Category Archives: Libraries

Scholar Takes an Intimate Look at Mexican Author María Luisa Puga

On February 15, LLILAS Benson celebrated the opening of the literary archive of Mexican author María Luisa Puga (1944–2004). This unusual archive is replete with the author’s voice and vision, consisting in large part of some 327 diaries that span the years 1972 through 2004. In honor of the occasion, Irma López of Western Michigan University delivered a lecture titled “Escritura y autofiguración el los diarios de María Luisa Puga.”

María Luisa Puga, undated. Benson Latin American Collection.
María Luisa Puga, undated. Benson Latin American Collection.

A novelist and short-story writer, Puga was the winner of numerous prestigious literary awards and highly esteemed by her peers, yet she largely eschewed the limelight. Her complex attitude about her identity as a writer is on display in the diaries, which Mexican Studies Librarian José Montelongo refers to as “a truly remarkable document of struggles both personal and artistic.” Puga’s diaries were donated to the Benson Latin American Collection by her sister, Patricia Puga, who attended the opening lecture and reception along with her husband, son, and other family members.

The author's sister, Patricia Puga, at the Benson Collection. Photo: Travis Willmann.
The author’s sister, Patricia Puga, at the Benson Collection. Photo: Travis Willmann.

Written in a beautiful hand, with occasional doodle-like illustrations, the notebooks contain the entire trajectory of Puga’s celebrated literary works and thus are of enormous research value. The pages also carry within them a poignant emotional charge: the author was someone for whom putting pen to paper was a vital activity in her art and thought, and her diaries are an almost visceral expression of her self.

Visiting scholar Irma López discusses the Puga diaries. Photo: Travis Willmann.
Visiting scholar Irma López discusses the Puga diaries. Photo: Travis Willmann.

If the collection of diaries itself is remarkable, the lecture by literary scholar Irma López was similarly compelling. She spoke with both erudition and affection about Puga, her writing, and the intimate access afforded by the diaries to a writer for whom self-examination was essential. López concluded her talk speaking directly to the members of the author’s family, reading to them from a tender diary passage by the late author. (López, a leading authority on Puga, is author of Historia, escritura e identidad: La novelística de María Luisa Puga.)

From María Luisa Puga Papers. Benson Latin American Collection.
From María Luisa Puga Papers. Benson Latin American Collection.

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During their visit, the Puga family was able to see five display cases containing select materials from the archive in the Benson’s main reading room. This exhibition, on display through April 2, 2018, and titled María Luisa Puga: A Life in Diaries, was curated by graduate research assistant Emma Whittington. Read José Montelongo’s Spanish-language article on Puga, “Una vida en 327 cuadernos.”

Why Austin’s new Central Library is a vision for the future

This commentary originally appeared in the Austin American-Statesman, Wednesday, December 06, 2017.

The Austin Public Library recently opened its spectacular facility with much fanfare to respond to a diversity of needs in the Austin community. Transformed from a traditional library filled with books and other sources of information including media, the new open design sets itself apart as a new standard to address user needs in the 21st century. The timing of the opening of the new Austin Pubic Library is a perfect opportunity to highlight the resurgence of the central role of libraries in their respective communities, whether public, academic or school libraries, as they rethink their relevance amidst fast-paced changes.

Opening of the Austin Central Library

In an information society like ours, libraries are critical to fill equity gaps in society by democratizing access to information, education, skills training and job placement. Simply put, the Austin Public Library epitomizes how libraries elsewhere can be improved to better serve their populations.

The strength of libraries is, after all, their relationship to their communities, whether public or academic. They are centers of learning, social gathering and creativity usually in central spaces, a premium in most communities and on university campuses. The Austin Public Library has not disappointed. In some respects, it is the library of the future and will meet a multitude of needs including shared learning spaces, the technology petting zoo, the innovation lounge, the children’s creative commons and the reading porches.

