UH Libraries News

Exhibit Highlights the Genesis of UH African American Studies

An upcoming student-curated exhibit at University of Houston Libraries features the student organization Afro Americans for Black Liberation (AABL) and its success in the inception of the UH African American Studies Program in 1969. 

AABL Spokesmen Address City-Wide Press Representatives. Dwight Allen, Lynn Eusan And Eugene Locke Clarify Recent List of Demands. Photo by David Lyons

Part of the “Forged by Protest” exhibit, this image appeared in the Daily Cougar with the caption “AABL Spokesmen Address City-Wide Press Representatives. Dwight Allen, Lynn Eusan And Eugene Locke Clarify Recent List of Demands. Photo by David Lyons.”

Forged by Protest: Student Organization Afro Americans for Black Liberation (AABL) and the Genesis of the UH African American Studies Program was curated by Research for Aspiring Coogs in the Humanities (REACH) scholar Saron Regassa as an analog component of a digital project aiming to make the history of AABL accessible as an online resource. The exhibit is a collaboration between the UH department of African American Studies and UH Libraries.  

In 1967, a UH sophomore, Gene Locke, created the student organization Committee for Better Race Relations (COBRR), which soon became Afro Americans for Black Liberation (AABL, pronounced “able”). On February 7, 1969, AABL presented their “10 Demands” to UH president Philip G. Hoffman, and throughout the semester, AABL rallied for support on campus. Among the demands was a call for a “Department of Afro-American Studies.” AABL’s activities led to the establishment of the UH Afro-American Program (now the department of African American Studies) later that year, making UH the first state university in Texas with such a program and one of the first in the nation. The UH African American Studies Program was granted departmental status in 2021. Tara T. Green joined the UH College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) as founding chair of the department of African American Studies in 2022. 

As part of the REACH project, Regassa is researching the history of AABL using archives across UH Special Collections, from student publications to UH administration records, and using the primary sources, provided the context and description for the exhibit. REACH is a year-long introductory research experience for undergraduates in humanities disciplines, and is supported by the Cougar Initiative to Engage and the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards (OURMA). REACH connects students to existing UH digital humanities projects and allows them to develop research skills through mentored, first-hand scholarly inquiry and through participation in OURMA research programming. REACH participants will present their research at Undergraduate Research Day in April 2023. 

The exhibit will be on display at MD Anderson Library from February 13 through March 13. 

New Exhibition on Birds Opens at UH Libraries

A new exhibition recently opened at University of Houston MD Anderson Library.

The Beauty of Birds, a new exhibition at University of Houston MD Anderson Library

The Beauty of Birds, a new exhibition at University of Houston MD Anderson Library

The Beauty of Birds highlights the illustrations that can be found in the pages of rare books at UH Libraries Special Collections and celebrates greater Houston’s place as a hub for birds and birders. Over 400 species of birds have been counted in Harris County alone, including both year-round residents and those that pass through on their annual spring migration. Especially popular with birders are the neotropical songbirds that make their way to breeding grounds in the northern United States and Canada from as far away as South America. Following their incredible journey across the Gulf of Mexico, these birds stop at the first land they encounter, often sites such as High Island in Galveston, to rest and refuel. Jewel-like warblers and others delight those who see them every spring in greater Houston and the surrounding Gulf Coast communities, and again in the fall on the birds’ return trip.

This exhibition was initially developed in the spring of 2020, during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many library staff, including student employees, found themselves working from home without access to the physical materials in the library’s collection. Under the direction of the Rare Books Collections curator Julie Grob, former student employee Naomi Palomares (’21) remotely researched the many books about birds that are available from UH Special Collections for a future exhibition. In addition to relying on the library’s online catalog, she drew on the large collection of digitized books available at Biodiversity Heritage Library. Production support for the exhibition was provided by Jerrell Jones, Mauricio Lazo, and Greg Yerke.

The Beauty of Birds will be on display through May 11, 2023.

Announcing 2022 Alternative Textbook Award Winners

University of Houston Libraries, supported by the UH Office of the Provost, is pleased to announce the 2022 recipient cohort of the 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 replace required traditional textbook(s) and other high-cost learning materials in their courses with adoption, adaptation, or creation of open educational resources (OER), or assembly of freely available or library-sponsored resources.

