UH Libraries News

New Associate Dean for Special Libraries and Preservation

Lauren Gottlieb-Miller

Lauren Gottlieb-Miller

University of Houston Libraries is pleased to welcome Lauren Gottlieb-Miller as the associate dean for Special Libraries and Preservation.

Please describe your role. How does your portfolio align with the student success and research priorities of the University? 

My portfolio at UH Libraries includes departments of Special Collections and Preservation and Reformatting housed within MD Anderson Library, the Music Library housed within the Moores School of Music, and the William R. Jenkins Architecture, Design, and Art Library housed within the College of Architecture building.  

My role is to provide strategic oversight and leadership to these units stewarding, preserving, and providing access to some of the richest collections of primary source materials across formats in our campus and across our region. Together with my talented colleagues working within Special Libraries, Special Collections, and Preservation and Reformatting, we work collaboratively across the University and greater region to promote student success through engagement with our collections and to meet the research demands of our high-performing faculty and their students.  

Please share a bit about your background and research interests. How do these inspire and shape your approach as a librarian? 

I received my BA in English Literature with a minor in Studio Art and Printmaking, and received my MA in Library and Information Studies, Art Librarianship Emphasis from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. At Madison I also began a PhD in the History of the Book and Print Culture. Most recently I was the director of the Library and Archives at the Menil Collection, an institution I worked for just under 8 years, prior to joining UH Libraries this November.  

My research interests focus on the history of the book, particularly the book as object in both the historical sense and in our present moment, which informs my approach to both stewardship of special collections and specialized print materials. This also informs my approach to strategically managing these materials within research environments that are well served by open access and e-preferred acquisitions models. I am most interested in the same things that drew me to the profession in the first place: how can we create welcoming and meaningful opportunities to engage our audiences with the stories and histories that special collections materials offer us, regardless of format, while sustainably preserving them for future audiences.   

What are one or two things you’d like faculty and students to know about engaging with special libraries and primary source materials? 

I want faculty and students at the University of Houston to know that these materials are here for them, not as a secondary mission but as the mission of the four units my position oversees. As a first-generation college student, it took me a long time to feel empowered enough to ask for access to special collections and archival materials, as they didn’t feel like they were there for me and the reading rooms they’re often held in can feel very intimidating. What I found back then, and what I want our communities served by UH Libraries to know now, is that these materials are here to support your inquiry regardless of what stage you are in. We are here for you!  

By on November 27th, 2023 in Announcements, Featured

Un Brindis por University of Houston

A festive event benefiting the mission of University of Houston Libraries and Public Art of the University of Houston System was held recently at the home of Irma Brindis, a Houston philanthropist and real estate developer. Guests of “Un Brindis por University of Houston” enjoyed an elegant celebration of Día de los Muertos to support cultural archival collections for engagement, research, and learning.

UH Advancement student ambassadors Ida Hailu and Kenya Cardenas, development coordinator Melinda Colmenero, chief development officer Jaha Williams, development officer James Hayes, and dean of UH Libraries and Elizabeth D. Rockwell chair Athena Jackson helped to produce the successful "Un Brindis por University of Houston." Photo credit: Mauricio Lazo.

UH Advancement student ambassadors Ida Hailu and Kenya Cardenas, development coordinator Melinda Colmenero, chief development officer Jaha Williams, development officer James Hays, and dean of UH Libraries and Elizabeth D. Rockwell chair Athena Jackson helped to produce the successful “Un Brindis por University of Houston.” Photo credit: Mauricio Lazo.

The Honorable Paula Mendoza and Mexico City-based sculptor Javier Marín were the evening’s honored guests. Venezuelan-born tenor Jonathan Sandoval delivered the evening’s vibrant musical entertainment, while guests enjoyed a sumptuous dinner prepared by renowned chef Beatriz Martines, who hails from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.

“Un Brindis por University of Houston” came to fruition through the generosity of Irma Brindis, who is active in chairing and hosting fundraising events for a wide range of causes. She began supporting the mission of UH Libraries in 2018, advancing student success and research productivity.

By on November 2nd, 2023 in Announcements, Featured

Announcing 2023 Alternative Textbook Award Winners

University of Houston Libraries is pleased to announce the 2023 recipient cohort of the UH Alternative Textbook Incentive Program (ATIP).

UH instructors applied for an award ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 that would go toward implementation of an open or alternative textbook in a future course. This program incentivizes faculty members to adopt, adapt, or create open educational resources (OER), or use a combination of freely available or library sponsored resources, to replace required traditional textbook(s) and other high-cost learning materials in their courses.

