UH Libraries News

Giving Spotlight: Dorothy Z. Baker

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.

Dorothy Zayatz Baker

Dorothy Zayatz Baker

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.

By on May 21st, 2020 in Announcements, Featured, Stories

Fall 2019 Promotion and Tenure Recognition

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.

Elizabeth Farfán-Santos, PhD, at the UH Promotion and Tenure Recognition Reception

Elizabeth Farfán-Santos, PhD, at the UH Promotion and Tenure Recognition Reception

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.

View video from the reception.

View photos from the reception.

By on October 25th, 2019 in Announcements, Featured, Stories

Into the Archives: GCAM

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.

From left: Judy Reeves, Vince Lee, Leandra Zarnow

From left: Judy Reeves, Vince Lee, Leandra Zarnow

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.

UH Librarian Crosses Language Barriers in the Arts World

Music & Literature No. 9

Music & Literature No. 9

“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.

By on August 27th, 2019 in Announcements, Featured, Stories

Martin Selected for Provost’s Leadership Academy

Lisa Martin

Lisa Martin

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.

Malone Selected as Chair of MLA Advisory Committee

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.

By on July 9th, 2019 in Announcements, Featured, Stories

Gao Selected for ALA Leadership Institute

Wenli Gao

Wenli Gao

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.

By on July 3rd, 2019 in Announcements, Featured, Stories

New Coordinator of the Music Library

Madelyn Shackelford Washington

Madelyn Shackelford Washington

University of Houston Libraries welcomes Madelyn Shackelford Washington as the new coordinator of the Music Library.

Please describe your role at UH Libraries and talk about some of your professional goals. 

I am pleased to be joining the family of UH Libraries to plan and administer the programs and daily operations of the Music Library. In addition to responsibilities for collection development, instruction, outreach, and research support, I will also contribute to projects that advance the UH Libraries’ Strategic Plan. Libraries support and introduce new modes of learning, and I am most interested in exploring the extent to which the Moores School of Music and the UH performing arts community wishes to engage with immersive technologies. I would also like to leverage the power of partnerships and collaboration to enrich services and expand the impact of the Music Library–thinking mostly of the University Career Services, I would love to create some ACRL Framework-influenced standalone workshops tailor-made for Houston’s performing arts community. 

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

I am an active performer and third generation educator. I make it my business to ensure that my students employ their performing arts education in a global society by providing coherent, consistent and intentional co-curricular support that informs their thinking about issues that have shaped our time. 

It is my hope that they live, thrive, and excel, in the performing arts as a career. 

What is your first impression of the University? 

Supportive. Friendly. “Truly Scrumptious” 

What is your favorite hobby?  

I love swimming. I’ve recently started saying that swimming is an instant attitude changer. As long as I am near a pool or a large body of water in which I can freely take a dip … then life is perfect. 

By on June 24th, 2019 in Announcements, Featured, Stories

New Research Data Management Librarian

Reid Boehm

Reid Boehm

University of Houston Libraries welcomes Reid Boehm, PhD as the new research data management librarian.

Please describe your role at UH Libraries and talk about some of your professional goals.

I will be consulting with, and developing workshops for, researchers, faculty, staff and students on issues related to data and research material management throughout the research lifecycle. This might include advising on data management and/or sharing plans, documentation of data, managing data within collaborations, finding outlets for sharing, and preparing data for sharing, archiving, or preservation. I will also be working to facilitate use of the UH Data Repository. I am really excited to be working in such an energetic and diverse environment that is UH and my sincere hope is to be an advocate for researchers from all disciplines and a support for my fellow librarians to fulfill data literacy and data management needs as we focus on goals of 50 in 5 and beyond.

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

I have a PhD in Information Science from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where I studied information equity and methods for evaluating government agency information on complex problems such as Colony Collapse Disorder and Livestock Identification for all citizens. I found my love for data management and curation as I worked with a NASA data archive for a summer and then later when I did a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Notre Dame Library. As a child of a professor, I grew up surrounded by research and scholarship. I started my career in ceramic arts and massage therapy before going back to grad school for my library degrees. I think these different paths bring a level of creativity, sensitivity, and care to my approach. The ability to listen actively to an individual or a group and draw important connections is something I try to foster in my work. I love hearing and learning about the things people study and I think my love of inquiry of all kinds stems from that early exposure to many different disciplines and ways of thinking.

What is your first impression of the University?

The atmosphere on campus is very open and also very energetic. I feel at home and welcome here. I love how much green space and public art there is here too.

What is your favorite hobby?

I love to do yoga. I do it most every day at home mostly because I love how it makes me feel and how it strengthens and stretches my whole body and my mind.

By on May 13th, 2019 in Announcements, Featured, Stories

UH Libraries Spring Newsletter Now Online

The University of Houston Libraries spring 2019 newsletter is now online. Browse to learn more about our partnerships, services, and events.

UH Libraries newsletter

UH Libraries newsletter

By on April 17th, 2019 in Announcements, Featured, Stories