Former Dean of the Jackson School of Geosciences Dr. Sharon Mosher announced in December the creation of a new endowment fund honoring longtime Geology Librarian Dennis Trombatore.
The Dennis Trombatore Excellence Fund for the Walter Geology Library was established with the support of alumnus Dr. Carlotta Chernoff (’92 BS, ’95 MA) in honor of Trombatore as additional funding for urgent needs at the discretion of the Jackson School of Geosciences (JSG) Dean with input from the librarian at the Walter Geology Library.
The endowment recognizes Trombatore’s
career at The University of Texas at Austin in building one of the great
geosciences collections in the nation, as well as his work supporting the
research, teaching and learning of those in pursuit of understanding of the
earth sciences at the university.
“He has carefully amassed invaluable
collections, developed state-of-the art services and built a sense of community
for the Jackson School family,” said Mosher. “Dennis Trombatore’s tireless
efforts have touched the lives of every student, research scientist, faculty,
and staff member who has had the pleasure of knowing him. The Jackson School
wouldn’t be what it is without Dennis’s commendable efforts, for which I am
Trombatore received his B.A. (’75) and MLS (’77) from Louisiana State University, and joined the University of Texas Libraries in 1985 after working in librarian positions at Loyola University and The University of Georgia at Athens. He has served as head librarian at the Walter Geology Library for over three decades, and has participated on numerous committees and at conferences in a variety of capacities. Trombatore has also been recognized for his ongoing contributions to the university, including with the Distinguished Service Award from the Department of Geological Sciences (1997), the University of Texas Staff Excellence Award (2001), the Jackson School of Geosciences Staff Excellence Award (2006), the William B. Heroy Award for Distinguished Service to the American Geosciences Institute (AGI, 2012) and the Jackson School of Geosciences Joseph C. Walter Jr. Excellence Award (2018). He is a member of GSA and the Geoscience Information Society, and is past president of the Austin Geological Society.
“Illuminating Explorations” – This series of digital exhibits is designed to promote and celebrate UT Libraries collections in small-scale form. The exhibits will highlight unique materials to elevate awareness of a broad range of content. “Illuminating Explorations” will be created and released over time, with the intent of encouraging use of featured and related items, both digital and analog, in support of new inquiries, discoveries, enjoyment and further exploration.
Chapbooks have a curious history. Some scholars argue that the term is a combination of “cheap books” and “chapmen.” (Chapmen were traveling salesmen who wandered England and Scotland with thin, paper-bound books throughout the early Modern era, circa 1500-1800.) The current iteration of the American poetry chapbook is a distinctly 20th century phenomenon, linked to the technological advances of photocopying, desktop publication, and the internet. The UT Poetry Center in the Perry-Castañeda Library includes local poetry chapbooks from the last 40 years. My new online exhibit presents features this collection, with chapbooks from different small presses operating in Austin.
These little books play a profound role in poetry communities because they allow authors to share their work with their readers and fellow writers cheaply and easily. Writers can bypass the elitism and bureaucracy of boutique presses and mainstream publishing companies by self-publishing chapbooks or working with small local presses. These books, then, come with small price tags. Writers often only recoup their production costs, and some give their chapbooks away for free.
of a literary gift economy has been alive in Austin since the 1970s. Many
outsiders might assume that Austin’s art and culture begins and ends with live
music, but Central Texas has a vibrant literary culture, built by dedicated
writers and small press editors. This exhibit features chapbooks from the late
70s and early 80s that showcase Austin’s counter-culture and feminist voices,
while contemporary examples represent the diversity of writers in this growing
city, especially those from marginalized backgrounds.
highlighting the presses, their editors, and, of course, the writers, I hope to
bring to life and document Austin’s literary community. Emmalea Russo and
Michael Newton, poets and small press editors, argue that chapbooks create “a
space for makers to come together and look at each other’s work. So much of the
value of poetry is the community that comes out of it—both in terms of
relationships and as a way to discover new ideas. It means everything.” I hope
that you will find these selections by Austin writers represent a community
where poetry does, indeed, mean everything.
Diana Gwen. “The Poetry Chapbook: Blessing or Curse?” International Journal of the Book 8, no. 3 (2011): 27.
Russo and Michael Newton on Ugly Duckling Presse.” Poetry Society of America, n.d.