Awards were granted based on the number of students impacted, projected cost savings for students, the type of alternative textbook, and the feasibility of successful implementation.

In this fifth round of ATIP, the application process prioritized new applicants, as well as proposals involving adoption, adaptation, and authorship of open educational resources.

2023 ATIP winners are:

College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences:

  • Jose Angel Hernandez – HIST 2367: History of Mexico
  • Lindsey Browne – PSYC 2319: Intro to Social Psychology
  • Melissa Markofski, Seth Rinehart, and Justin Crane – KIN 4370: Exercise Testing and Prescription

Cullen College of Engineering:

  • Mingjian Wen – CHEE 6397: Data-driven Materials Discovery
  • Lu Gao – CNST 6308: Data Analysis in Construction Management

Cullen College of Technology:

  • Ricardo Lent – ELET 4309: Object-oriented Applications Programming

College of Education:

  • Carrie Cutler – CUIN 7397: Play in Early Childhood Mathematics

Projected savings for students in the first year of implementing alternative textbooks in these courses is $82,000, benefiting an estimated 1,000 students.

ATIP was created in 2017 as part of the University’s initiative to mitigate the high cost of textbooks for students. Since then, more UH faculty have been empowered to provide an inclusive, accessible educational experience for UH students through OER.

Learn more about open educational resources at UH.

Special thanks to the members of the 2023 ATIP Review Committee: Veronica Arellano Douglas, Stacie Louie, Sadegh Kazemi, Kate McNally Carter, and Ariana Santiago.

By on October 25th, 2023 in Announcements, Featured, OER

Helbing Selected as NLM/AAHSL Leadership Fellow

Rachel Helbing

Rachel Helbing, EdD, AHIP, head of Health Sciences Libraries at University of Houston Libraries, was selected as a 2023-24 National Library of Medicine/Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries (NLM/AAHSL) Leadership Fellow.

The competitive program recognizes emerging leaders who have demonstrated strong potential through a considerable record of achievement. Fellows are paired with mentors for a one-year leadership development program that will prepare them for director roles in academic health sciences libraries. Helbing’s mentor is John Gallagher, MLS, of the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library at Yale University, who will work with her through in-person and virtual learning experiences.

Helbing holds the rank of associate librarian and has worked in consumer health, hospital, and academic health sciences libraries. Her interests include interprofessional education, clinical informatics, and evidence-based practice. Helbing earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Miami University, as well as a Master of Library and Information Science and a Master of Science in Health Informatics, both from Kent State University. In 2022, she earned an Executive Doctor of Education Degree (EdD) in Professional Leadership with an Emphasis in Health Science Education from University of Houston.

By on October 24th, 2023 in Announcements, Featured

Banner Project Returns to UH Libraries

This week, visitors to the University of Houston MD Anderson Library will notice a suite of banners in the atrium and floors 2 and 3. The Banner Project, created by Houston activists Sara Fernandez, JD Doyle, and Kirk Baxter, is a pop-up exhibit featuring pivotal moments in Houston’s LGBT history from the 1930s to present day.

2023 marks the seventh year that UH Libraries has partnered with the creators to host the banners, sparking discussion, reflection, and engagement with the LGBT History Research Collection. The banners will remain on display through October in honor of LGBT History Month and American Archives Month. While The Banner Project comprises 50 banners highlighting individuals, organizations, and events in Houston’s LGBTQ community history, 26 were selected for the pop-up exhibit.

Many archives and publications preserved in UH Libraries Special Collections serve as primary sources for the subjects of the banners and the teaching, learning, research, and programming they inspire. UH collections represented in the banners include Royal Dixon and Chester Snowden, The Diana Foundation, This Week In Texas magazine, former Harris County comptroller Gary Van Ooteghem and the Log Cabin Republicans, Town Meeting I, Lesbians Over Age Fifty (LOAF), Houston mayor Annise Parker, and others.

MD Anderson Library Collections and Space Project Begins

Last year, University of Houston Libraries initiated exploring new and effective ways to reposition the library setting in alignment with current infrastructure enhancements and strategic goals of the University. While ensuring we have critical resources both in print and electronic formats, we have begun an intentional, scaled approach to collections assessment and development, which will soon revitalize a large portion of the MD Anderson Library’s physical space for research, learning, and study.

Key Dates

October 16: Floors 7 and 8 of MD Anderson Library will be closed for an extended period to visitors and seating will be redistributed within the library. Books currently housed in these locations will be moved to off-site storage and will be available by request through interlibrary loan.