In a nutshell, libraries must rebrand themselves as technology-rich learning centers. The rapid rate of technological changes, coupled with new user expectations, have accelerated libraries’ transition from mediated services to unmediated services. From online catalogs, to self-checkout machines, to room reservations and laptop checkouts, users can now independently use and reserve library resources that extend well beyond books. And, the old rules don’t work in the new environment. For instance, food and drink, cafes and gift shops have become normal features in libraries.

Makerspace at the Austin Central Library.

Notwithstanding the difference in the primary communities they serve, different types of libraries have implemented changes that are consistent with new needs and expectations. At its opening, Austin Mayor Steve Adler described the Austin Public Library as the “cathedral of Austin.”

A national conference called “Re-think it: Libraries for a New Age” will soon bring together academic, public and K-12 librarians, administrators, technologists, architects, designers, furniture manufacturers and educators to the University of Texas. Together, they will collectively rethink the increasingly important role libraries play in the communities they serve.

Austin Central Library.

In some ways, rethinking libraries will mean collapsing old paradigms and sacrificing some of the nostalgia that we may have for paper and silence. If libraries are to realize a future potential, they’ll need to play a significantly more active role in creativity and productivity processes. The library is no longer a place to worship books; rather, a library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, is the delivery room for the birth of ideas.

Austin isn’t the first city in recent years to invest in new library construction. Structures in Seattle and Minneapolis are notable recent examples of significant public reinvestment in libraries as an integral part of the community. The 21st century offers a renaissance period for libraries and library professionals to imagine the possibilities for the future. The Austin Public Library exemplifies a pioneering model in Texas for other municipalities to position their libraries as instruments of social empowerment. The time is now.

 

 

 

Scholars Commons Pilot “Sneak Preview”

Attendees see conceptual slides for the future Scholars Commons.

The Libraries held a Kick-off event on September 16 to share design renderings of a new academic work space in the Perry-Castaneda Library called the Scholars Commons that will be piloted on entry level starting early next year.

My colleagues and I had the great opportunity to welcome attendees into an empty room behind yellow paper-covered windows to share a “before” glimpse of what the UT Libraries hopes will become a favorite place on campus for graduate students and scholars.

Scheduled to open in January 2016, this “third space” for serious study is a pilot project to test services and different types of spaces.

The Scholars Commons initiative is comprised of 3 main areas:

  • silent study space,
  • a Data Lab, and
  • a Graduate Landing Spot, with reservable media-equipped rooms, a lounge and a break room.

Design development for the space was informed by input from graduate student and faculty focus groups and a survey with over 1,200 respondents conducted last spring. Additional insights came from the Graduate Student Assembly (GSA), the Graduate Student Writing Group and Graduate Student Services within OGS. The design was created by Harmony Edwards-Canfield of E+MID (Edwards + Mulhausen Interior Design), also responsible for several successful recently completed PCL projects.

Situated opposite the new glass-walled Media Lab, in what was formerly the Periodicals Room and the adjacent office suites that housed the Research and Information Services department, the Scholars Commons is tangible, visible evidence of support for serious students and scholars.

The materials in that space were relocated elsewhere within PCL, and the staff relocated to a UT Libraries office suite in the new Learning Commons, next to the University Writing Center. As with space used to create the Learning Commons, the Scholars Commons project represents intentional repurposing of staff space for student use.

The office suite closest to the PCL lobby will host speech center services provided by the Sanger Learning Center and research consultations in media-equipped meeting rooms with UT Libraries librarians. When not reserved for consultations, the rooms will be available for group study use by students.

Subject specialist librarians, or liaison librarians, already work one-to-one or in small groups with students and faculty to advise on literature reviews, research paper resources, data needs and other aspects of the research process and lifecycle, including publishing. These refreshed rooms will expand existing consultation space.

The large room that once housed the current periodicals and reference materials will become silent study space. And the office suite in the back of that room will be a dedicated Graduate Landing Spot for group study and informal community building.

The Scholars Commons will also offer programming, including salon events with featured speakers, research presentations and exhibit space. In brief, the pilot focuses on real-life needs, real-world challenges, research and relationships.

Lorraine Haricombe with representatives of Graduate Studies.Kick-off participants enjoyed locally-sourced refreshments and live music by Maxwell’s Daemons, a celebratory nod to the soon-to-be-silent zone for scholarly endeavor.