In fall of 2018, the Libraries welcomed the first class of The Consuelo Artaza and Dr. Carlos Castañeda Diversity Alliance Residency Program who arrived for a 2-year term. Residents Laura Tadena and Natalie Hill spent the last year+ in rotations with various units for an immersive experience in librarianship, and though their terms haven’t yet expired, both earned the sort of attention that generated interest from other institutions wanting to lure them to professional opportunity. While we’re sad to see them leave, we’re extremely proud of the work they put in during their time at UT, and for the extensive contributions they made to what we do.
Hill and Tadena sat with me to reflect on their experience during their residencies, and to share their impressions of the program and the knowledge they gained.
Tex Libris: What is the
main value or biggest takeaway you have from participating in the program?
Laura Tadena: I
think for me it was learning about all the resources that we have access to or
that are available for the state, and really wanting to share that information
with others. Coming into this, I wasn’t familiar with the Texas State Library.
I also didn’t realize how many libraries are open and free to the public,
especially academic and college libraries. So, I think the most valuable thing
for me was learning that and really refining my information literacy skills.
Now I feel equipped to really find information in a way that I wasn’t before,
especially research and reference skills. I did chat, which was part of
learning UT’s system, and then we ended up doing a lot of presentations
together, which required a lot of research that recalled the knowledge I learned
in school and put it into practice in a professional setting. And seeing how
some of the other librarians in action, how they do their jobs, and being like,
“Wow…that’s how you get information.”
Natalie Hill: My
big takeaway is knowing how the library works at multiple levels, and how
information is communicated. Rotating between the different areas and being on
all of the listservs, even after I’ve left an area, has been really interesting
to see when people find things out about what’s going on. The experience has
really encouraged me to go into leadership, which isn’t something I had
strongly considered before. Now I want to do that.
TL: Do you feel like you
gained some confidence from your time here?
NH: For sure.
TL: That’s a huge
value, if you can walk into a place feeling like a visitor, and walk away
thinking, “I can do this.”
NH: I think
meeting directly with (Libraries’ Director) Lorraine Haricombe a few times was
really valuable, and having her provide encouragement…when she says you can
do something, you think, “Yeah, I can, if she thinks I can.” So it was a big confidence boost.
TL: You have both done a
lot of presentations in your time here, and that comes along with the
territory, being in the residency program, but not all of the presentations
were required as a component of your positions as resident; they were elective.
Was that interest in presenting something you brought to your work here, or was
it a byproduct of the confidence you’ve talked about gaining in your time at
NH: I think it
was after we got here. Presentations were what I was least looking forward to.
And now I’m like, “These are easy.”
LT: I think that
one of the things that kind of started it was when we had a window into the
hiring process, and saw what the CVs, resumés and cover letters looked like. We
realized that we needed to get that sort of activity into our CV to be able to
compete in the market. And so we put a bunch of submissions out thinking we
weren’t going to get accepted…
NH: We thought it
would be harder to get accepted…
LT: We also
recognized a higher value in presenting papers or being included in panels as
opposed to other forms of presentation.
TL: Did the experience
meet your expectations?
NH: I didn’t
fully know what I wanted to do when I started, but I felt it would have
something to do with open education. So being able to call myself the open
education librarian, and write my own job was great. So, in that way the
experience exceeded my expectations — especially with the development work
behind open education going on simultaneously, to see it becoming a real
strategic initiative within the organization and to be part of it as that was
LT: I think
coming into this, I initially thought I was going to be doing more outreach and
connecting with the student body, so learning how academic libraries work was
what exceeded my expectations. And the access we had to professional
development was incredible. We had opportunities to go to professional
conferences, and I got practice in applying for scholarships. I came in here
wanting to find ways to serve Texas, and I think I leave here now with a better
foundation for doing that.
NH: I think one
thing I didn’t expect was being known in the field. And I feel like now people
know us – probably as a pair, not necessarily as individuals – but, still
that’s bizarre. It’s kind of strange to be familiar to people in positions of
TL: This is a nascent
program that didn’t have a lot of predetermined direction when you came in, and
you’ve had a chance to steer it in a way.
LT: We didn’t
expect to start a Slack space for various diversity residents across the
country, but there are ACRL liaisons contacting us about the development of
that. We’re being brought on as mentors for other residents. So it’s rewarding
to be able to give back to the profession.
NH: Laura met
with the iSchool to try to set up presentation opportunities for students.
LT: I also met
with the dean of my alma mater who’s been recruiting me to teach there. I
didn’t realize that as library schools are moving more towards an information
science orientation, there is a shortage of public school librarians, resulting
in a shortage of people who can teach about school librarianship. Someone told
me – I think it was Portia (Vaughn, previous science liaison) – that every
opportunity should lead to another opportunity, and I’ve found that it does
tend to happen if you are open to talking with people and seeing if you can
meet each other’s needs and trying to think ahead.
