2022. The 1938 photograph shows an apartment building with a pond in front and the 2022 image shows outline of the building over an empty field.

Redlining is a discriminatory practice that systematically denies services such as mortgages, insurance loans, and other financial services to specific area residents based on race or ethnicity.

A redlining map of Chicago with annotations explaining language used in the notes that were provided with the original map.
Redlining map of Chicago with selected comments from the redlinign notes from Segregation By Design.

Yet another section, “Chicago: Pekin Theater,” focuses on the first black-owned theater in the United States, which was appropriated by the city through eminent domain, a process that left large swaths of the neighborhood cleared for “urban renewal.” The lot has been vacant since 1940. 

Photograph of the inside of Pekin Theater from 1905. There is decorative red border around an image of a large room with a balcony. There's a marching band in the foreground and hundreds of spectators. Everyone is facing the camera.
Established in 1905, the Pekin Theater was the first Black-owned musical theater in the country from Segregation By Design.

The project’s second goal is to create digital materials for local groups opposing ongoing freeway expansion. Susaneck states, “As state governments continue to mindlessly widen freeways, community groups in cities across the country have formed in opposition. This project aims to support these groups by creating easily digestible graphics to spread awareness.” One such project is Stop TxDOT I-45 in Houston, Texas. Their mission is “to challenge the status quo of transportation policy and to fight for all people in Houston to be able to participate in the decisions that affect health, safety, and mobility in their communities.” Similarly, the “Houston: Flooding” section of Segregation By Design discusses the environmental impact of highways and urban sprawl and how nonwhite residents are disproportionately affected by natural disasters.

aerial photograph of Houston Texas with highway I-45 highlighted in yellow and proposed highway expansion highlighted in red. Annotations note the names of neighborhoods to be demolished and how many people will be displaced.
Houston, Texas, proposed I-45 expansion from Segregation By Design.

Susaneck is accomplishing his third project objective of raising awareness through social media. In fact, Segregation By Design first caught my eye with an Instagram post that highlighted a striking map of Atlanta followed by bird’s-eye images of highway construction clearance from 1956 to 1990. The caption is lengthy for Instagram but is engaging. Susaneck describes the images in it: “The first image shows the freeway right of way overlaid on the 1936 HOLC redlining map and a 1960 aerial photo. The subsequent images show the destruction wrought by freeway construction.” Susaneck then explains who was affected by the highway construction, gives the names of neighborhoods decimated, and expounds on the history of redlining. Instagram lends itself to the graphic nature of his work, the dynamic swipe maps (often used to illustrate before and after destructive events), then-and-now comparisons, and augmented photos highlighting the significance of buildings as well as homes and communities that have been demolished.

A 1960 aerial photo with a 1936 redlining map and freeway right of way overlayed, Segregation By Design.
A 1960 aerial photo with a 1936 redlining map and freeway right of way overlayed, Segregation By Design.

For readers not on Instagram who still want updates, you can sign up to receive new entries via email, including high-resolution images and maps. Supporters can contribute to this largely self-funded project through the subscription-based platform Patreon.

Segregation By Design uses engaging infographics and directness to help explain the complicated policies contributing to systemic racism in our country. It’s invaluable in making these issues more manageable and understandable. I look forward to adding the Atlas of Urban Renewal print version to the Perry-Castañeda Library (PCL) Map Collection.


Books highlighted on Segregation By Design:

Rothstein, Richard. The Color of Law: a Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2017.

McGhee, Heather. The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together. One World, 2021.

Seo, Sarah A. Policing the Open Road: How Cars Transformed American Freedom. Harvard University Press, 2019.

Fullilove, Mindy Thompson. Root Shock: How Tearing up City Neighborhoods Hurts America, and What We Can Do About It. New Village Press, 2016.

Connolly, N. D. B. A World More Concrete: Real Estate and the Remaking of Jim Crow South Florida. The University of Chicago Press, 2014.

Other suggested reading:

American Panorama: An Atlas of United States History – Susaneck cites this digital project from the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond throughout his works.

Red, Hot, and Digitized: New Website Maps Discriminatory Redlining Practices – an earlier Read, Hot, and Digitized post about Mapping Inequity from the American Panorama.

READ HOT AND DIGITIZED: I Know We Will Meet Again, Japanese Canadians’ Letters, 1942–1948

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

One day when I was familiarizing myself with the history of Japanese Canadians, I encountered this lovely, small online exhibition. It is built on 36 PDF files of digitized letters selected from the Joan Gillis fonds, housed at the University of British Columbia Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections. The exhibition, beautifully titled “I know we will meet again,” tells a dark and brutal episode in Japanese Canadian history from 1942 to 1948. 