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

2022 ATIP winners are:

Graduate College of Social Work

  • Chiara Acquati, Aabha Brown, and Virginia Lucas – SOCW 6305: Research and Knowledge Building in Social Work Practice
  • Virginia Lucas – SOCW 6308: Human Diversity and Development

College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

  • Olusegun Babalola – PSYC 2305: Introduction to Methods in Psychology
  • Anadeli Bencomo – SPAN 3374: Spanish American Culture and Civilization
  • Viola Green, Raymond Gwanwo Hounfodji, Julie Tolliver, and Céline Wilson – FREN 1501: Elementary French I and FREN 1502: Elementary French II
  • Viola Green, Raymond Gwanwo Hounfodji, Julie Tolliver, and Céline Wilson – FREN 2311: Intermediate French I and FREN 2312: Intermediate French II
  • Jose Angel Hernandez – HIST 2303: Historian’s Craft
  • Jose Angel Hernandez – HIST 4336: History of Histories: Historiography Capstone Seminar
  • Melody Yunzi Li – CHIN/WCL 3342: Tales of East Asian Cities

C.T. Bauer College of Business

  • Barbara Carlin and Marina Sebastijanovic – MANA 3335: Introduction to Organizational Behavior and Management

Conrad H. Hilton College of Global Hospitality Leadership

  • Simone Doudna – HRMA 4397: Airline Services Management
  • Jason Draper – HRMA 2365: Tourism
  • Sadegh Kazemi – HRMA 3348: Principles of Hospitality Revenue Management
  • Cristian Morosan – HRMA 1301: Hospitality Technology
  • Minjung Shin – HRMA 6330: Statistical Data Analysis in the Hospitality Industry

Cullen College of Engineering

  • Stacey M. Louie – CIVE 6373: Experimental Methods in Environmental Engineering

College of Education

  • Saira Rab – HDFS 4315: Culture and Diversity in Human Development
  • Sissy Wong – CUIN 4325/7366: Teaching Science in Grades 4-8 I and CUIN 4326/7367: Teaching Science in Grades 4-8 II

This is the fourth round of awards for ATIP, which is part of the University’s mission to provide an inclusive, accessible educational experience for UH students. The initiative to mitigate the high cost of textbooks for students was championed by Paula Myrick Short, the former senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, who led the UH initiative to join the Open Textbook Network (renamed Open Education Network) in 2017. Since then, more UH faculty have been empowered through ATIP to reduce the financial burden of UH students.

Six of this year’s awarded projects were for adopting OER or library materials, one is for authoring OER, and eleven involve a combination of adopting, adapting, and/or authoring open resources. Projected savings for students in the first year of implementing alternative textbooks in these courses is $631,655, benefiting an estimated 4,873 students.

Learn more about open educational resources at UH.

“It’s highly rewarding to see the benefit of free and immediate access to course materials realized for so many UH students,” said Athena N. Jackson, dean of UH Libraries and Elizabeth D. Rockwell chair. “We’re committed to student success through the development of open educational resources via ATIP, and we’re pleased to continue partnering with faculty to improve the learning experience for students.”

Thanks to the members of the ATIP Review Committee: Emese Felvegi, Jaspal Subhlok, Shawn Vaillancourt, Elizabeth Irvin-Stravoski, and Ariana Santiago.

By on September 21st, 2022 in Announcements, Featured, OER, Student Success

Hernandez Selected for Early Career Librarian Fellowship

Carolina Hernandez

Carolina Hernandez

Carolina Hernandez, student success librarian at University of Houston Libraries, is the 2022 recipient of the Rooks Early Career Librarian Fellowship.

Former UH Libraries dean Dana Rooks and spouse Charles W. (Mickey) Rooks, PhD established the fellowship endowment to support a UH librarian in professional development and research opportunities, such as memberships, conference fees, travel costs, equipment, and technology.

Hernandez is assessing the hiring process in academic libraries and how to make it more equitable and inclusive for applicants. “I’m working on a project focused on job postings and related application requirements, and how these can create barriers to application for Black, Indigenous, and Person of Color (BIPOC) identifying applicants,” Hernandez said. “Through interviews, I’d like to find out what characteristics have discouraged BIPOC individuals from applying to academic librarian positions, and also the encouraging characteristics that could be replicated elsewhere.”