TL: What was the benefit
of getting to work with professionals in librarianship?
NH: I worked with
Colleen Lyon (Head of Scholarly Communications) most of the time that I’ve been
here, and that’s been really beneficial because she really knows what she’s
LT: I think that working with Porcia (Vaughn, former Liaison Librarian for Biosciences) and Carolyn (Cunningham, Head of Teaching and Learning Engagement Team), they have a way of communicating with you and teaching you – the had a way of teaching you how to do things, including the decisions behind their methods; it was extremely helpful and not something that everyone naturally does. Carolyn was really helpful in navigating internal and institutional frameworks, and Porcia helped with the external opportunities, like connecting with other STEM librarians, introducing me to other networks to get involved in of which I was unaware. And through our residence space, we learned about what was happening at other libraries.
TL: What was something
you didn’t know about libraries before that you know now?
NH: I didn’t know
anything about instructional design, and now I’m going to be an instructional
designer. At the time we came in, job postings in the field suggested that
people were looking for assessment and instructional design experience, and I
was like, “I don’t really care about either of those things.” But,
working in open education, I realized that I was drifting away from
affordability arguments, and toward student engagement and being able to adapt
materials to better serve users, and those are really just instructional design
principles. So, open pedagogy is what I want to do now.
LT: I really
didn’t understand how academic libraries operated, big picture stuff. I think
one of the biggest things I learned was how we provide services to our
community. And what, as librarians, we’re able to do. I didn’t know that there
was a state library that did just professional development. And I didn’t know
about AMIGOS which does professional development support for all libraries.
That area of the profession is very interesting to me because of my instruction
background, and so I’m excited to be able to take that forward and support all
types of libraries.
NH: I don’t think
I knew about how professional associations work before this, and having the ARL
president here (Haricombe), I now know what the ARL does, which has been really
valuable, because you can see where broader initiatives start then trickle out
to the rest of field in succeeding years.
LT: And how
committees operate, because we’re getting practical experience.
TL: What advice would you
give to someone who was considering applying to a residency program like this?
NH: Know that the
program is for you, so if there’s not going to be a lot of flexibility or
freedom, maybe consider another option. I think that we’ve been really
fortunate here in that coming in as the first class of residents, it was pretty
unstructured, and people were pretty willing to say yes to ideas. We’ve seen
where other residency programs have a set job description and I don’t think
something like that would be anywhere near as valuable an experience.
LT: My suggestion
would be to connect with other residents — to learn about what they are doing
and use that to help support what you are doing or to create your own agency,
and advocate for your own benefit within the program. Because being part of it is
about learning, and I think we’ve seen a lot of residents in positions where
they don’t know they can ask for more, or they aren’t aware that they have some
control over their experience and what they gain from it. We’ve been fortunate
to have the opportunity – as long as it ties to our growth and development – to
help shape our own experience.
TL: What do you think can
be done to improve the experience for future residents?
LT: Cohort models
are nice. I don’t know that this program would have been as beneficial for us
if there was just one of us. It was a great experience to be able to have
someone to go to talk with about the shared experience, to have someone that
you’re constantly able to check in with. And, then again, to have someone available
to bounce ideas off of was helpful, especially since the program is a safe
space. Moving forward, I would recommend that there are at least two residents
at the same level, or at least in a cohort model that is closer together.
Having a buddy is good. And having great mentors.
NH: Maybe there
could be a refresher for staff on what the program intent is. Because it’s up
to the individual resident what interest within the organization they choose to
pursue, they could end up in any area, even one that may have not had previous
experience with a resident. We stayed in pretty public-facing academic
engagement roles, but maybe someone else would be really interested in
technical services. So just a reminder that it could go any way. And keeping
the door open so that residents can go anywhere within the library that appeals
to them, because that is what makes this program unique from other ones.
TL: What’s next for each
LT: I will be the
inclusive services consultant at the Texas State Library and Archives
Commission, and I’ll be working for the first year with public libraries,
helping to train staff and ensure that they have adequate resources to provide
inclusive services. My future supervisor has said that the hope is to expand
the role and potentially bring my work into both school and college/academic
libraries. I’m looking forward to the type of work that I’m going to do. It’s
another job that I don’t really know what I’m getting into, but I’m excited
because of the great things I’ve heard about the State Library. And I’ll be
NH: I will be an
instructional designer with the University of New England in Portland, Maine,
and I will be on a team of instructional designers within the College of
Graduate and Professional Studies, which is made of fully online graduate programs.