December 4: Users will be able to discover collections records in the catalog and request for check-out.

This activity signals the first phase of preparation toward building the Digital Humanities Core facility on floor 7 in partnership with the Division of Research, and complements the University’s anticipated innovation hub; while floor 8 will be cleared for new engagement spaces.

The collections and space project prioritizes critical needs of UH students, faculty, and the scholarly community. For libraries supporting R1 institutions (Carnegie-designated as the most research-intensive), the emphasis on circulating print resources has decreased, while preference for and usage of electronic resources has exponentially increased.

UH Libraries serves as a partner in curricular and scholarly activities, and this project enables a thoughtful and holistic study of the spaces and services offered to provide an enhanced experience of research and learning, alongside collaborative and scalable specialist knowledge.

The collections and space project will span several years and connects to the long-term vision of a reimagined library, where ideas converge, spaces inspire, and people connect.

How will this benefit UH students?

Students will continue to have access to all resources currently offered at UH Libraries during the stacks relocation. The stacks relocation will:

  • free significant library space earmarked for independent and group immersive study areas
  • facilitate direct experience with research activities taking place on campus via programming
  • prioritize tech capacities

How will students be able to access the collections?

For the October 16 – December 4 collections relocation period, students can request titles via interlibrary loan. After this period, users will be able to discover collections records in the catalog and request for check-out.

How will this impact UH faculty?

Stakeholder engagement will continue throughout the project as necessary to ensure we are offering effective and meaningful services and expertise.

The DH Core and engagement spaces support complex research partnerships and services already provided by UH Libraries via our commitment to the research and learning lifecycle. The new spaces will strengthen the Libraries’ capability to serve as the University’s center for intellectual readiness and provide more flexibility which can amplify scholarly productivity.

How will faculty be able to access the collections?

For the October 16 – December 4 collections relocation period, faculty can request titles via interlibrary loan. After this period, users will be able to discover collections records in the catalog and request for check-out.

How can faculty learn more?

Dean Athena Jackson will be available for any requests to present information and address questions at faculty meetings.


Contact collections@uh.edu with your questions.

NLM Traveling Exhibition Hosted at UH Health Sciences Library

University of Houston Libraries is hosting the National Library of Medicine (NLM) traveling exhibition, Confronting Violence: Improving Women’s Lives/Enfrentando La Violencia: mejorando la vida de las mujeres, from September 25 – December 4 at the Health Sciences Library. 

Confronting Violence: Improving Women’s Lives/Enfrentando La Violencia: mejorando la vida de las mujeres

Confronting Violence: Improving Women’s Lives/Enfrentando La Violencia: mejorando la vida de las mujeres

The NLM Traveling Exhibitions program lends displays to libraries and cultural institutions focusing on history, society, and medicine. Curated from NLM collections, traveling exhibitions highlight historical and contemporary themes in public health and connect viewers to sources of health information scholarship and literacy. 

The Confronting Violence/Enfrentando La Violencia display comprises twelve vertical banners in English and Spanish that highlight the front-line role of nurses in the 1970s to identify victims of domestic violence and meet their needs. Nurses’ efforts to uplift the voices of survivors led to a national movement of empowerment, advocacy, and education on domestic violence, centering the experiences of survivors and leading to a focus on prevention throughout the latter part of the 20th century. 

Nursing researchers and activists at Denison Memorial Library, University of Colorado, Denver ca. 1990s. From left: Yvonne Ulrich, Laura McKenna, Barbara Parker, Karen Landenburger, Judith McFarlane, Christine King, Josephine Ryan, Doris Campbell, Jacquelyn Campbell, Daniel Sheridan. Courtesy National Library of Medicine.

Nursing researchers and activists at Denison Memorial Library, University of Colorado, Denver ca. 1990s. From left: Yvonne Ulrich, Laura McKenna, Barbara Parker, Karen Landenburger, Judith McFarlane, Christine King, Josephine Ryan, Doris Campbell, Jacquelyn Campbell, Daniel Sheridan. Courtesy National Library of Medicine.

“NLM has curated the exhibition with amazing resources and great empathy,” said Athena N. Jackson, dean of UH Libraries and Elizabeth D. Rockwell chair. “I’m honored to host this experience for the UH community, facilitating heightened awareness of a powerful and sobering public health topic.” 

Visitors may view the exhibition at the Health Sciences Library in the Health 2 building. An online exhibit is also available. The National Library of Medicine produced this exhibition and companion website.