The letters were written by young Japanese Canadians to Joan Gillis (1928–2019, more info on Gillis), a white teenage girl they shared elementary and middle school years with before being forcefully removed from their homes in British Columbia to various locations in interior Canada during WWII. Immediately after Pearl Harbor, the Canadian government seized fishing boats and confiscated cameras and shortwave radios owned by Japanese Canadians. In January 1942, the Canadian federal government passed an order to remove Japanese Canadians from coastal British Columbia. By March 1942, about 22,000 Japanese Canadians were dispersed to areas east of the Rocky Mountains and were not granted freedom until 1949. During their forced removal, the Canadian government also seized, confiscated, and sold Japanese Canadian properties left in BC, including lands, houses, farms, etc. 

The letters detail the harsh childhood and teenage years that Gillis’ Japanese Canadian friends had to endure. All the letters in this exhibition have been scanned, transcribed, annotated, and geo-coded, thereby making it easy to explore the letters’ content by author, theme, location, and time.

For example, when we choose to browse by subject, we are directed to a beautiful and effective visualization of the subjects discussed. 

Figure 1. Color-coded subject visualization

As a person with mild color vision deficiency, I have to commend the curators’ apparent thoughtfulness in making the spectrum easier to see. Click on the little colored circles, then the associated subject will be highlighted in each letter.

Likewise, one can open up a transcript and see every sentence’s annotated subject on the right. 

Figure 2. Annotated letter transcript.

Maps help users grasp the extent of the dispersal of the letter writers as each letter is encoded with coordinates. One can zoom in and out to see the physical distance between the letter writers. One suggestion I would have is to mark Gillis’ location as well, just to give viewers a sharper sense of how far they have been dispersed. 

Figure 3. An overview of the letters’ locations.

Figure 4. A zoomed-in and city-level view of the letters’ original locations.

The curators have enhanced the exhibition through suggested themes which include essays that reference snippets from the letters. These essays give historical contexts in which the letters were produced. For example, in the essay on “Communications,” the curators discuss how the correspondence between Gillis and her friends was censored by the Canadian authorities. Under “Labour,” one will find more information about sugar beets farming that many letter writers’ families “volunteered” to engage in, although the letters make clear this “volunteering” was the only option other than labor camps and the splitting up of families. 

Last but not least, I love the notes under “About the Collection.” The Land Acknowledgement is specific and lists all Indigenous lands that are mentioned in the collection. There is also a deep reflection of publicizing materials that were meant to be private and intimate. In particular, how the wartime censorship adds another layer of complexity to the nature of this correspondence. The curators’ own personal reflections communicated their own positionality towards the project and personal growth in a profound and touching way. 

The project is built with open-source tools. The content management tool, CollectionBuilder is a set of static web templates for online collections created and maintained by librarians at the University of Idaho. The transcriptions are prepared with Oral History as Data, also a static web tool based on Github Pages and Jekyll to analyze and visualize transcripts, also by the same group at the University of Idaho. 

I love the collection not only in the sense it teaches me about a dark episode in history effectively but also demonstrates how such a project can help each of us grow by reflecting on our own positions in relation to the history documented in the project. 

Yi Shan is East Asian Studies Librarian at the University of Texas Libraries.


Further reading

  1. UT Libraries Asian Americans Studies Guide
  2. Fonds RBSC-ARC-1786 – Joan Gillis fonds at UBC Rare Books and Special Collections, UBC Library. https://rbscarchives.library.ubc.ca/joan-gillis-fonds
  3. Matthew McRae, “Japanese Canadian internment and the struggle for redress,” Canadian Museum for Human Rights. https://tinyurl.com/2xzujnhr?t=1687387156.
  4. Maryka Omatsu. Bittersweet Passage: Redress and the Japanese Canadian Experience. Toronto : Between The Lines, 1992.
  5. Mona Oikawa. Cartographies of Violence: Japanese Canadian Women, Memory, and the Subjects of the Internment. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018.

Staff Highlighter: Kiana Fekette

Kiana Fekette came to the Libraries a couple of years ago and was recently named Head of Digitization. Learn a bit about this North Carolina transplant.


What’s your background, and how did you come to work at the Libraries?