Brianna Frey, an Architecture graduate student in attendance, expressed that the quality and amenities of a study area are important because productivity stems from the ability to focus. “Additionally, it is important, especially because my field has a lot of group work, to have collaborative spaces in study areas” Frey told the Daily Texan. The pilot will offer both options.

Monitor this blog and UT Libraries social media outlets for more details as the January reveal approaches.

Texas Exes Dallas Chapter Welcome Vice Provost

Vice Provost Lorraine Haricombe with Libraries' Advisory Council member Ken Capps.

Last week, the Texas Exes Dallas Chapter hosted a reception featuring Dr. Lorraine Haricombe, Vice Provost and Director of University of Texas Libraries.

Lorraine shared her highest priorities to:

  • Strengthen UT Libraries core mission to support UT’s mission of teaching, research and learning in new and creative ways.
  • Fill key positions to align with new roles for libraries in teaching, learning and in the digital environment and to expand collaborative partnerships on campus (and beyond) and re-purpose prime real estate in our libraries to meet the expectations of 21st century learners.
  • Position UT Libraries to help transform teaching, learning and research at the University through open access to ensure that the ground breaking research conducted at our University will reach beyond the Forty Acres, nationally and globally.

She also expressed her excitement as UT Libraries is set to open 20,000 sq. ft. of repurposed space in the Perry-Castañeda Library, our main library, where we will partner with the University Writing Center, the Sanger center and others to provide a rich and energizing learning experience for our students.

To close, Lorraine reminded everyone, “supporting the Libraries has the potential to touch the lives of every student, staff and faculty member to ensure that what starts here really does change the world.”

Looking forward, UT Libraries plans to partner with Texas Exes Chapters across the country to host similar events that showcase the work being done at UT. If you are interested in hosting a similar event, please contact Gregory Perrin.

Thank You…

Thank you.We made it!

HornRaiser campaign to build the Fine Arts Library Recording Studio in numbers:

45 Days
8 matching gifts totaling $4,350
127 gifts
158% of our original goal
$15,895

We are very excited that this campaign not only exceeded our original goal of raising $10,000, but also exceeded our stretch-goal of raising $15,000.

We are very thankful for those who contributed and helped us broadcast our message throughout the campaign.

So what’s next?

A preliminary meeting has been scheduled to start brainstorming and planning for the actual construction of the Fine Arts Library Recording Studio. We hope to have everything ready for the fall 2015 semester.

As I have mentioned before, this project is a smaller piece of a larger project called the Creativity Commons. We are still fundraising for the other studios in the Creativity Commons:

  • Video Production Studio, $50,000
  • Game Developer Studio, $35,000
  • Maker Workshop, $25,000
  • 3D Design Workspace, $15,000
  • Recording Studio (funded!)

While these tools are available in other areas on campus, they are restricted to students or a certain major. The Creativity Commons will be fully accessible to all current UT students, faculty, and staff.

To give a gift to support the Creativity Commons, click here, or click here to read a previous post with more detailed funding opportunities for individuals or corporations.

Special thanks to our campus and community partners who supported us during our HornRaiser campaign to build the Fine Arts Library Recording Studio: Austin’s Pizza, Tom’s Tabooley, Waterloo Records, KUT, KMFA, Butler School of Music, and Hook ‘Em Arts.

Dr. Lorraine Haricombe Arrives as New Vice Provost

lorraine j. haricombe, Vice Provost and Director, University of Texas Libraries.
lorraine j. haricombe, Vice Provost and Director, University of Texas Libraries.

Born and raised in South Africa, Dr. Lorraine Haricombe joins the University of Texas Libraries as Vice Provost and Director from the Kansas University Libraries, where she served as Dean since 2006.

She previously held administrative positions in the libraries at Northern Illinois University and Peninsula Technikon in the Republic of South Africa, and holds doctoral and master’s degrees in library and information science from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. She also earned a teacher certification from the University of South Africa, an honors graduate degree in library and information science from the University of the Western Cape in South Africa and a bachelor’s degree in library and information science, psychology and sociology from the University of the Western Cape.