UH Faculty Cohort Completes First DH Micro-Credential Badge

This summer, a group of faculty at University of Houston achieved Badge 1: Foundations of Digital Humanities (DH) Project Development, a component of the inaugural Micro-credential in the DH program. Led by UH Libraries and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Data Science Institute (HPE DSI), the micro-credential represents the educational element of the joint Digital Humanities Core (DHC) initiative.

The program was designed to address scholarship priorities at UH by researchers, for researchers.

“The DHC is part of the University’s investment in expanded infrastructure for interdisciplinary research – in particular, for research that addresses timely and complex societal problems,” said Taylor Davis-Van Atta, head of Research Services at UH Libraries. “The curriculum incorporates strategies around project planning and development, understanding data collection and management processes, and issues of labor and funding in a methodical way, while taking into consideration the particular context of a researcher, and recognizing there are different timescales, incentive structures, and disciplinary norms in play.”

Tenure-track or promotion-eligible non-tenure track faculty interested in building and securing funding for a public or digital humanities project completed Badge 1 with a plan and proposal in place.

“As researchers, we know our best strength is our relationship to the research we do,” said Linda García Merchant, PhD, public humanities data librarian. “Faculty have amazing ideas for projects—content development is never an issue. What our micro-credential program does for researchers is scaffold the practice of DH into planning and funding the three phases of project development: discovery, prototyping, and production, giving researchers a manageable approach to DH scholarship.”

“This partnership between the Libraries and the HPE Data Science Institute has been very productive and satisfying and also shows the value of having a core facility in DH,” said Claudia Neuhauser, PhD, interim vice chancellor/vice president for research and director of HPE DSI. “The testimonies of the participants of our summer micro-credential program clearly show the value of this structured program to give our researchers the tools to effectively develop and carry out research projects in the DH.”

For Melody Yunzi Li, PhD, assistant professor in Chinese Studies at UH, the program helped to boost her project, which examines anti-Asian racism during the pandemic in 2021 using Storymap as a technological and educational tool. Being a part of the micro-credential cohort inspired Professor Li to think about DH on a new level, through readings, group discussions, and public lectures on relevant topics.

“I am honored to be part of the first cohort,” Li said. “Linda and her team are very knowledgeable in building the DH projects/program and this is a great start to a fantastic institutional program. It’s important to build a DH infrastructure for the school.”

The micro-credential program in DH fills a critical need for incorporating tech into research and teaching, particularly its structure of continued support throughout the journey.

David Mazella, associate professor in the department of English, immediately applied to the program when he learned it was open, inspired by the prospect of direction and support to move his project forward. It’s a study of authors, genres, and events depicted through English-language texts published in three British Atlantic cities, London, Edinburgh, and Philadelphia, within the target year.

“My project has been in progress for several years, and I’ve used successive teams of undergrads and library experts to help build up the datasets and visuals grounding one peer-reviewed article, with others in progress,” Mazella said. “Building datasets and interpreting data generally requires a PI directing a team, often a team of student researchers, as well as specific expertise (e.g., visualizations, data wrangling, website construction) unlikely to be found in a single individual.”

The micro-credential in DH program is essential to bring scalability and efficiency to the pursuit of DH projects such as this, and subsequently, recognition of high-impact work and funding support. 

“The micro-credential program is important because UH, like most schools, needs to be able to make DH research and teaching, which is importantly collaborative, multidisciplinary and problem-driven, work at a larger and more sustainable scale,” Mazella noted.

Jo McIntosh, a PhD candidate in literature, lauded the program for its collegial structure. “After days two and three of ideation and data management planning, I had a structure and timeline for my integrated literature and DH dissertation, including with whom to meet and what to ask for and share in those meetings,” she said. “That crystallized over the following two days, and in Week 2, I felt both a sense of confidence about the meaningfulness of my dissertation project and confidence that I can apply for external funding.”

McIntosh, whose project involves the first digital-born critical edition of the first known text of its kind written and published by a woman in English, Mary Wroth’s The First Part of the Countess of Montgomery’s Urania, was pleasantly surprised by the wealth of applicable knowledge and continued access to DH guidance she received from Badge 1. “Grants were a magical unknown that I thought I might get a chance to learn about—someday,” she shared. “However, the access to software, grant application learning and support plus the follow-up appointments with Dr. García Merchant are elements of choosing UH to do my doctoral work that I did not anticipate.”