It’s a very long, somewhat complicated story of how I got to UT Libraries! Academically, I have BA in Archaeology with a double major in History and an MA in Anthropology with a focus in archaeology. More broadly, I went to university knowing that I absolutely loved history and books but wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do until I happened into a student position within my university’s special collections library as a conservation lab assistant. I knew then I wanted to pursue book and paper conservation but several major life events got in the way and I found myself working for Internet Archive after getting my undergraduate degree. Several years and one master’s degree later, we moved to Austin to be closer to my husband’s family. I wanted to work in something to do with cultural heritage but didn’t have any one specific goal in mind which is how I ended up looking for different library and archive positions.

What’s your title, and talk a little bit about what you do?

As of very recently (May 24th) I am the Head of Digitization within the Digital Stewardship and Preservation unit. Prior to this, I was the Digital Reformatting Coordinator and I started in 2021. As I am still transitioning into my new role, the majority of my responsibilities have stayed the same. I coordinate and execute the digitization of collections materials which include audio-visual and book/paper items. Our unit works closely with library staff members and patrons to make our collections materials more widely accessible by offering them in a digital format. 

What motivates you to wake up and go to work?

 Knowing that so many people – both library staff and patrons – rely on the variety of resources produced by digitization. We’re not just taking high quality scans of items to keep on some random, inaccessible hard drive; our goal is to help others with the pursuit of knowledge and to ensure that these items are available for use across time and space.

What are you most proud of in your job?

Despite the small size of our unit, I am proud of the fact that we’re able to produce such a large quantity of archival-quality material for the library.

What has been your best experience at the Libraries?

 Any time the libraries staff is able to get together as a group is always such a fun time to meet new people and catch up with old friends. It’s always refreshing and reassuring to be in a space where you can truly feel the support for one another. 


What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I’ve moved around a lot – first as a military kid, then as a nomadic adult. I’ve lived in Oklahoma, all over central North Carolina, Washington state, Hawai’i, Massachusetts, Ireland, and now Texas. My family is originally from central Pennsylvania (if you can pronounce Schuylkill and Yuengling, or have ever been to Knoebels, please come and find me – I’m sure we have lots to talk about!).

Dogs or cats?

Both! (I have two cats and a dog at home)

Favorite book, movie or album?

Book: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Movie: The Princess Bride or Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Album: I don’t necessarily have a favorite album but my favorite musician is Andrew Bird

Cook at home, or go out for dinner? What and/or where?

I enjoy cooking but I also get very bored with food very easily so I’m always willing to go out to get something I wouldn’t otherwise cook. One of our favorite spots is Turnstile on Burnet Road. They’re both a coffee shop and a full-service bar with great breakfast tacos and truly incredible burgers.

What’s the future hold?

I have no clue, and I’m perfectly okay with that! I’m finally settling down in one spot for the first time in quite a while.

Read Hot and Digitized: Preserving the Outcasts with The Queer Zine Archive Project

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

Zines have long been a medium for weirdos, freaks, and outcasts on the margins, which means they’ve been a staple of queer expression. The Queer Zine Archive Project (QZAP) has been digitizing and preserving queer zines for twenty years

First of all, what are zines? Zines are DIY publications, usually staple-bound and made with printer paper. They’re cheap and easy to produce, and most zine makers give them away for free or sell them at low prices to recoup costs. This allows them to bypass mainstream publishers, so zines are often a medium for marginalized and radical voices. 

Zines developed out of Science Fiction fan culture in the 1930s. In the 1970s, the onset of photocopying technology coincided with the rise of punk music. Punk fans (who often overlapped with Sci-fi fans) latched onto zines as a way to write about their favorite bands, share stories, and build community. As such, zines have always been a venue for outsider expression and radical politics. In the 1990s, feminist and queer zine makers really took hold of the medium. Punk communities might have been made up of outcasts, but they weren’t immune to misogyny and homophobia. Women and LGBTQ punks experienced marginalization and discrimination within their scenes, and zines provided a much-needed space to voice these experiences and find other like-minded queers. 

So a project like QZAP is pretty revolutionary! This searchable database is run by a collective based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and it is and will remain free and open to use. QZAP’s goal is to create a “living history” so they continue to accept new submissions from contemporary queer zine makers. They hold a broad definition of “queer,” too, recognizing that identities and language change over time. Zine makers submit their physical zines to QZAP, and collective members, usually librarians, archivists, scholars, and graduate students, scan the zines and create the metadata. Like zines themselves, QZAP is a DIY enterprise!

QZAP’s homepage features a rotation of different zine covers. This featured zine is about the representation of Black Lesbians in the Lesbian Herstory Archives.