So, I will be working with faculty and subject matter experts to develop new
online courses and provide quality assurance and redesigns for existing courses.
I think that my specialty on the team will be promoting open educational
resources and moving those to the forefront in the course creation process.
LT: Outside of
our future roles, we’re also going to be working on a book chapter with (new diversity
resident) Adriana Casarez on the residency program, and we’ll be presenting at
TLA together, on a panel about residencies in Texas.
hopefully, the goal is to come up with an ACRL proposal so that we can do that
TL: Congratulations on be
the first class and being first class.
Ada Lovelace was a pioneering computer scientist
and mathematician of the 19th century. Since 2009, on the second Tuesday in
October individuals around the country and globe gather to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day by commemorating her life and raising the profile of women and
LGBTQ+ persons in the STEM fields. To honor her legacy, a group of librarians
at UT planned and facilitated a daylong Wikipedia Edit-a-thon scheduled for
October 8, 2019.
Beginning in earnest in mid-August, four
librarians including Gina Bastone, Roxanne Bogucka, Lydia Fletcher, and myself
sat together at a table in the Physics, Math and Astronomy Library to
brainstorm ideas and organize what would turn out to be an amazing experience
and very meaningful event. The event drew more than 45 participants from across
campus to learn about the Wikipedia editing process and get inaugural edits
under their belts.
To organize a successful Edit-a-thon event
requires considerable planning in addition to forethought and purpose. Some of
the initial goals were to improve the visibility of women in STEM fields, to
teach first-time editors the quirks of Wikipedia editing, and to democratize
the process of editing Wikipedia, which itself is largely contributed to by cis
white men. Creating an accessible and drop-in event where folks could learn
something, grab some food, and edit in between classes was also a priority.
Starting the research process, identifying useful Wikipedia-friendly sources on
top of creating content was a high order to meet in addition to orienting
participants to the editing process. Reflecting on our cumulative past
experience it was agreed that structuring the event to be largely self-guided
was the best approach. Recognizing that the average participant may spend about
an hour between classes at the Edit-a-thon, librarians identified pages that
required editing and organizing sources ahead of time, focusing specifically on
local women in STEM. We reached out to campus groups such as Women in Physics,
Gender & Sexuality Center, and CNS-Q, who proved helpful by
enthusiastically providing support in word of mouth and extra sustenance on the
day of the Edit-a-thon.
We organized the day through a system of Google Drive links and physical sticky notes to ensure that only one person would be editing one article at a time, while retaining the ability to have more than one contributor to each article on the day. Using this system of sticky notes to identify topics for editing, each person would grab a note with a unique scientist’s name off the board, hold on to it while editing that topic and then return it to the board if the entry still needed further edits. The Google Drive folder contained supporting material for our selected topics in addition to a wealth of curated training documents. Many of these training documents were reused and can be reused again in the future. These tools allowed us to plan and coordinate an event without having a required time for a formal demonstration.
The Edit-a-thon was wildly successful and drew
participation from many first-time editors in the College of Natural Sciences.
While the turnout was better than we had expected, the true success was in the
feedback. All of the respondents to our survey agreed that they had learned
about editing Wikipedia and the construction of articles at the event, and 87%
said that they plan to continue editing into the future. The goals of the
planning group had been met and exceeded, encouraging us to run further events
teaching the ins and outs of contributing to Wikipedia.
Being that he has a refined sense of both words and music, Whit seems like a good candidate for exploring and discovering some overlooked gems in the trove, and so in this occasional series, he’ll be presenting some of his noteworthy finds.
Brooklyn’s Parts & Labor droned and thrashed in somewhat obscurity for exactly one decade (2002-2012), but left behind an impressive slab of noise pop albums in the vein of early Hüsker Dü, or a more song-oriented Lightning Bolt. Stay Afraid pushes the faders all the way up with its scorched earth feedback and fuzz, its electronica squeal and hyper-manic drumming, but those sugar-sweet vocal hooks are still up there in the mix (somehow!) front and center.
Selvidge, the late great Mississippi Renaissance Man (songwriter/anthropologist/radio producer/record label owner), graciously bequeaths us this collection of Americana classics, with a couple of topnotch originals to boot. His protean vocals moan and yodel on country standards such as Long Black Veil and Swannanoa Tunnel, then growl and screech on old-time rocker Real Thing. Recorded in his adopted hometown of Memphis with gorgeous and understated production by the legendary Jim Dickinson, the songs drip with Delta sincerity, simultaneously breaking the heart while nurturing the lovesick soul.