A pilot plan for customized micro-credential in DH programs for classes of graduate students will begin in fall 2023, and classes of undergraduate students will begin in spring 2024.

“The training will prepare students to assume places within project teams and contribute not only to a particular project but to the broader cohorts of scholars who are emerging from this program at all levels,” said Davis-Van Atta. “The DHC will also be introducing new resourcing and programming targeted at infrastructural and project support over the course of this academic year.”

More information about the Micro-credential in Digital Humanities program

UH Students Author Chinese Popular Culture Dictionary through Open Pedagogy Collaboration

The following is a guest post contributed by Open Educational Resources Librarian Kate McNally Carter.

Volume one of a student-authored dictionary of Chinese popular culture terms

Volume one of a student-authored dictionary of Chinese popular culture terms

Dr. Melody Yunzi Li, assistant professor of Chinese in the University of Houston College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, collaborated with the UH Libraries department of Open Education Services to create the first volume of a student-authored dictionary of Chinese popular culture terms.

Students in the spring 2023 Chinese Popular Culture course each defined three popular culture terms for their midterm assignments and were invited to contribute their work to this digital open educational resource (OER). This was the second successful collaboration with Dr. Li, following the development of another student-authored textbook for her Tales of East Asian Cities course last fall.

Both courses employed open pedagogy, a teaching approach that envisions students as co-creators of knowledge by inviting them to openly license and publish the work they produce in their courses. Open pedagogy emphasizes student agency by giving students control over whether and how their work is shared, and how they are credited as authors. This practice enables students to critique information ownership and the process of knowledge production, providing a greater understanding of the nuances of intellectual property and their responsibilities and rights as authors.

“Students benefit from research-oriented and self-directed teaching styles,” Li noted. “Incorporating OER into the course assignments and inviting students to participate in the open publishing process gives them perspective on the value of their contributions to knowledge in the field. Students are so engaged in the trends of Chinese popular culture, so it’s exciting to see them integrate their interests into their coursework.”

Left to right: Kate McNally Carter, Dr. Melody Yunzi Li, Ariana Santiago. Photo courtesy of Dr. Li.

Left to right: Kate McNally Carter, Dr. Melody Yunzi Li, Ariana Santiago. Photo courtesy of Dr. Li.

Open Educational Resources Librarian Kate McNally Carter supported the course by creating instructional videos and providing technical support for students, who used the Pressbooks platform to write and publish their assignments. Ariana Santiago, Head of Open Education Services, also provided consultative support at the outset of the project, helping shape the parameters of the assignment.

“We are excited about the opportunities presented by innovative teaching methods like open pedagogy,” Santiago said. “Open pedagogy is a unique teaching practice, because it encourages students to participate in co-creation of open educational resources. In this way, it helps students see themselves as authors who have valuable knowledge and experiences they are bringing with them to the classroom, and it invites them to contribute that knowledge to the teaching and learning commons.”

Collaborations with Dr. Li’s courses have enabled the Open Education Services department to explore how to support courses using open pedagogical practices. In these pilot courses, Santiago and Carter provided consultative, instructional, and technical support around the open pedagogy projects. Working with these courses in face-to-face and online modalities has enabled them to adopt effective strategies to teach students about open licensing, publishing content through Pressbooks, and appropriately citing and attributing other open resources.

One of the most important aspects of open pedagogy is preserving student agency over their work. In Dr. Li’s courses, students could elect to publish their work under an open license, allowing others to reuse and redistribute their work under the conditions of the selected license, or retain all rights with a traditional copyright license. They could also select how their name would appear in the textbook, use a pseudonym, or completely opt out of including their work in the published textbook.

“Students should be empowered to make informed decisions about whether and how they would like to share their work, and a large part of what OES does is make sure that instructors are aware of best practices for providing students with those choices,” Santiago said. “We can help facilitate this process and provide guidance about the most appropriate approach based on the assignment.”

Open pedagogy can be used for a variety of different assignments. “Instructors can give their students renewable assignments, which can be any type of assignment that has the potential to be used by others for teaching and learning purposes,” Carter explained. “When instructors invite students to share their work with an open license, this gives students an opportunity to contribute their resources to other instructors and learners, which benefits the learning of their peers.”

“This means that open pedagogy can be a particularly beneficial teaching approach for instructors who have a hard time finding updated educational resources,” Carter added. “Students are already creating educational materials in many of their assignments. Instructors can intentionally design their assignments to help students build on each other’s knowledge. Inviting students to give back to their current and future peers can make the educational experience more rewarding.”