QZAP allows users to browse zines, which is one of my favorite ways to explore their collections. With so much interesting and obscure content, browsing QZAP’s collection is a fun, serendipitous experience. QZAP also has an Advanced Search option for users to find zines by author, place of publication, or year of publication. I’ve used QZAP when working with Women’s & Gender Studies classes so students can see a broad set of queer zines over time. While the website’s look and feel are pretty simple and the technology is a bit dated, students respond enthusiastically to the content. I think QZAP’s simple design and stable technology have made it a sustainable project, especially because it is run by a volunteer collective independent of a university or institution. 

Here’s a screenshot of a digitized zine and its metadata record in QZAP. I like that the metadata is so prominent next to the digital object.

One of my favorite things about QZAP is that it uses a specialized metadata schema just for zines called xZINECOREx, based on the more common DublinCore schema. Cataloging and describing zines are challenging. They often don’t have a title page with publication information. Sometimes no author or creator is listed, or the author goes by a pseudonym. Maybe they have a publication date, but often they do not.

A sample record using the xZINECOREx metadata schema.

Given these complexities, libraries and archives handle describing zines in all sorts of ways. The xZINECOREx schema provides a standard that can be used across institutions and by independent projects like QZAP. QZAP contributes metadata from its collection to the Zine Union Catalog, which aims to be a single place to search for zines across multiple libraries, archives, and independent collections. Because zines are ephemeral, this catalog is a great resource for scholars interested in the history of zines. 

A digital collection like QZAP is vital to preserving the history of these rare, hard-to-find publications, yet there remains great value in studying physical zines. The physical objects provide the reader with a unique, tactile experience. This is especially important for LGBTQ+ history, which is so often erased or hidden. Reading a personal, first-hand account from a queer punk in the 90s – from the actual paper zine that person made by hand – is visceral and powerful. It’s an experience hard to replicate in an online setting. If you find QZAP intriguing, I encourage you to stop by our Zine Collection on the 5th floor of the Fine Arts Library. Our collection has many queer zines, including many published in Texas, and dates back to the 1990s.  

Want to learn more about zines? Check out these resources:

Staff Highlighter: Lynn Bostwick

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!

Staff Highlighter: Kristin Walker

The UT Libraries is one of the largest global lenders in the world. How do those materials make it from here to there, there to here, then back again? Resource Delivery Librarian Kristin Walker knows. Let’s find out more about her work and her world.


What’s your title, and what do you do for the Libraries?

Kristin Walker: Head of Resource Delivery for Interlibrary Services. I manage the department that includes Interlibrary Loan, Get a Scan and Remote Delivery. We borrow and scan research materials for the UT Austin community. Our department fills in gaps within the UT Libraries’ collections and we are able to obtain almost everything for our users. We also ship books to graduate students and faculty that are in remote locations, provide scans for faculty to use in their course materials and we digitize UT Austin dissertations and theses.

What motivates you to wake up and go to work?

KW: I am motivated by knowing that so many UT Austin researchers depend on our department to supply them with the critical materials needed to complete their projects. It feels good to know that we can help them or make things easier in some small way.

What are you most proud of in your job?

KW: I am most proud when Interlibrary Services is mentioned as one of the most valuable services provided by the UT Libraries. 

ILS seems to be a bit of a quiet giant. How important is your department?

KW: Interlibrary loan is considered a critical library service to supplement library collections. No library owns every book or journal, so libraries share their collections with each other. A lot of what we do is behind the scenes, but it is all very necessary to the UT Austin community. It may seem like a mysterious process from the outside, but we use a mix of automation, research and a high level of staff training to make our work seamless to our users.

What has been your best experience at the Libraries?

KW: The best part of working at the Libraries is the people you interact with on a daily basis. My department interacts in some way with almost every other department in the Libraries and this has given me a wholistic insight as to how all of the parts work together.


What’s something most people don’t know about you?

KW: I love K-Dramas (Korean TV shows) and I’m learning Korean on Duolingo.

Dogs or cats?

KW: Cats! I currently have two black cats.

Favorite book, movie or album?

KW: Favorite Book: The Thought Gang by Tibor Fischer ISBN: 978-0684830797

Favorite Movie: Wings of Desire; Director Wim Wenders

Favorite Album: Aladdin Sane by David Bowie

Cook at home, or go out for dinner? What and/or where?

KW: I usually cook at home. I attempt a lot of Asian inspired recipes, but I also make simple soups and tray bakes.

What’s the future hold? 

KW: There is much more emphasis on digital collections, open access and accessibility as they apply to interlibrary loan and document delivery. Long term, I see copyright laws being revised and modernized to account for digital items.