Avant pop singer-songwriter Shara Nova (previously Worden) simply sparkles and shines as My Brightest Diamond. Utilizing her classical voice training from the University of North Texas, Nova served as guest/backup vocalist for the likes of Sufjan Steven, The Decemberists, Laurie Anderson, and David Byrne. But on her debut studio album, Bring Me The Workhorse, she combines these masterful vocals with a slightly skewed, shadowy songcraft that presents something uniquely her own. The etherealness of Kate Bush; the edginess of PJ Harvey. A Goth pop instant classic.
NYC pianist and McCoy Tyner acolyte Cary leads his Focus Trio (bassist David Ewell, drummer/percussionist Sameer Gupta) into jazz hinterlands on this mesmerizing concert recording. A droning intonation of Monk’s classic ‘Round Midnight starts things off, then the trio lets things unravel artfully with intense originals. Cary’s piano beseeches us to hear those notes between the notes while his rhythm section hard bops like a most welcome punch in the gut. Gupta’s classical Indian tabla is highlighted on KC Bismillah Khan, and audio of Malcolm X and Dr. King speeches weave their way in to the mix (Runnin’ Out of Time, and Slow Blues for MLK), adding a historical gravitas to what is already a truly heavy experience. Metaphysical, moving, and masterful.
The Soledad Brothers were White Stripes garage rock fellow travelers back in the day (guitarist Johnny Walker taught Jack White how to play slide, while White produced their debut album). Having said that, the Ohio natives became more Sticky Fingers than Seven Nation Army. Their third album, Voice of Treason, finds them not only stomping and hollering tried and true swaggering blues, but also mellowing out on tracks such as the sweet and soulful Muscle Shoals-inspired Only Flower In My Bed, or the acoustic Delta-tinged Sons of Dogs. Dig that warm analog tape sound captured by UK producer Liam Watson.
Traveling internationally to secure unique and distinctive
acquisitions for UT Libraries and to make essential academic connections for UT
Austin is one of the true joys of serving as Middle Eastern Studies Librarian.
In June of this year, I traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, for two weeks. I focused
on collecting Arabic titles published in Turkey and investigating study abroad
opportunities for graduate students in the Middle East and Islamic Studies programs
I had the pleasure of flying into the brand new Istanbul airport, located on the opposite side of the city from the stalwart Atatürk Airport that I knew so well. I arrived at the end of Ramadan, which meant that I got to enjoy Bayram (the Turkish name for the festival celebrating the end of Ramadan) sales. I stayed in the neighborhood of Kuzgüncuk, a small, religiously diverse section of the city on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, just before the first bridge. There were several local book and magazine sellers, as well as produce vendors. It was from one of the local produce vendors that I learned of a children’s bookfair happening on the Asian side of the city, and I made a plan to visit it in the coming days.
While in Istanbul, I was able to receive a title for which I
had been hunting in Egypt, Majallat al-Qaḍāʾ al-Sharʿī. There are only a
handful of copies of this title around the world; yet, it is a crucial source
for the social and legal history of early 20th century Egypt. So what makes a “rare” book in Islamic Studies, like this one?
Researchers at U.S. universities
may often conceptualize a rare book as something necessarily old, a “first
edition,” a banned title, etc. These are all potential markers of a rare book
or special material, but they are not the only factors that librarians consider
when making acquisitions for their collections. Consider government/official
publications. They are often ephemeral in that they arere published for one run; they are often difficult to find because they are
seen as an archival burden for someone else (presumably the government or
organization); and, on top of all that, they may on the surface appear dull,
dry, or irrelevant to deep (particularly historiographical) analysis. Even if
one decides to go after government publications, it can be nearly impossible to
track them down for these reasons. When I do manage to track them down, I’m
often asked, why this?
Thanks to this acquisitions
trip, I managed to obtain a copy of Majallat
al-Qaḍāʾ al-Sharʿī, a briefly-issued
publication of a judicial training school in Alexandria. It includes articles
by figures who would end up shaping the Egyptian judiciary for decades to come,
and provides insights into the political history of early 20th century Egypt.
Cautiously, I may say that the UT Libraries will
be the sole North American institution with the full set of volumes for this
title (they are in processing now).
During my time in Istanbul, I also had opportunities to explore
new and old publications and to learn more about the current frontiers of
Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies scholarship. I visited the Hilye-i Şerif ve Tesbih
Müzesi (museum of manuscripts honoring the Prophet Muhammad, and prayer beads)
to see excellent exhibits of stunning manuscript illumination and religious
arts. I also stopped in to the official government Turkish manuscripts
publications office to check on the latest Arabic
and Ottoman editing developments. Additionally, I had the pleasure of meeting
up with a PhD candidate from Princeton University, to hear about her research
and projects and to get the impressions of a junior scholar on the state of
research in Turkey and other parts of the Middle East.