Haricombe holds memberships in the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries, the Library Administration and Management Association and the Association of American University Women. She is on the editorial board of Communicate, Journal of LIS (Nigeria), the editorial board of the Beta Phi Mu Monograph Series, the Service Quality Academy (LibQual+) selection committee and the 2006-07 ALA conference planning committee.

Highlights and Achievements

  • Daughter of a librarian.
  • Earned a master’s and a doctorate in Library and Information Science in only six years (1986-92).
  • As a single parent, successfully reared two accomplished daughters in the USA (Heidi who is a surgeon, and Gretchen, a teacher).
  • Inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame, University of Kansas, April 2012.
  • Association of Research Libraries, Leadership Career Development Program; mentoring junior librarians from underrepresented populations, 2007-present.
  • Provost’s designate for implementing the Open Access policy at KU, 2010-present. KU was the first public university in the USA where faculty adopted an institutional policy on open access.
  • Member, Executive Management Team, Research Libraries Consortium, South Africa 2011-2012.
  • President, Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA), 2011. GWLA is a consortium of more than 30 large academic and research libraries west of the Mississippi who share resources and expertise to facilitate meaningful collaboration in the western USA. KU is a founding member.
  • Inaugural member, Global Council, Online Computer Library Center, 2009-2011. OCLC connects people to knowledge through library cooperation among 72,000 libraries in 170 countries.
  • Member, Advisory Board, 2009-2012, and Chair, Steering Committee for the Scholarly Publications and Academic Resources Council, 2013-2015, Scholarly Publication and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC). SPARC is an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication.

A Bird in the Hand

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Over the summer, we had the good fortune of a particular inquiry that made its way to our Ask A Librarian service from a person looking for some answers that they deemed only a librarian might be able to provide.

That inquiry came from noted author and UT alum Sarah Bird, who while not penning her next novel, or writing a column for Texas Monthly, or contributing to any number of other publications, or even writing a screenplay…still has time to be a strong public voice for libraries in general, and the University of Texas Libraries specifically.

At the time, Bird was working on an article for Alcalde — the Texas Exes alumni publication — in which she was to detail the significance of the collections at UT to her work. She came to us looking for some examples to use in the article, and we did our best to assist with her needs.

It was a short time after the publication of that article — “My Life in the Stacks” — in the September/October issue of Alcalde that we were contacted by a producer from the Longhorn Network with a request to provide a spokesperson for the Libraries to be interviewed for a piece they were filming on Sarah Bird to take place in our very own Life Science Library. This was to be a segment on the recently launched LHN program “The Alcalde”…a half-hour television complement to the print publication.

As a result, the LHN expanded their segment on Sarah Bird to include the Libraries as a major component of the show.

It’s amazing what sort of impact a single happy patron can make.

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Escape to Book Mountain

Book Mountain in the Netherlands.

Though we often focus our thoughts and attention on the changing nature of libraries, it’s good to occasionally be reminded that our “storied” past is also part of the present.

Nearly ten years in the making, a new library recently opened outside of Rotterdam that is a monument to the book.

A pyramidal structure of wood, glass, stone and steel contains what may be the world’s largest bookcase, “Book Mountain” – a structure of staircases, pathways and terraces surrounded by some 50,000 books that spirals upward to a reading room and café at its peak.

And despite its remarkable design by Dutch architectural firm MVRDV, the building is more function than form, as it is set amongst a community of government housing complexes where the population has a 10% illiteracy rate.

See more photos here, and a report by the BBC, here.

Satisfaction

I guess we’re doing it right.

The President’s Task Force on Undergraduate Graduation Rates released its report yesterday, and amongst the recommendations, the Libraries found some happy news in an included student satisfaction survey:

According to the figure, students report the highest satisfaction levels with the university libraries. Indeed, for both of the library measures, about 95% of students report somewhat satisfied or better for these items.
Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) data (click on image to enlarge).

Now to work on that other 5%-7%….