Category Archives: Libraries

In the Land of Peace and Quiet

Susan Ardis is Head Librarian of the McKinney Engineering Library.

I recently had the amazing opportunity to visit two technical libraries in Hanoi one at Hanoi University of Technology (HUT) and the other at Vietnam National University (VNU)-Hanoi not to be confused with the largest university in Vietnam with the same name in Ho Chi Minh City.  Both universities have over 30k students. My visit was in conjunction with an outside consulting project where  I’m the library representative on a team charged with planning for a new technical university to be built 60 kilometers outside of Hanoi.

Hanoi is an enormous city with an estimated population of over 6.5 million and I think I may have seen nearly half of them.   It was the rainy session so if you think about what Houston would be like on serious steroids then you’d have a sense of the temperature and the humidity. I was told how lucky we were since it didn’t rain much (only 20 minutes one day) during our visit. But it was kind of weepy at times.

Sadly there wasn’t much time to be a tourist but I did see and learn a number of things. Cars and motor bikes are everywhere and only cars need to follow road signs such as the one way sign and no driving on the sidewalks.  How do I know? Our driver got a ticket for driving down the wrong way on a one-way street. The motorbikes did not. We saw cars of all types from BMWs to Daewoos to Cadillac Escalades to Fords.  I was surprised to be driven around town in new Ford Explorer. Probably the most interesting aspect of transportation was to see a guy with two front doors tied on to his motorbike just zipping down the street.

All these two-stroke engines means the air is quite polluted so nearly everyone on a motor bike is wearing a face mask. I never saw anyone out of the probably 1m motorbikes not wearing a helmet so this must be an enforced law.  Hanoi is a city on the go, everyone is moving all the time and building are being build and remodeled all over town at an enormous pace. Everyone has a cell phone and everyone is calling all the time even during meetings with what we were told were “high officials.” Continue reading In the Land of Peace and Quiet

Benson a la Mexicana

When I first walked into the Benson Latin American Collection to do research during my graduate studies, I did not imagine that four years later my boss would ask me to travel to Mexico City to represent the Benson and University of Texas Libraries at an awards ceremony with the mayor of Mexico City and a luncheon hosted by the Libraries for Texas Exes in Mexico. And now, it has been a week since arriving back from Mexico City and I still cannot believe I did it. And I have not really recuperated from the journey. Oh, believe me, it was a wonderful trip, just way too fast and cut way too short.

David Block receives the Medalla 1808 from Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard.

When Dr. David Block received electronic word (in an e-mail) of the Benson being awarded the Medalla 1808, I don’t know if we all realized immediately what an honor it was. Then after an exhaustive search online to make sure David had not just received an e-mail from Ed McMahon suggesting “you may be a millionaire”, we began to see the reality of and the potential in receiving such an honor. Historically, the medal is presented on behalf of Mexico City to persons for significant contributions to the study and development of Mexican history and culture. And now, the Benson has become the first foreign institutional recipient of the medal.  Wow… Of course we all knew the importance of the Benson, but now Mexico City Mayor, Marcelo Ebrard would present us with an international honor to reinforce what we all know to be true.

Our Vice Provost Dr. Fred Heath and Director for Development Gregory Perrin knew this would be a wonderful opportunity to invite our alumni from Mexico City, and the surrounding cities, to attend the ceremony. They decided it would also be quite advantageous to host a luncheon following. And this is where I came in. Part of the role I play in working for the Libraries is as an event coordinator. I love it because of the opportunities of excitement that abound, meeting new people and creating a delightful atmosphere for the libraries’ constituent; although, a first trip to the interior of Mexico and hosting a lunch would definitely be something extraordinary. Continue reading Benson a la Mexicana

Architecture and Planning Exhibit Celebrates Mexico 2010

In recognition of the dual celebration of the bicentennial of Mexico’s Independence and centenary of the Mexican Revolution – both occurring in 2010 – the Architecture and Planning Library at The University of Texas at Austin is hosting “Maya Architecture: Selections from the George F. and Geraldine Andrews Collection.”

The exhibition highlights materials from an exhaustive and fully documented visual record of architecture of the lowland Maya area that is part of the Library’s collection.

In the late 1950s, University of Oregon architecture professor George Andrews and his wife Geraldine visited the Yucatán for the first time, and for the next forty years they devoted their professional lives to the study and documentation of Maya architecture.

The couple’s extended research produced a remarkable collection that includes an architectural data bank representing 850 buildings at 240 archaeological sites in the lowland Maya area.

The Andrews Collection was donated to the university by the couple in 2000.

The exhibition captures a small portion of George and Geraldine Andrews’ effort to document and reconstruct the art and architecture of the ancient lowland Maya. Samples from the collection reveal aspects of Andrews’ scholarship, collecting and creative talents by featuring a selection of buildings, monuments, graffiti and the resulting work conducted in the archives.

Meghan Rubenstein, an art history Ph.D. student, assisted Donna Coates and Beth Dodd of the Alexander Architectural Archive in the curation of the Andrews exhibition.

The exhibit will be on display in the Architecture and Planning Library reading room in Battle Hall through September 2010.

For a first hand perspective on the production of the exhibit, head over to the Architecture & Planning Library’s blog, APLHighlights.