As my trip continued, I reflected on how book buying can be
simply wandering around––somewhat aimlessly––and relying on serendipity
(although I admit to wandering neighborhoods known for bookshops; I cannot
leave everything up for chance). I found myself in awe of the materials
selection available in the average bookshop.
Stopping in at one in Üsküdar (Asian side of Istanbul), I found books in Turkish,
Arabic, French, English, and German; translations of seminal works such as the
biography of Muhammad Ali; Turkish conference proceedings that fill gaps in our
collection; a large and diverse children’s section; premier Turkish Studies
scholarship; and popular hero fiction.
There was a sign in the bookshop that read “3 books, 10 Turkish
lira.” The shelves below it were a gold mine of popular fiction that will
augment UT Austin’s Turkish literature collection and expand the options for
our students to read during their intensive study of the Turkish language. I
was able to procure them at a fraction of the price we would normally pay
through other venues.
Additionally, I had the pleasure of meeting up with Murteza
Bedir, Dean of the Faculty of Divinity and Professor at Istanbul University. We
spoke about our research projects, upcoming conferences, recent publications in
Islamic Studies, and Turkish Islamic Studies graduate programs.
Professor Bedir also took me to the symposium on the history of
science in honor of the late Fuat Sezgin at Istanbul University. Scholars from
around the world—Turkey, U.S., Uzbekistan, and others—presented their latest
research and reflected on Sezgin’s contributions to the field. It was quite a
time to be in Istanbul.
I continued my work making critical connections as the PCL and the UT Libraries Middle Eastern Studies librarian for
both collections and scholarship opportunities by meeting with Recep Şentürk,
professor of sociology and president of Ibn Haldun University in Istanbul, and
some of his advanced graduate students. We met at the university’s Süleymaniye
campus, housed in an Ottoman-era madrasa next to the Süleymaniye Mosque,
following their class on Abu Hamid al-Ghazali’s Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din.
Professor Şentürk knows of my interest in Arabic critical editions produced in
Turkey, and graciously brought the first publication of the Ibn Haldun
University Press—Mulla Gurani’s commentary on the Qur’an—to share with the UT
Libraries. UT is the first university library in the world to acquire this
edition, and I look forward to following the publications of this new press.
I am grateful for, and awestruck by, the generosity and
hospitality with which I was met in Turkey, and which made my trip possible. I
extend my sincere gratitude to the UT Libraries and the Center for Middle
Eastern Studies for supporting my travel and acquisitions in Istanbul this
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.
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.”
“Illuminating Explorations” – This series of digital exhibits is designed to promote and celebrate UT Libraries collections in small-scale form. The exhibits will highlight unique materials to elevate awareness of a broad range of content. “Illuminating Explorations” will be created and released over time, with the intent of encouraging use of featured and related items, both digital and analog, in support of new inquiries, discoveries, enjoyment and further exploration.
Political pamphlets played an important role in Soviet propaganda and education efforts, as they provided an easy-to-print and low-cost method for disseminating information to Soviet citizens. These short publications ranged across many different subjects including educational pamphlets promoting literacy among peasants, biographical sketches of popular figures such as Lenin, and pamphlets such as these, which cover a variety of topics related to the Soviet revolutions and military. The subjects of the pamphlets range from literacy manuals for soldiers, to the experiences of a war correspondent, to a booklet addressing the question of whether the Tsar and his family were still alive (note: the Soviet government kept the fact that the Tsar’s family had been murdered a secret from the general populace until 1926, and even after admitting the murders continued to deny that Lenin’s government was responsible).
This exhibit aims to highlight this broad spectrum of pamphlets tied together by their military themes, illuminating the commonalities between them and how the Soviet government utilized print–often with striking graphics interspersed with the text–to further its agendas, whether they be educational and for the good of its citizens (as in the case of the pamphlets promoting literacy among soldiers) or aimed at bolstering military might, as in the case of the pamphlet encouraging youth to enroll in military schools. While the documents date from 1917 through to the early 1930s, the way in which they highlight the use of media to promote a state’s agenda is relevant to current events involving propaganda being used by states to promote their aims, both within their own countries and on a global stage.
