UH Libraries News

Brown Wing Study Carrels Now Open

A total of 154 carrels have been rebuilt in the MD Anderson Library Brown wing, floors 2-5, and are open for study. After sustaining Hurricane Harvey damage, the carrels were demolished and now have new carpet, walls, and chairs.

Revitalized study carrels are now open in the MD Anderson Library.

Revitalized study carrels are now open in the MD Anderson Library.

View photos of the revitalized study carrels.

By on March 22nd, 2018 in Announcements

Upcoming: Digital Research Commons

The University of Houston Libraries Digital Research Commons will host a reading group discussion and workshop.

UH Libraries Digital Research Commons

UH Libraries Digital Research Commons

A reading group discussion on failure will be held Friday, March 23 at 1:00 p.m. Failure is an integral part of academic work, and most of us learn to deal with it in one way or another in our disciplinary training. But failure and its sister experiences – frustration, delay, revision, rewriting – take on new forms in digital research in part because new methods succeed or fail in new ways.

So how can we understand failure as a part of the process of digital research? Reading group attendees should read Stephen Ramsay’s seminal article, “The Hermeneutics of Screwing Around” (PDF).

Attendees are welcome to bring a brown bag lunch for the discussion on how to make failure useful.

A workshop on topic modeling will be held Monday, March 26 at 2:00 p.m. Topic modeling is one of the most talked-about digital research methods to have come to prominence in the past few years, and can be an incredibly powerful tool for understanding and making arguments about any large set of texts.

In this 90 minute hands-on workshop, DRC director Claude Willan will explain the concepts behind topic modeling and then walk participants through two tools to do their own modeling.

Please bring a laptop. Please also download the following programs in order to be able to do topic modeling of your own; there is no viable online portal for topic modeling, so you’ll need to download programs to do it on your own machine.

Please first download and install the repository linked here: https://github.com/senderle/topic-modeling-tool

Next, please download R from https://cran.r-project.org/ and R Studio Desktop — a graphic interface for R — from https://www.rstudio.com/products/rstudio/download/#download.

All of these components are free to use.

By on March 22nd, 2018 in Announcements

Helbing Named 2018-2019 MLA Rising Star

Rachel Helbing

Rachel Helbing

Rachel Helbing, interim director of library services for the health sciences at the University of Houston Libraries, has been named a 2018-2019 Rising Star from the Medical Library Association (MLA). The MLA Rising Star program gives members the opportunity to develop skills, knowledge, and personal characteristics to become a leader in the organization. Each Rising Star is paired with a mentor in a curriculum that includes monthly classes, opportunities to learn about the organization’s structure and history, and individualized projects.

Helbing, MLIS, MS, AHIP, completed her Master of Library and Information Science and Master of Science in Health Informatics degrees at Kent State University in Ohio. She has been a librarian for over a decade and has worked in consumer health, hospital, and academic health sciences libraries. Her interests are in health informatics and evidence-based practice.

By on March 21st, 2018 in Announcements

Vizapalooza Scheduled for May 9

The UH Center for Advanced Computing and Data Science (CACDS) and UH Libraries will co-sponsor the 2018 Vizapalooza event to be held on May 9.

Vizapalooza 2018

Vizapalooza 2018

A data visualization contest will be held in the morning. Entries for the contest can be sent ahead of time to CACDS and should be received by May 1. Selected presenters will show and tell their visualization in MREB room 200 from 10am to 12pm. Two winners will receive tablets.

Attendees can choose to attend one of two data visualization tool workshops for the afternoon.

It is not necessary to submit visualizations in order to attend any of the Vizapalooza sessions, including the morning contest.

Register to attend Vizapalooza

By on March 12th, 2018 in Featured

Health Sciences Library Now Open

The new Health Sciences Library at the University of Houston, located on the second floor of the Health 2 building, serves the teaching and research needs of the UH colleges of Nursing, Optometry, and Pharmacy, as well as other health-related programs on campus.

