University of Houston Libraries honored outstanding librarians and staff at an online awards ceremony this week. Interim dean of Libraries Marilyn Myers commended not only this year’s award recipients but all Libraries staff for being adaptable and thriving in this period of great challenge to health and safety.
The Dean’s Library Advocate Award was presented to Joujou Zebdaoui, director of minor planned projects in UH Facilities Planning and Construction. This award recognizes an employee who has worked closely with the Libraries during the past year, and who has made a significant contribution to the success of the Libraries. Zebdaoui facilitated multiple long-term construction projects for the Libraries. She praised the great work of her team in her acceptance of the award.
The Student Achievement Award recipients are Corey Sherrard and Jess Spiehler. Sherrard is creative, dependable, and brings passion to work every day. Over the past three years, Sherrard has grown into the role of lead producer in the Hamill Foundation Multimedia Studio and assists with the training of incoming studio technicians. Spiehler is a natural leader who is a driving force behind one of UH Libraries’ efforts to support research productivity and make that research globally available. Spiehler collaborates with colleagues to develop and streamline workflows, and routinely organizes new projects.
The McGovern Outstanding Student Awards went to Alys Garcia Carrera and Marus Jenkins, who work in tandem to push forward UH Libraries’ efforts to become a national leader in LGBT library collections. They work effectively with both Special Collections curators and community partners to preserve, catalog, and engage students with UH LGBT collections, and have made monumental efforts at organizing thousands of issues of local, regional, and national publications.
The McGovern Staff Rookie of the Year is Stefanie Florencio, an incredibly fast learner who has acclimated quickly and become both an integral member of the team and an important asset to the Libraries. She has fostered very good relationships with administrators and staff across campus and throughout the Libraries, and is able to juggle multiple responsibilities with discretion, diplomacy, sound judgment, and efficiency.
Reid Boehm is the Librarian Rookie of the year. She has developed relationships with colleagues across campus and in the Libraries, establishing herself as an effective collaborator, and contributing insight and knowledge to several ongoing projects. Boehm made immediate contributions to the Libraries’ research services initiatives, and is building a research data management program to strategically address identified needs and support existing research productivity efforts.
The second Librarian Rookie of the Year is Ian Knabe, who demonstrates high integrity, creativity, and strong librarianship on a daily basis. Knabe has strong knowledge of electronic resources, contract management, and vendor relations, and his problem-solving acumen has been in constant use as the Libraries worked through many challenges related to the system migration to Alma in the past year.
This year’s Outstanding Group is Research Materials Procurement. The members of this department have worked actively with the Alma migration, including new monographic processes with Metadata and Digitization Services, and with Information and Access Services on circulation workflows during the transition.
Ariana Santiago is this year’s Trailblazer Award recipient. Santiago took on the challenge of coming into a new, high-stakes position as open educational resources coordinator, one that required creative thinking, innovation, flexibility, and strong leadership skills. She has moved forward the Libraries’ strategic plan goal of being a leader in student success by making educational resources more affordable for students, particularly through the Alternative Textbook Incentive Program (ATIP).
The inaugural recipient of the Dean Dana C. Rooks and Dr. Charles W. Rooks Diversity Award is Andrea Malone, a voice for all employees related to diversity and inclusion. Malone played a key role in developing the Libraries’ Plan for Advancing Diversity and Inclusion and served as the first chair of the Libraries’ Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (CODI), working tirelessly for three years to get the committee launched and moving in the right direction, in support of broad equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts.
Chris Galloway is the winner of the Staff Achievement award. Galloway is known as a great resource and a great person who continually goes the extra mile, and then goes even further to make things better. During the Alma migration, Galloway quickly learned the software and became a point of contact because of his strength in using the software. He took on learning Alma modules, administrative tools, and analytics even though it was not required; he did it because it helped others and the library to adapt during the migration.
Edith Villasenor Cruz is the next Staff Achievement recipient. She is known for making the Libraries a joyful place to work for both colleagues and patrons while developing programs that engender student success. She oversees a robust schedule of pop-up libraries and has implemented many other innovative programs this year, including establishing a collection of circulating non-consumable art supplies and creating many student outreach events that remind students that the library is a space for inspiration and delight as well as research.