The Open Education Services department is eager to grow this area of support. “We hope to continue supporting instructors with similar projects,” Santiago noted. To learn more about open publishing and open pedagogy, contact the Open Education Services department by emailing oer@uh.edu.

“Agents of Change” Exhibit Honors UH Activists and Advocates

In 2027, University of Houston will celebrate its centennial. As this auspicious milestone nears, students, alumni, faculty, staff, and supporters are working together to honor the University’s rich history as a mission-driven institution shaped by forward-thinking stakeholders. An exhibit at MD Anderson Library, opening in September 2023, will feature pivotal points from 100 years of distinction.

Agents of Change: Celebrating Innovation at the UH Centennial will open in September 2023 at MD Anderson Library.

Agents of Change: Celebrating Innovation at the UH Centennial” will open in September 2023 at MD Anderson Library.

Agents of Change: Celebrating Innovation at the UH Centennial is part of a three-year storytelling collaboration between UH Center for Public History, UH Libraries, and Houston Public Media. The 100 Years of Stories project was made possible through a gift from Carey C. Shuart, a Houstonian and supporter of art, education, and women’s causes throughout the region.

The Carey C. Shuart Women’s Research Collection at UH Special Collections contains the records of women’s organizations and the papers of Texas women.

The exhibit is the culmination of a partnership aiming to engage UH students in collecting, sharing, and preserving notable narratives of UH and its people.

Read university archivist Mary Manning’s article about the making of the exhibit and storytelling project at Houston History.

In 1927, Houstonians were eager for higher education that fit the lifestyle of working adults and served the needs of a growing city. Emboldened by a spirit of innovation, students, faculty, and members of the community shaped University of Houston into the trailblazing institution it is today. Over almost 100 years, these agents of change have led UH on its journey from a junior college to a major, urban research university. Along the way, they expanded access to higher education and increased diversity, brought innovative approaches to learning, and created an institution that has had a strong impact on both local and global communities.

Jesus Sanchez, a graduate student in history, was one of the scholars to work on the 100 Years project which included exhibit planning and design, archival research and selection, and metadata writing. In organizing and cataloging historical documents, photos, and artifacts that connected with Agents of Change, Sanchez discovered prevailing themes in the primary source materials.

“University of Houston is a college for the people of Houston, regardless of race, gender, wealth, or religion,” Sanchez noted. “I saw how students impacted UH, and how they became influential figures, like Maria Jimenez, who worked tirelessly to help vulnerable communities decades after her years as an activist at UH during the 1970s.”

The project gave Sanchez, who wants to become a historian, practical insights. “I had no experience, and learning more about the field and seeking guidance from experts in archival work was very helpful,” he said.

Cady Hammer also worked on the project as a student curator during her first semester at UH.

“I was excited when I got the syllabus and saw that we would be formulating the concept and major elements of the 100 Years of Stories exhibit,” Hammer said. “This was the first direct interaction I had with exhibit development, which is something I would love to do in my career.”

The overarching concept that guided the exhibit, the “big idea,” was categorized into three UH eras: its founding, expansion, and contemporary community impact.

“My classmates and I found that this concept worked best for incorporating key stories that the Center for Public History wanted to represent in the exhibit,” Hammer noted. Class members selected items that would fit with the focus of each era and wrote descriptions. The impact of activism and advocacy at UH was a significant theme that emerged from the archives. “So many of the biggest changes at UH were student-driven,” Hammer said. These improvements “signified the power of young people banding together to accomplish an important goal.”

Archives curation offers interesting contextual lines of inquiry. Hammer offers this advice to other students: “Learn how to read between the lines. No matter what you’re researching, there are at least two stories to every document. The first one is the story on the page. You can pull facts, people, and events from it easily. The second is the story hidden in the details of the document and how they connect to other materials. Some of the most important points of a document are the voices that have been left out of the narrative.”

Alec Story noted that talking to librarians and archivists who curate the collections at UH Special Collections is a good first step when working with primary source materials. “Going into your research with a strong line of inquiry and a curious mind will help uncover truly incredible documents,” he said. “As we worked on this project it became clear that University of Houston has an unpretentious and humble legacy. UH challenges the notion of what a university is supposed to look like.”

Agents of Change will be on display at MD Anderson Library from September 2023 through May 2024. The opening will accompany the launch of the fall 2023 issue of Houston History, published by the Center for Public History. The exhibit is being produced collaboratively between UH Libraries Special Collections, UH Libraries Preservation and Reformatting, and UH Center for Public History.