Category Archives: Strategy

Contributing to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Beyond Barriers.

In 1928, the city of Austin adopted a plan contracted by a Dallas urban planning firm that effectively segregated the city’s African American and white populations.

Nearly ninety years later, the effects of that decision were still being experienced by minority populations in the city as evidenced in a study by the University of Toronto that showed Austin-Round Rock as the most economically segregated large metro area in the country.

Last November, Austin Mayor Steve Adler announced the formation of a task force that would try to address facets of a community-wide problem by assessing the effects of institutional racism on issues of equity in the city. The resulting committee of business and civic leaders, community activists, educators and law enforcement officials was charged with developing an action plan to address institutional racism and issues of economic and racial disparity across the city’s demographic and geographic landscape to provide city leaders a framework to systematize solutions.

The university itself has recently experienced sometimes newsworthy incidents of bias and intolerance that have encouraged calls from the community to address inequality and privilege on campus. Administrators have responded with both assurances and new policies intended to engender an environment of inclusivity and tolerance across a diverse, global population.

Libraries have traditionally served as a sanctuary from dogmatic attitudes where a currency of knowledge provides a bridge for reasoned debate and discussion on opposing viewpoints. How then can institutions where the rational exchange of ideas is a norm apply its experience to influence or contribute to a larger dialogue on issues of diversity, equality and inclusivity?

Austin Mayor Steve Adler will join UT Libraries Director Lorraine Haricombe along with UT Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement Gregory Vincent, AISD Board of Trustees Paul Saldaña, and American Library Association President and Austin Community College Library Services Dean Julie Todaro, for a broad-ranging discussion on the impact of inequality in local communities and how core institutions of government and education can work together to implement solutions to create a better society for all. Topics will include:

  • The unique relationship between the university and city of Austin, and how that relationship influences concepts of equality in the area.
  • The respective roles of the university and libraries in fostering inclusivity across the shifting demographics of a city experiencing a period of substantial growth.
  • How K-12 education can overlap with institutions of higher education to create opportunities for underserved populations.
  • Efforts to promote information literacy as a means to combat cultural/social misperceptions.
  • Ways of addressing institutionalized racism in civic and educational systems.

The event — “Beyond Barriers: The Community’s Role in Sustaining Diversity” — takes place Thursday, April 27, at 6:30 p.m. at the Perry-Castañeda Library, and is free and open to the public.

 

 

Sustainability in the Library

The Tree of Knowledge.

What sounds better than saving money, adopting healthier habits, and conserving the Earth’s natural resources for future generations to enjoy and benefit from? The idea of sustainability is defined by the University’s Office of Sustainability as “societal efforts that meet the needs of present users without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs”. It is an idea that is rapidly becoming mainstream. The University took a lead in the area of sustainability six years ago when it created the Office of Sustainability. The Texas Legislature showed its commitment to campus efforts in 2011 by authorizing a new student fee called the Green Fee. In 2015 UT Libraries is showing its leadership on campus by becoming one of the partners in the pilot project of a new student run program called Green Offices.

Even before the creation of this new program UT Libraries actively embraced green principles by making it standard procedure to do such things as responsibly recycle printer cartridges and send its used furniture, computer, and electronic equipment to University Surplus for reuse. And this isn’t the first time the UT Libraries has demonstrated its commitment to responsible use of resources. Several years ago UT Libraries staff formed their own “Green Team” to run an in-house recycling program. The Team provided containers in the Perry-Castañeda Library for various types of recyclable materials; collecting those materials themselves on a twice weekly basis, and coordinating with University Facilities to pick up the recyclables and deliver them to a recycling center.

Grainy image of PCL Green Team members in the wild, 2010.

The Green Offices program aims to up the ante by providing departments and units on campus a means by which they can measure how green they already are and shows them how they can become even greener. UT student Chantelle Baretto (Plan II, International and Global Studies) came up with the idea and two other UT students, Juhi Amodwala (Management of Information Systems, McCombs School of Business) and Hannah Bevers (Government), created the survey and act as the current coordinators of the Green Offices program.

So of course Libraries staff were eager to get involved. InterLibrary Services and Fine Arts Libraries Circulation both volunteered their areas to be involved in the pilot part of the program hoping to encourage other areas of campus to get involved when the full program rolls out in February 2016. The UT Libraries has always been committed to meeting the information and research needs of the University’s students and faculty, but it also acts as an active supporter of student leadership helping to advance and promote ideas embraced by the rising generation of young people who will become the leaders of tomorrow.

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.

Innovating Change at BLAC

Dr. Charles Hale

The University of Texas Libraries and the College of Liberal Arts are today announcing the launch of an innovative joint endeavor to align the physical and intellectual resources of the Benson Latin American Collection (BLAC) and the Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies (LLILAS) in a 3-year pilot venture.

Under the program, Dr. Charles Hale will assume sole directorship of both institutions with the objective of integrating staff and programs towards goals common to both.

In taking this approach to administering two of the University’s most notable institutions in the field of Latin American studies, the principals are creating a fiscal efficiency at the executive level, while at the same time discovering a way to streamline programming and collections development through collaboration for the benefit of students, faculty, researchers and the public at large.

At a time when higher education is facing increasing scrutiny, we’re finding new ways to meet the challenges put to us.

You can find complete information on the partnership here.

 

Heath Talks Assessment in Austere Times

 

Before Dr. Fred Heath joined the University of Texas Libraries as Vice Provost and Director, he had spent several years at Texas A&M with a team of faculty and research professionals developing and honing an assessment tool called LibQUAL+™. With a certain degree of prescience, his earlier work has given the Libraries a leg up in dealing with the economic downturn.

Dr. Heath took some time to discuss his experience and perspective on the vital role of assessment in building a library.

So, why do assessment?

Fred Heath: I think this pressure for accountability has always been part of the public sector where it’s really hard to measure bottom lines. If you’re going to succeed in advancing your program then you are going to have to have some structure that relates investments to outcomes, and there aren’t many tools to measure our “profits and losses” in the public sector. For several years we’d been searching and we found a tool called SERVQUAL that was used with great success in the private sector, and we also had a great relationship with the developers of that tool. We started noodling there, and it grew.

There were three young professors in the College of Business at Texas A&M – assistant professors at the time they started developing SERVQUAL – who needed a research protocol, and grew it into, perhaps, the most significant user satisfaction survey in that sector. It applied to everything from aircraft companies, to insurance, to restaurants. And one day we visited with the professor who was still there – the other two are now employed elsewhere around the world in higher education – and asked, “Do you think we can redirect SERVQUAL to the not-for-profit sector, specifically to education, and then even more specifically to libraries?” And we were really cautious, because it was a shameless emulation of what those three researchers were trying to do, but he was hugely supportive, open to the idea, and, in fact, all three of those developers have lent time to us over and again to help us build the tool that LibQUAL+™ became. Without them, without that beginning, I doubt we would’ve had the perspective and background ever to get it launched.

How important was it for the development of LibQUAL+™ to have faculty members as part of the development team?

FH: We could never have done this without the methodologists and the economists and the statisticians that we had on our side. And we, ourselves, were faculty in our own specialties, but not those skill sets. It was bringing all of those tools, all of that commitment, an emerging awareness of survey protocols in a nascent Web environment…we’d had no clue how we’d plan to do this on paper, and one of the methodologists said, “You know, I think we can do this on the Web pretty soon.” So, it took a village to build it; it took many different types of faculty to make it happen. Continue reading Heath Talks Assessment in Austere Times