This year’s Outstanding Staff Award recipient is Yesenia Umana. She is not only extremely effective at her job, but is also a true pleasure to be around. Umana is an ideal colleague, always dependable, patient, helpful, and generous with her time, and has quickly become the go-to person for all things finance. She was also an active participant in the Alma migration, and played an integral role in not one but two departments.
Veronica Arellano Douglas is the recipient of the Librarian Achievement Award. She enjoys a reputation as a rigorous scholar, passionate educator, and advocate for centering labor and care in library practice. Douglas has an active, robust, and highly regarded research agenda, having authored numerous journal articles, book chapters, and presentations on topics such as relational-cultural theory in librarianship, the gendered divide of labor in libraries, and the emotional labor performed by instruction librarians. She has also made significant contributions to the profession at the national level, and was recently selected to be a member of the 2020-21 cohort of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Leadership and Career Development Program.
The next recipient of the Librarian Achievement Award is Wenli Gao, known for being an effective collaborator and strong leader, one who has gone above and beyond her core responsibilities to build a data services program from the ground up. Gao has a strong body of scholarship, having published seven journal articles in the last two years and actively presenting at conferences both local and national. Gao was elected vice-president/president-elect of the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA) and received the CALA President’s Recognition Award for her exceptional work and leadership chairing several CALA committees.
This year’s McGovern Outstanding Librarian recipient is Kerry Creelman. She has been a leader at UH Libraries for more than ten years, and is known for her strong voice, strategic thinking, and collaborations with departments and librarians throughout the library. A long-standing faculty senator, Creelman has raised the visibility of UH Libraries to faculty, served as chair of the Undergraduate Subcommittee, and has twice been elected to the Faculty Governance Committee. Creelman also has a strong record of service in the profession going back many years, including a prestigious appointment as chair of the University Libraries Section of Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), and current appointment to the ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries Award Committee.
The 2020 Library Excellence Awards committee members are Emily Deal, J Fisher, Ian Knabe, Tim McGittigan, Alex Simons, Shawn Vaillancourt, and Christin Zepeda.
Students from the C.T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston conducted a digital humanities project using primary documents preserved in UH Libraries Special Collections University Archives.
The Bauer History Project, which was sponsored by the UH Libraries Digital Research Commons, involved the capture, cataloging, processing, and analysis of historical College of Business Administration/Bauer College materials. Students of senior professor of practice Emese Felvégi worked in small teams to produce a digital database using physical objects, processing a total of 147 items and creating 596 unique scans in the first phase of the project.
Esther Adaramola, whose major is management information systems, was one of the project managers. Her role involved scheduling days to file and process the archives. She and fellow project managers collaborated to determine a digital tagging system for the archives that were photographed, and oversaw the capturing, processing, analyzing, and tagging phases.
Flexibility and collaboration were key to the success of the project. “Like the rest of the world, COVID-19 took us by surprise and made us rethink how to proceed,” Adaramola said. “Thankfully, I work with amazing people who were willing to hop on many video calls to strategize how we could continue to make progress. Things worked out well since we all understood the potential benefits associated with completing this project on time. I think what made this project extra special to me was that my coworkers and I were genuinely excited about working on it and sharing our findings.”
Project manager Sorosh Malekzad, also majoring in management information systems, said the important aspects of the project involved planning and adapting to obstacles. “We were prepared for the process by attending a training with university archivist Mary Manning and reading articles recommended by director of digital humanities services Dr. Claude Willan and Dr. Felvégi,” Malekzad said. “We enhanced and picked up new skills along the way. I learned how to batch rename images on my own and created a short video to show others my findings—this is a process that automated a tedious manual process and saved us a lot of time.”
The students presented their project to Felvégi, Willan, and Manning. “I was very impressed with the work the students have done—especially as their worlds have been turned upside down,” Manning said. “The project is an excellent example of how students learned, found meaning in, and excelled at their work during COVID-19.”
Uzma Masood, whose major is accounting, was also one of the project managers. “I had the honor of working with Dr. Felvégi in past semesters,” Masood said. “In spring 2020 she introduced the research of Bauer history from UH Libraries and I jumped at the opportunity.”