University of Houston Health Sciences Library

University of Houston Health Sciences Library

The library holds a small physical collection of books and anatomy models. The space includes four group study rooms, 12 computers for use by library patrons, a conference room, a classroom, a reading room, and areas for study with tables and soft seating. Programming that supports inter-professional education and collaboration among all UH health programs is also being developed.

View photos of the UH Health Sciences Library.

By on March 8th, 2018 in Announcements

White Glove Salon Features Rare Books Collections

Book of Hours, Use of Reims (Illuminated Pages)

Book of Hours, Use of Reims (Illuminated Pages)

The University of Houston Libraries Special Collections currently preserves more than 106,000 rare books, ranging from medieval manuscripts to contemporary artists’ books, as well as over 2,000 periodicals. The Rare Books Collections focus on rare Bibles, British and American literature, Houston and Texas history, Hispanic literature and history, LGBT literature and history, as well as fine press books.

The Rare Books Collections support scholarship and student success by serving as tools for hands-on discovery, original research, and the development of critical thinking skills. Materials are not only available to UH students and researchers, but to the community beyond the campus as well. Anyone can visit the Special Collections Reading Room to view the treasures in person.

“The Rare Book Collections of the University of Houston are of signature importance for scholars now, and in the future,” said University Libraries dean Lisa German. “This collection, along with our other Special Collections, is what distinguishes UH Libraries from others, and we are creating a real treasure for scholars at the University and around the world.”

The Libraries also displays rare books in exhibitions to bring delight and knowledge to the public. An upcoming cultivation event, the White Glove Salon, will feature items from the Rare Books Collections and allow guests to experience a few of the rare treasures firsthand. “Items on display will include the 14th century Book of Hours, Use of Reims, a handwritten and hand-painted devotional book featuring whimsical marginalia of animals and musicians, and Edward Topsell’s 17th century History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents, which features woodcuts of animals both familiar and fantastical,” said Julie Grob, Rare Books Collections curator. “Rare items such as these will be paired with artist-created books that were each inspired by an object in the Rare Books Collections.”

Collections like these are built largely on gifts from individuals, whether they be single books, treasured collections built over years, or endowments intended to build and expand collections. Books are accepted into Special Collections based on their rarity, significance for research, and condition.

Leigh Owen, a member of the Libraries Dean’s Campaign Committee and Cabinet supporting the Rare Books Collections, will co-host the April event with Dean German. “The range of the remarkable books and significant artifacts housed in the University of Houston Rare Books Collections are examples of the true treasures of our human history,” Owen said. “They will be the stars of the White Glove Salon.”

To learn more about donating to the Rare Books Collections in Special Collections, please contact curator Julie Grob at 713.743.9744.

By on March 5th, 2018 in Announcements


Every Friday is Cougar Red Friday at the University of Houston. We wear red on Fridays to demonstrate our unity, pride, and passion for the University. Now, UH students have one more reason to show school spirit!



During March Cougar Red Fridays, UH students are encouraged to wear red in the library and enter to win prizes. Snap a selfie and share to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter with the hashtag #CougarRedLibrary. That includes the MD Anderson Library or any of the campus branches, including the Music Library, the William R. Jenkins Architecture and Art Library, or the Health Sciences Library. You’ll be entered to win Amazon gift cards and Libraries swag.

Contest dates are March 2, March 9, March 23, and March 30. Entries should be posted between 12:00 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. on contest dates. Winners will be randomly selected.

By on February 27th, 2018 in Announcements

Fair Use Week: Preservation Copies of Sound Recordings

The following is a guest post by Stephanie Lewin-Lane, Music Library coordinator at the University of Houston Libraries. This week, we’ll feature posts by members of the UH Libraries Copyright Team highlighting Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week 2018.

The Great 78 Project | Internet Archive

The Great 78 Project | Internet Archive

Boston Public Library (BPL) recently announced plans to digitize and make available over 200,000 recordings of their Sound Archives Collection through a partnership with the Internet Archive. Many of BPL’s recordings are on historical formats, such as vinyl LPs or shellac-based 78s, so the impetus for the project is preservation.