Fisher Gets Call for U.S. News “Best Colleges” Feature

utlibs_usnewsAs most parents of college-bound kids know, U.S. News and World Report‘s “America’s Best Colleges” issue is a standard read and good general tool for assessing colleges based on rankings in a range of categories. So when First-year Experience Librarian Cindy Fisher was called by one of the magazine’s reporters earlier this week to answer some questions about considering libraries in the process of choosing a college, she jumped at the opportunity to represent the University – and to show her chops, to boot.

The full article – “4 Reasons Why the Library Should Affect Your College Choice” – is available online.

Benson First Organization to Win Noted Award

Benson_logoThe Benson Latin American Collection just received notification that they have become the first institutional recipient of the Medalla 1808, an award presented on behalf of Mexico City to persons – and now institutions – for significant contributions to the study and development of Mexican history and culture.

The Benson joins a crowd of such renowned writers and historians as Carlos Fuentes, José Emilio Pacheco and Carlos Monsivais, and being amongst those names is surely a humbling experience.

Congratulations to the Benson for this much deserved acknowledgment.

More information can be found here.

New Biography on Retired Dean and McKinney Supporter Gloyna

gloyna_book_coverThis biography, Reflections of a Soldier and Scholar, by Davis Ford is packed with Earnest Gloyna’s fascinating recollections of farming, public education and family life in the Texas Panhandle during the Depression as well as his experiences in WWII, in graduate school at Johns Hopkins, and, of course, his professional life as a consultant/businessman, professor and dean. Of particular interest is his early life in the Texas Panhandle picking cotton, cutting milo, going to rural schools, learning to type and meeting his future wife, Agnes. Two of these would be helpful in his later life—typing and Agnes.

The story of how he chose graduate school over working for the U.S. Public Health Service after the war is classic Earnest. He decided to go to graduate school instead of joining the Public Heath Service because they would only pay him as a Captain. This decision changed everything—Earnest went to graduate school and became Dr. Gloyna.

Earnest has had an amazing career as an educator and researcher, as a consultant working on environmental problems all over the world, and as a dean. Under his leadership the College of Engineering grew enormously and improved its graduate programs by hiring highly qualified faculty from all over the United States. This faculty would help make the Cockrell School a research powerhouse.  Another of his great accomplishments was when he helped the Engineering Library grow from a barely competent collection to one of the best in the US. Continue reading New Biography on Retired Dean and McKinney Supporter Gloyna

A Medium for Expression

whiteboardThe end of the school year can be a liberating time for much of the population of the university. Most students get an extended break from the rigors of learning, or they complete a successful college career and move on to the next phase of life. Faculty transition from honing lectures and grading papers to scholarly or research pursuits, or just take some time to recuperate from teaching consecutive semesters. And for staff it generally means shorter lines, less traffic and time to catch up on all the projects that went on the back burner during the school year.

This nascent liberation can sometimes spur creative bursts as there are the beginnings of a collective exhale across the campus. Being on the front lines as we are when the library becomes a strategic center for student end-of-year projects and finals, we sometimes get the opportunity to witness, or even document, this extraordinary behavior.

We recorded two such examples just last week. Continue reading A Medium for Expression

¡A Viva Voz! gets funky with Ocote Soul Sounds

Ocote Soul Sounds members Adrian Quesada (white shirt) and Marti
Ocote Soul Sounds members Adrian Quesada and Martin Perna. Photo courtesy Ocote Soul Sounds.

¡Baile!

The Benson Latin American Collection is going to be “coconut rock” central next Thursday (4/8) when Austin-born psychedelic Afro-Latin funk band Ocote Soul Sounds throw down the beats as part of the eighth annual ¡A Viva Voz!

Featuring the bandleaders of Grupo Fantasma and Antibalas – Adrian Quesada and Martin Perna, respectively – Ocote Soul Sounds has been described as “sounding like a sun kissed Brazilian soundtrack from the ’70s.”

¡A Viva Voz! kicks off  at 7pm with a lite reception and presentation by dj t-kay of KOOP 91.7 fm before the band starts to jam and those so inclined shake it up on the dance floor.

Continue reading ¡A Viva Voz! gets funky with Ocote Soul Sounds

Mexican History in 365 days

1910In case you weren’t aware, 2010 marks two major anniversaries in the history of Mexico – the bicentennial of Mexican Independence and the centennial of the Revolution – and in recognition of those milestones, a number of events will be taking place around the university and in the Austin community. The Libraries are particularly attuned to the celebrations due to our oversight of the preeminent Benson Latin American Collection, so we’ll be keeping tabs on the goings-on about town. We’ll also be part of the celebration with the launch of the Benson’s exhibition – Frente a Frente: The Mexican People in Independence and Revolution, 1810–1910 – early this summer.

You can find a fairly comprehensive list of the university offerings at the College of Liberal Arts Mexico 2010 site, and a Mexico 2010 Austin Organizing Committee headed by Chair Teresa Lozano Long and Co-Chairs Dr. Victoria Rodriguez & Dr. Hector Morales is coordinating the Austin community events. The Ransom Center’s exhibition “¡Viva! Mexico’s Independence” is already open to visitors, so make time for a visit. And this Thursday (March 25), a pair of events worth noting are taking place in town – Mexican writer Héctor Aguilar Camín will talk about the history of Mexican politics and journalist/novelist Ángeles Mastretta will participate in a Q&A after a screening of the movie based on her 1985 novel Arráncame la vida. Find out more about these events from our friends at ShelfLife@Texas.

Feliz Aniversario, México!