Masood said the project was significant to uncovering Bauer’s hidden stories. “Our work in Special Collections is significant to not only creating an online database but also bringing to light the past of our business college. We only flourish and become the powerhouse that we are today because we learn from our past, we know our history and we understand where we hail from.”
“The students performed a never-before-completed experiential learning task with our historical records and also provided a service to our college,” said Felvégi, who is part of the Bauer College of Business Department of Decision and Information Sciences. “Once the collection has been processed in full, we will be able to look at changes in materials released by our college from the late 1940s and on and examine how majors, programs, and our campus have evolved.”
The significance of the project was heightened in part by the demands of the pandemic. “The project was a success as an academic project but has also been a success on some level by providing a purpose outside of their quarantine spaces,” Felvégi said. “Having set meeting times and objectives required students to stay connected. For many, this connection may have given a sense of normalcy during an otherwise challenging time.”
“I personally learned a lot while working on this project,” Malekzad said. “It was something I enjoyed doing and I am excited to take it further to the next step.”
The project contributes to UH Special Collections’ mission of making it easier for stakeholders to access archives.
“Our work in Special Collections plays a role in bringing Bauer’s history to life,” Adaramola said. “By shining a spotlight on these historical archives, we can measure how far Bauer has come in terms of curriculum. Being able to contextualize Bauer’s historical timeline is a great benefit not just for the college but also students and visitors. The archives tell a story about some of the roots that helped grow Bauer into the leading-edge and student-centered educational powerhouse it is today.”
University of Houston Libraries Special Collections seeks stories and perspectives from UH students pertaining to the coronavirus outbreak.
It is important that the experiences of UH students during this challenging time are recorded and preserved in the University Archives. UH students are encouraged to share their stories of this unique moment in history through journals and oral histories, and also through creative works such as drawings, songs, and monologues.
For more information and to submit your stories online, visit UH Students! Share Your Experience of the Coronavirus Outbreak.
Dorothy Zayatz Baker and Lawrence J. Baker were inspired to give to UH Libraries.
My husband and I believe that the library is the soul of the university. A university’s library serves every department, every professor, and every student—from the first-semester freshmen to the doctoral candidates. This is why we choose to support the University of Houston Libraries.
Throughout my career at the University of Houston I benefited enormously from the team of student workers assigned to a wide range of library departments, from interlibrary loan and reserves to tech support. They were smart, skilled, and always eager to help—a joy to work with. What is more, their choice to work on campus at the academic center of the university speaks to their commitment to their studies and their school.
To reward these fine students my husband and I created the Dorothy Z. Baker Endowment for Academic Excellence, which provides an annual scholarship for a library student worker who excels in the classroom and in their work in the library. This endowment is both professional and personal for me. Of course, I wanted to express my gratitude to the library student workers who helped me so often in my research projects.
Also, the award is in remembrance of my own introduction to academic life. I came from a modest family with no chance of attending college without a scholarship, so I was grateful beyond all measure to receive a generous award from my undergraduate college—with one of the conditions being an on-campus job. After a semester of washing dishes in the dining hall, I could not believe my good fortune when I was offered a job in the library, a place that quickly became my academic home. There I was surrounded by books, crossed paths with my professors, and truly began my academic career. I see myself in today’s University of Houston Library undergraduate student workers, and I want to encourage them just as I was encouraged.
Dorothy Zayatz Baker is Professor Emerita of the Department of English at the University of Houston. During her career at the university, she published five books and many articles on poetry, Early American Literature, and literary theory.
Lawrence J. Baker holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics and enjoyed a thirty-year career at ExxonMobil, largely in upstream research.
University of Houston Libraries and the UH Office of the Provost celebrated the accomplishments of newly promoted and tenured faculty and librarians at a reception this month.
The UH Promotion and Tenure Recognition Program was created to recognize faculty and librarians who have recently been promoted or achieved tenure. Honorees are invited to select a book that has offered inspiration or encouragement in their professional journey. Book selections were added to the Libraries catalog and book-plated, serving as an enduring tribute to the pursuit of excellence in service, scholarship and learning.
University of Houston Libraries Special Collections hosted a class conversation with Judy Reeves from the Gulf Coast Archive and Museum of GLBT History (GCAM) this week. Reeves is a founding member and current curator of GCAM. She is a longtime activist in the community, having devoted many hours to organizations such as Pride Houston, Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church, and the Houston GLBT Caucus.