The pamphlets presented here have been selected for this exhibit not only because of their thematic unity and relevance to contemporary issues of propaganda and statecraft, but because of their ability to paint a broad portrait of the early Soviet Union and how citizens were communicated with through print. Many of the pamphlets also feature very attractive graphics that will be of interest to researchers and the public regardless of their familiarity with Soviet history.
This collection will be of interest to anyone who would like to learn more about Soviet or Russian history and propaganda, and to anyone interested in the ways in which states have utilized propaganda–and continue to do so–to further their policies.
What costs approximately five dollars but can be considered rare ephemera in academic libraries? Zines, of course! We three (Daniel Arbino, Gina Bastone and Sydney Kilgore), who work with zines, hope to share our enthusiasm for the format in this quick overview, as well as three exhibitions during the coming year. In explaining the who, what, when, why, and where of zines on the UT Campus, we hope to capture your imagination and get you as excited about zines as we are.
What do zines actually look like? Think of the appearance of all the instruction pamphlets you have ever received that accompany all the objects you have ever bought, and you will get some idea of the many ways zines can look. And like these enclosed sets of instructions, zines are most often staple-bound pages of images and texts that are light to hold, easy to flip through, with subjects galore.
The OED states that zine is a shortened form of the word fanzine, a term coined by a group of ”makers” that created handmade publications for their fellow science fiction fans in the 1930s. This same zine format – small circulation, handmade, often self-published – was picked up as a way of publishing social and political views in the 1960s by activists, then in the 1970s-1990s by punk rock and feminist groups. During subsequent decades the number of people making zines has grown huge, with a resultant rise in the number of zine formats and subjects. Which brings us to the present and to thoughts the three of us have about zines and the zine collections housed in the UT Libraries’ Collections.
What is a zine?
Gina Bastone: My gut-response to this question is that a zine is a just photocopied, staple-bound booklet. Most are really that simple, but at the same time, this flexible format is a vessel for anyone – and I mean, literally anyone – to have a voice. That means zines can be as varied and diverse as their creators, which also makes them difficult to define and categorize. Zines don’t cost a lot to make, and they’re accessible, portable, and easy to share. For writers and artists, creating a zine provides a way (outside of mainstream publishing) to put creative work out into the world, and for activists, zines are an effective and low-cost way to spread important information and mobilize others.
Daniel Arbino: This is something that I’ve been trying to pin down for the last few years. In my estimation, a zine is a do-it-yourself publication that historically, has had a very small audience of family of friends. It can include art, photographs, poetry, short essays, or stories. I often think of those materials as highly personal, whether it is the creator’s reflection on their own life or a television show or music genre that they connect with on a deep level. Nowadays, zines can reach larger audiences through online purchasing on Etsy or through zine fests. However, the explosion of zines through these outlets has also made their identification murky for me. Sometimes a self-published graphic novel can look like a zine and vice versa.
Sydney Kilgore: I, like Daniel, have struggled with what defines a zine. Yes, there is the handmade aspect to them or their suggested small circulation number. Zine texts and images are also usually original to the artist. But zines can contain text and images appropriated by the artist as well. Pages in zines can be stapled together in the simplest way or can approach the artist book category in their complexity and beauty. Zines can be self-published or not. They are usually reasonable in price when initially bought, but, with time, can become rare and attain Special Collection status. In truth, I think the inability to easily define what zines are add to their mystique. People want to know about them, and interested, they go to zine fests, meet the artists, look in libraries and books stores and learn what can always be said about zines – they are limitless in their formats, subjects, and appeal.
What is your personal history with zines?
Sydney Kilgore: Zines escaped my notice until I started working in the UT Fine Arts Library (FAL) and learned of the Zine Collection that my boss, former FAL head librarian Laura Schwartz, was building. Her enthusiasm for zines was contagious. I recall one UT Library event, a Zine-A-Thon, Laura organized during which a group of PCL catalogers first explained the perils of cataloging zines – not easy to assign subject headings; numerous contributors with unclear roles; no listed publishers or publication dates; and so forth. Then we attendees attempted to crowdsource-catalog three zines of our choice from the amazingly diverse UTL collections of zines. We ran out of time to complete our cataloging, feeling some sympathy for our cataloguer colleagues. About a year later, armed with limited knowledge and inspired by Laura’s proselytizing, I headed for a conference in Seattle, where I bought my first zine from the famous Seattle bookstore, The Elliott Bay Book Company. I remember grinning as I left the bookstore. I was now one of the Zine initiates.
