Alexander Rodriguez has a summer internship at the University of Houston Archives, funded by the University of Chicago through a merit scholarship. Rodriguez is working with three extensive audiovisual collections, Marketing and Communications, Special Events, and Development, which contain highly requested material and document important campus people and events. The project will significantly enhance the discoverability of these resources. Rodriguez is a fourth-year student at the University of Chicago, pursuing a major of political science focusing on international affairs and a minor in French.
What inspires your interest in working with archives?
This year, I started work on my undergraduate thesis about decolonization. In essence, I’m asking how and why France still maintains a substantial empire around the globe, even though history presents independence as something realized and done for the formerly colonized world. One aspect of my approach to answering that is to not take for granted the motivations and considerations of the two relevant actors, the French and the territorial residents. To evaluate those motivations, my task is to decode what their goals were, what information they were looking at, and what factors they found important. This kind of research necessitates the records and documents from the critical period, which can best be found in archives. As preparation for this research, I wanted to get more first-hand experience with archives, especially on the internal side. I knew I would be coming home to Houston for the summer, so I reached out to Special Collections about working with them, and the opportunity came together from there.
Please describe the tasks involved in your archival work.
My focus here has been stewarding a new acquisition of archival materials from UH Communications and Marketing. The items mostly originate from the turn of the millennium and include a variety of videocassettes, audiotapes, and newsletters. Over the past weeks, I have worked on cataloging and organizing the material. From sifting through the items, I have been gleaning information about individual artifacts and the set as a whole, which can be turned into description information useful for researchers hoping to tap into the collection. Out of the collection, I also select a few for digitization, particularly if they seem fragile or useful to make accessible upfront. Alongside that, I have also been working with collections from Development and Special Events to compare their content to this collection.
What stories/themes do you see emerging from these collections?
One aspect that I’ve noticed is the way the University spotlights its faculty and their work in its outreach initiatives. Many of the commercials and advertisements produced for UH focus on researchers who have advanced their fields while at the University, such as Dr. Paul Chu’s discoveries in superconductivity. Elsewhere, UH professors appear in news segments to discuss their work and share their perspective. The common message for the public is that this work is not only research worth continuing but also knowledge that has an impact on the lives of people outside academia and merits sharing. Through its incorporation with the Marketing materials, it becomes clear how that presentation underlines the importance of the University in supporting and enabling this research, which then encourages the next generation of bright minds to come to UH and join these efforts at the forefront of learning.
What is the significance of making archival collections more accessible?
An archive has to be built with the purpose of being used as a resource for the curious. If holding on to artifacts of the past was the only consideration, we’d do well to encase everything in concrete. These archival collections are a material memory that provides unique perspectives and invites further inquiry. By making them more available, we can encourage researchers to include them into their pursuits, alongside the sort of information they can gain from conventional libraries and websites, which can really only benefit their work. The best research is about going beyond the word of the text and asking questions about the document itself. Why was this created? Why is it in this format? Why is it together with these other items? Part of the point of preservation is to construct that context in a meaningful way, which can help take researchers to a deeper understanding of their subject.
University of Houston students are encouraged to register for upcoming Arduino and Sewing workshops provided by UH Libraries Makerspace specialists.
The Arduino series begins Friday, March 12 and will be held online using TinkerCAD Circuits. The Arduino is the most affordable and accessible microcontroller available. It has the ability to accomplish almost all simple electronic projects and robots, and is the perfect introduction to programming in C++. These five workshops offer an introduction to Arduino from scratch so you can build your robot, class project, or just improve your home, without any programming experience needed.
The Sewing series is aimed at beginners who want to learn basic sewing skills. During this three-part course, you will learn how to sew an Among Us Plushie. These workshops will be held virtually and will be 3 hours each session.
Open Education Week is March 1 – 5. University of Houston Libraries joins the global movement to raise awareness and demonstrate the impact of open education.
According to the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), open education “encompasses resources, tools and practices that are free of legal, financial and technical barriers and can be fully used, shared and adapted in the digital environment” and “maximizes the power of the Internet to make education more affordable, accessible and effective.”
The inaugural Open Texas Conference (March 11 – 12, 2021) offers free registration. This no-cost professional development opportunity brings together open education practitioners and advocates from across Texas, including presentations by UH faculty.
The recently-launched OERTX Repository is a public digital repository of OER designed to meet the needs of Texas students and faculty. Explore the collection of free resources and consider submitting your work to the repository.
Institutions worldwide are hosting events to celebrate Open Education Week. A few are highlighted below:
- Anytime: Open Education Challenge Series
- March 4 at 12PM CT: Ask Me Anything About OER Publishing
- March 5 at 3PM CT: Imagining an Open Future
For more information about OER, visit UH Libraries Open Educational Resources.
Two University of Houston librarians were chosen for the 2020-21 UH Cougar Chairs Leadership Academy (CCLA).