Assistant professor Leandra Zarnow of the UH department of History led her class, “Issues in Feminist Research: Into the Archives,” in a lively talk with Reeves and Vince Lee, archivist of the LGBT History Research Collection at UH Special Collections.
The GCAM Digital Archive is available online at the UH Digital Library. More than 30 years of Houston LGBTQ history is preserved and presented in this digital collection which contains over 100 LGBT newspaper issues from central Texas, the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and other Texas regions, from the 1970s through the early 2000s.
“I thought I’d print 500 copies and they’d live in my closet,” said Taylor Davis-Van Atta of the first volume of Music & Literature. “Maybe I would do five issues if I was lucky.”
Word got around. The journal, produced by the nonprofit Music & Literature, Inc. and celebrating the oeuvres of international writers, artists, and musicians, has released nine issues to date, with its tenth and eleventh volumes in the works. What began as a labor of love by a curious and motivated individual has evolved to an esteemed, distinctive literary publication that is distributed to over 70 US bookstores and subscribed to by nearly 50 academic and public libraries; with contributors spanning six continents, over 45 countries, and working in 25 languages.
Davis-Van Atta, digital scholarship coordinator at University of Houston Libraries, was pleasantly surprised by the reception of the journal in 2013, which grew from his personal interest in artists not well-known in the US. He is publisher and co-editor of Music & Literature, which originated from research, and tons of it.
“In the early days before we had any staff and it was just me, I would look into what had been written in other languages about an artist I was interested in,” he said. “I’d reach out to the artist and tell them I wanted to curate a substantial portfolio of work about their career to date, and make it available to English-speaking readers.”
Davis-Van Atta provided the artist with a sense of the goal of the journal, and realistic expectations of the project, not the least of which is that publication does not necessarily equal widespread fame, although the journal has been successful in terms of gaining the interest of other editors and publishers. With an understanding of the commitment involved, the artists whom he has contacted have been enthusiastic and generous with their time and effort.
Each print issue of Music & Literature is devoted to the portfolios of artists whose work, for various reasons, had yet to reach an English-speaking audience. The editorial team works with artists to select pieces of their work, and translators are hired. The portfolios are assembled with varied perspectives on the artists’ work, and aims to be as comprehensive as possible. Many of Music & Literature’s featured artists have been working for over 30 years.
The most recent issue features Swiss-German writer Peter Bichsel and Canadian poet Sylvia Legris, two radically different artists who share no interest in self-promotion but have achieved a cult following in their regions of the globe.
“We seek out those artists who are truly deserving of being globally known,” said Davis-Van Atta, noting both the challenge of being introduced to a new language as an artist, and the value of encountering global voices.
Now with a staff of seven and fluency in eight languages, the editors of Music & Literature rely on a network of readers, other editors, and cultural attachés in underrepresented parts of the world who have a strong sense of the art that’s being produced in various languages. The lifecycle of a portfolio, from recommendation to publication, takes around two years, including selection of work, securing rights and permissions, and finding available translators.
Crossing language barriers is a time-consuming but necessary endeavor, said Davis-Van Atta. “It’s a big investment from a lot of people, and it definitely takes time to find what we think are the best pieces and what will resonate with English readers. [The artists] are coming from a completely different set of contexts than those we might be used to, so we want to find pieces that make sense and generate interest. There’s no built-in audience for this.”
Issue 10 of Music & Literature will feature poet and artist Renee Gladman, and improvisational pianist Craig Taborn. Davis-Van Atta and the editorial team have found a compelling way to represent the work of musicians on the printed page, by enlisting a well-known music journalist to conduct an interview with the artist for a retrospective, as well as soliciting comments from those with whom the artist has collaborated.
“We get funny, bizarre, personalized stories, and so there’s a real human perspective with those types of interviews,” said Davis-Van Atta. “It’s not just the arts and the work that we’re able to draw attention to, but we’re interested in conveying a sense of intimacy and communion with that work. We really love the thrill of working with that world.”