Gina Bastone: I first discovered zines in college, when friends of mine created staple-bound booklets to showcase their creative writing projects. Back then, it was just a fun thing a few friends did to circulate their writing to a small audience of peers. I didn’t really think much more of it, and I didn’t know anything about the history of zines in punk culture or the Riot Grrrl movement. When I was in my 20s, I learned more about those punk, feminist roots, and I contributed my own writing to more sophisticated art/poetry zine anthologies. I also started collecting poetry chapbooks at public readings. I’m fascinated by the connections and similarities between zines and chapbooks, and why some writers use one term over the other. The “chapbook” as a format has been around for hundreds of years and has its own interesting evolution. But at its heart, a chapbook is a lot like a zine – it’s a simple, low-cost mechanism for sharing creative work outside of mainstream publishing.
Daniel Arbino: I wish that I had my own zine growing up, but alas, I only discovered zines about three to four years ago. I was working on my MLIS at the time and living in New Orleans. For one of my course assignments, I went to the Amistad Research Center and used their zine collection. I was immediately struck by how unique each zine is. Whether it is by shape, size, format, or content, it seems that every zine carries a distinction. The fact that the zine is an outlet for historically marginalized groups captivated me most of all. I thought, here is a chance to incorporate voices that publishers are overlooking. When I started at the University of Texas at Austin, that sentiment contributed to my desire to advance the Benson Latin American Collection’s zine offerings.
What is the University of Texas Libraries’ institutional history with zines?
Daniel Arbino: Speaking for the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, I can say that adding a zine collection was perhaps new in name, but not in practice. We are the official repository for the Puro Chingón Collective, who regularly publishes their own zine. Additionally, my colleagues and our predecessors at the Benson have collected a plethora of DIY and small press publications from across Latin America – Caribbean graphic novels, Brazilian cordeles, Argentine chapbooks, and cartoneras. Curating our zine collection to match these similar materials has been a project of mine for two years. In that time, I have purchased approximately 200 zines focusing on U.S. Latinx creators through zine fests in Austin, Albuquerque, San Antonio, and New York City as well as online acquisitions. In the Spring of 2019, I processed these zines as an archival collection that can be accessed in our Rare Books and Manuscripts Reading Room. The collection is a small, but noteworthy addition to UTL’s commitment to popular culture.
Sydney Kilgore: The Fine Arts Library’s Collection of zines began to grow in earnest in 2012 under the stewardship of former FAL head librarian Laura Schwartz. Laura, fascinated with zines, wanted to build a collection that could be shared with library patrons; the reasonable cost of zines making their collecting possible. She set her collecting parameters – art and music, and/or local and regional artists; and frequented Austin stores such as Domy Books, owned by zine collector Russell Etchen. This relationship later resulted in Etchen gifting his Zine Collection to the FAL. Laura also worked with knowledgeable library colleagues like Beth Kerr, former FAL Dance and Theater Librarian, and Katherine Strickland, PCL Maps Coordinator, who shared their knowledge and made their own additions to the FAL Zine Collections. Laura then made the decision that the zines be searchable in the library catalog and available for checkout. Former Arts and Humanities Liaison Librarian Becca Pad, equally enthused about zines, continued to make additions to the FAL Zine Collection; wrote a LibGuide for them; and helped head the UT Libraries’ participation in the immensely popular Lone Star Zine Festival. Thanks to Becca’s vision, there are now also plans for a new zine exhibition space on the 5th floor of the FAL which will focus interest on these unique collections.
Gina Bastone: When I started at UT in 2016, I knew about the Fine Arts Library’s zine collection, but I figured I wouldn’t work with it too much because I’m based at the Perry-Castañeda Library. However, I oversee the Poetry Center collection, which was founded in the 1965. I quickly learned that the Poetry Center has a wealth of poetry chapbooks, some published as far back as the 1950s. I found a chapbook published in the 70s by a Tejano activist-poet. It has cut-and-paste images interspersed with lines of poetry, and I thought “Is this a zine? Is it a chapbook? Is it somehow both?” And that’s the fun of the Poetry Center collection – it has these treasures, some of which are pretty rare, that document a history of creative writing in Texas entirely outside of mainstream publishing. I’m proud that the UT Libraries is able to preserve these little books and make them accessible to readers!
Over the next few months, we will be rolling out three different digital exhibits that highlight zines and chapbooks from UTL collections. In the meantime, be sure to visit our table at the 2019 Lone Star Zine Fest from 2-8pm on Sunday, September 1st at Northern-Southern Gallery on 1900 E. 12th St. We will be answering questions about zines, showing off a small sampling of our collections, and even handing out a zine that we made ourselves.
“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.
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.