It is fair use for libraries to create a preservation copy of at-risk materials, but streaming content has been a bit more problematic due to copyright protections. However, more examples of making streaming content available online are cropping up in recent years citing fair use due to the educational nature of the hard-to-find content. In fact, the Library of Congress has a web page that discusses fair use and preservation with a helpful list of links and examples on the subject.

By on February 27th, 2018 in Featured

Fair Use Week: MLK, the Dodge Ad, and YouTube

The following is a guest post by Taylor Davis-Van Atta, digital scholarship coordinator at the University of Houston Libraries. This week, we’ll feature posts by members of the UH Libraries Copyright Team highlighting Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week 2018.

What Martin Luther King Actually Thought About Car Commercials | Nathan Robinson

What Martin Luther King Actually Thought About Car Commercials | Nathan Robinson

The use of famous figures’ words or images as marketing devices is nothing new, but during this year’s Super Bowl, Chrysler took the practice a bit too far. The car manufacturer used an audio recording of Martin Luther King, Jr., delivering a sermon about the importance of leading a life of service as part of an ad promoting its Dodge Ram truck. Though Chrysler obtained permission to use the recording from Dr. King’s estate, which owns the copyright to his works, the decision to use the civil rights leader’s words to market a truck struck many viewers as tone deaf.

View the original commercial as well as a selection of responses on Twitter.

But the strongest—and most entertaining—rebuttal to the ad came from Nathan J. Robinson, a doctoral student at Harvard, who replaced the commercial’s MLK Jr. voice-over with another portion of the same speech, “The Drum Major Instinct,” in which King derides the very sales tactic Chrysler used in making the ad. In the replaced audio, King states of advertisers, “those gentlemen of massive verbal persuasion:”

“They have a way of saying things to you that kind of gets you into buying. In order to be a man of distinction, you must drink this whiskey. In order to make your neighbors envious, you must drive this type of car. In order to be lovely to love you must wear this kind of lipstick or this kind of perfume. And you know, before you know it, you’re just buying that stuff. That’s the way the advertisers do it.”

Robinson’s version of the ad, which appeared on YouTube, was apparently flagged and removed from the site by the platform’s Content ID system, an automated system designed to detect and delete videos that contain materials (audio, video, words, or images) that infringe on copyrighted works. However, because Robinson uses King’s words to criticize or comment on an existing work (the original ad) for noncommercial purposes, his video falls squarely within the provisions of Fair Use, and the video has been restored to YouTube. Enjoy.

By on February 27th, 2018 in Featured

Fair Use Week: Drake’s Sampling Ruled Transformative

The following is a guest post by Julie Grob, coordinator for instruction in Special Collections at the University of Houston Libraries. This week, we’ll feature posts by members of the UH Libraries Copyright Team highlighting Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week 2018.

Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week 2018

Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week 2018

Fair use doctrine allows a songwriter to use a limited part of an existing song in the creation of a new work. When assessing a legal defense based on fair use, one of the considerations that judges take into account is whether or not the new use is “transformative.” Such was the basis of a ruling by a New York federal judge in favor of the rapper Drake and his 2013 song “Pound Cake,” from the album Nothing Was the Same.

“Pound Cake” includes a sample of the 1982 spoken word song “Jimmy Smith Rap” by the late jazz musician Jimmy Smith. Smith’s Estate filed suit against Drake in 2014, saying that the hip hop artist had violated Smith’s copyright. While the Jimmy Smith song says “Jazz is the only real music that’s gonna last,” Drake’s song claims that “Only real music’s gonna last.” Judge William H. Pauley III explained his ruling in favor of Drake by writing that “Because this purpose is ‘sharply different’ from Jimmy Smith’s purpose in creating the original track, Defendants’ use is transformative and this factor weighs in favor of a finding of fair use.”

Such a finding is rare in songwriting cases.

By on February 26th, 2018 in Featured