Rachel Helbing and Ariana Santiago are participating in the program launched by Paula Myrick Short, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at UH, to cultivate leadership talent that will engender student success by scaffolding faculty achievement.
Helbing, who is the director of library services for the health sciences, said the knowledge learned in CCLA has helped her to better know herself and will ultimately lead to a more dynamic and service-oriented library that meets the needs of UH students in new and improved ways.
“One key takeaway for me is that we can lead with our strengths,” Helbing said. “Everyone has existing strengths that enable them to be leaders. We should find and nurture the complementary strengths in our colleagues in order to have a well-rounded organization.”
Santiago, open educational resources coordinator, said that CCLA has strengthened her understanding of leadership styles, emotional intelligence, and teamwork.
“Applying these lessons to my work with open educational resources, and throughout the Libraries, helps us continually support students and the UH community,” she said. “It’s important to think about what people need from leaders–qualities like trust, compassion, stability, and hope. This has really resonated with me throughout CCLA and led me to reflect on how I meet those needs.”
A new University of Houston Libraries book drop is now open on the first floor of the UH School of Art.
The University of Houston Libraries Makerspace is now circulating kits, including:
- Educational BoosterPack MKII
- Terasic Alteras
- TI Launchpads (MSP432, CC3200, 4C123)
- Analog Discovery 2
- Arduino (Mega, ARDX, Uno)
For more information, visit the Service Desk at MD Anderson Library.
The Architecture, Design, and Art Library is pleased to announce its virtual pop-up programming for the spring semester. Each pop-up consists of curated art books on view and prize drawings on Instagram.
Theme: Black History Month
Theme: Valentine’s Day
Theme: International Women’s Day
Theme: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Theme: National Photography Month
University of Houston Libraries Digital Research Commons (DRC) invites all UH graduate students to submit an application for participation in the Spring 2021 Digital Research Institute, a three-day intensive experience aimed at building the foundational skills and knowledge needed to generate a piece of digital research.
The Institute will take place virtually over three days of Spring Break, March 15-17, 2021. It is aimed at graduate students who are in the beginning phases of digital research that is intended to form the basis for part of an article or a thesis/dissertation. The 4-6 students who are best positioned to benefit from the experience will be offered a seat in the Institute along with a $250.00 scholarship, provided by the UH Graduate School, to be delivered after successful completion of the experience.
Participants will be expected to attend all three days of the Institute plus a one-day “Getting Started” workshop to be scheduled on a Friday approximately two weeks prior to the Institute. Participants will be assigned individualized pre-work and readings that will give them the theoretical and conceptual grounding needed to undertake the work of the Institute and exit the experience with the tangible beginnings of their digital research as well as next steps. Over the Institute, they will attend 3-5 sessions per day delivered by librarians and other digital research practitioners, each targeted at building their technical skills and offering individualized mentorship.
To apply, fill out this form by Friday, January 29, 2021, 11:59PM.
Questions? Contact the staff in the Digital Research Commons: email@example.com
Criteria for acceptance: The application review committee aims to accept 4-6 applicants for participation in the Institute. Applications will be evaluated based on candidates’ clarity of purpose and intent, and how they hope to benefit from the Institute experience. Preference will be given to applicants who clearly illustrate how the Institute will enhance and further their research ambitions while at University of Houston. The review committee will strive to represent a variety of perspectives, disciplines, backgrounds, and levels of experience in its selection process.
Application submission deadline: Friday, January 29, 2021, 11:59PM
Acceptance notifications issued: Wednesday, February 10, 2021
Confirmation of participation: Monday, February 15, 2021
Tentative “Getting Started” workshop: Friday, February 26, 2021, 12:00pm – 3:00pm
Digital Research Institute: March 15-17, 2021
The University of Houston Libraries Makerspace will host a new sewing workshop online this month. Users will learn basic hand-sewing skills by sewing a simple plushie based on the popular game Among Us. No experience is required and the workshop is free.
This class will be held via Zoom on November 18 from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Registration is required. Materials required to complete this course will be free for curbside pick-up after the user has completed registration for the workshop.
University of Houston Libraries will host a series of Arduino workshops online beginning Thursday, October 29. The Arduino is the most affordable and accessible microcontroller available. It has the ability to accomplish almost all simple electronic projects and is the perfect introduction to programming in C++. These five workshops offer an introduction to Arduino from scratch so you can build your robot, work on your class project, or improve your home – without any programming experience needed.
Arduino Workshop 1 – October 29, 12 noon – 2 p.m.
Arduino Workshop 2 – November 5, 12 noon – 2 p.m.
Arduino Workshop 3 – November 12, 12 noon – 2 p.m.
Arduino Workshop 4 – November 19, 12 noon – 2 p.m.
Arduino Workshop 5 – December 3, 12 noon – 2 p.m.