Music & Literature, Inc., is a nonprofit organization devoted to publishing and promoting the work of underrepresented artists from around the world. Each print issue of Music & Literature assembles an international cast of writers and critics in celebration of three featured artists whose work has yet to reach its deserved audience. In addition to its flagship publication, Music & Literature offers robust coverage of the arts through its website and organizes premier live programming in cities around the globe, routinely collaborating with other cultural organizations and institutions to bring the work of its featured artists directly to audiences. The Music & Literature project is designed to meet the immediate needs of modern arts enthusiasts while enduring and becoming a permanent resource for future generations of readers, scholars, and artists.
Lisa Martin, coordinator of outreach and business librarian at University of Houston Libraries, has been selected to participate in the 2019-2020 UH Cougar Chairs Leadership Academy (CCLA).
Provost Paula Myrick Short launched CCLA to cultivate leadership talent on the UH campus that will engender student success by scaffolding faculty achievement.
In her role at UH Libraries, Martin works with a team of librarians who focus on relationship building and messaging to increase awareness of library services across campus and in the community. She also works closely with faculty in her liaison areas of hospitality, human development and consumer sciences, and management and leadership to conduct course-based research sessions, schedule research consultations, and assess resources and materials. Martin’s research interests include emotional intelligence and leadership; effective library outreach efforts; and the post-graduation information skills of business students. She received her MLIS from the University of California at Los Angeles.
Andrea Malone, coordinator of research services at University of Houston Libraries, serves on the Modern Language Association’s Advisory Committee on the MLA International Bibliography (MLAIB). The MLAIB is a searchable database with more than 2.8 million records pertaining to journals, books, websites, and other content related to humanities scholarship and resources.
The Advisory Committee assesses the direction and philosophy of the bibliography; advises MLA staff on policies and procedures for producing the bibliography; and recruits volunteer bibliographers to index content for the database.
Malone has been a committee member since 2017, and heading into her final year of the three-year term, is now chairing the committee, which comprises humanities faculty from the US and Canada, as well as librarians.
The association prioritizes ongoing assessment and improvement of its tools and resources. MLA staff consult with the Advisory Committee on tutorial production to optimize student and faculty use of the database. Additionally, an in-the-works committee project team will manage the review of indexing vocabulary for the MLAIB. The purpose is to create a framework that makes search results equitable, relevant, and inclusive. The Advisory Committee will collaborate with information specialists from diverse backgrounds and locations to develop the selection of terms that are more inclusive of underrepresented groups in humanities literature and research.
“While the MLAIB has content from a variety of people and in various languages, we recognize the metadata behind it—how people would search and find that content—needs to be equitable,” Malone said. “The goal is to create a dataset that includes text more closely aligned with how certain groups describe themselves, and to include those terms in the metadata. When someone searches the content of the database, they’ll be able to find what they’re looking for based on those new, inclusive terms.”
University of Houston users can access the MLA International Bibliography and related resources at the research guide for modern and classical languages and literature.
Wenli Gao, data services librarian at University of Houston Libraries, has been selected to participate in the 2019 American Library Association (ALA) Leadership Institute, an immersive leadership development program for mid-career librarians.
Gao, who came to the University in 2014 as a liaison librarian for communications, sociology, and anthropology, is proactive in seeking collaborative opportunities in response to the evolving needs of library users. In her current role as data librarian, Gao develops and delivers services and support for faculty and students working with geospatial, numeric, statistical, and other data. She also provides instruction in methodologies and tools relating to geographic information systems (GIS), analysis and visualization of data.
Among Gao’s recent accomplishments are the creation of a centralized source for information on data journalism with colleague Lindita Camaj, PhD and supported by the ALA Carnegie-Whitney Grant; managing a project team to host a data-focused conference in collaboration with Hewlett Packard Enterprise Data Science Institute and Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics (TIMES); and launching a research workshop series. Gao was also recently elected as incoming vice president-president elect (2021-22) for the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA).
Gao is excited to be a part of the ALA Leadership Institute. “I want to focus on becoming a more effective team leader, to foster relationship building among team members, and to motivate and influence people so that they work to their full potential,” she said.
Gao is active in ALA and Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). She has presented various topics at ALA, ACRL, ER&L and NASIG conferences. Before coming to UH Libraries, Gao earned a Master of Library Science from Syracuse University, and an MS in Communication Media Technologies from Rochester Institute of Technology. She previously worked at SUNY Morrisville and University of Central Oklahoma.