The research that Hernandez is conducting aligns with student success priorities of the University. The insights discovered could lead to librarian applicant pools that better reflect the diverse UH student population. “Part of what can help students succeed is their ability to see themselves as researchers and scholars, and representation can help with achieving their goals,” Hernandez said. “Ultimately, our ability at UH Libraries to support student success hinges on the strength of the people that work here, so hiring practices need to be examined to ensure we’re vetting candidates in an equitable and effective manner.”

Hernandez received a Master of Library and Information Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Master of Arts degree in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in French from Rutgers University.

By on September 20th, 2022 in Announcements, Featured, Student Success

New Online Exhibit Features DJ Screw Recordings

A student-curated digital exhibit featuring materials related to DJ Screw is available online.

DJ Screw and his record collection

DJ Screw and his record collection

From Coast to Coast: A Tour of DJ Screw’s Record Collection was created by Jenna Goodrich as part of a Research for Aspiring Coogs in the Humanities (REACH) project.

“This project has given me a glimpse of the steps in the process of creating an exhibit, and has taught me about what all goes into archival work,” Goodrich, a senior Honors College political science major, said. “This experience is invaluable.”

Goodrich, who is interested in archival and librarian work, selected items from the archives of UH Libraries Special Collections’ Houston Hip Hop Research Collection, particularly from the DJ Screw Sound Recordings comprising over 1600 of the artist’s personal albums and singles.

In working with primary sources, Goodrich learned what curating an exhibit involves. “You have to creatively piece together a story and a theme based off of what you have,” she said. “I learned about the wide array of materials that are considered primary sources. I was working with vinyl records, a unique type of source that opened my eyes to types of media that can be used for research.” 

The online exhibit and the collection it represents offer viewers a deep look at DJ Screw and the milieu in which he created mixtapes. “The DJ Screw collection tells us about the diversity and wide scope of influence of both Houston hip hop and DJ Screw himself,” Goodrich said. “Screw had records from artists across the United States and used many different types of music to create his tapes. The vast amount of records from Houston-based hip hop artists sheds light on the entrepreneurial spirit of the artists.”

Based on her experience, Goodrich offers advice to other UH undergrads who may be interested in doing a research project. “I would suggest everyone try to do at least one research project before graduating,” she said. “Put your heart into the work so you can look back on your project and be proud of it when it comes time to apply for other fellowships or jobs. Create deadlines with your mentor and be in close contact with them to ground your project and give you structure. Have a vision of the end product in mind.”

Connecting Undergrads to Humanities Research

University of Houston Libraries projects in digital humanities are being offered through Research for Aspiring Coogs in the Humanities (REACH), a year-long introductory research experience for undergraduates in humanities disciplines. 

The UH REACH program is supported by the Cougar Initiative to Engage and the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards (OURMA). REACH connects students to existing UH digital humanities projects and allows them to develop research skills through mentored, first-hand scholarly inquiry and through participation in OURMA research programming.

REACH participants receive a $1,500 scholarship split between the fall and spring semesters in the program, and will present their research at Undergraduate Research Day in April 2023.

Projects significantly connected to UH Libraries’ collections and expertise include Making the History of UH Student Group Afro Americans for Black Liberation (AABL) Available Online, Sharing Stories from 1977, OER Textbook: Be a Tech Advanced Cultural Learner, Triumph and Tragedy in the Bayou City’s Civil Rights Era, Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Program, and SYRIOS.

Two projects from the 2021-2022 academic year included research drawing from UH Libraries’ collections related to the Houston GLBT Political Caucus and DJ Screw sound recordings.

Sophomores, juniors, and seniors are invited to apply by September 7.

New Open Educational Resources Librarian

Kate McNally Carter

Kate McNally Carter

University of Houston Libraries welcomes Kate McNally Carter as the new open educational resources (OER) librarian.

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

I will be working under the direction of the OER coordinator, Ariana Santiago, to support instructors in the adoption, adaptation, and creation of OER in order to meet teaching and learning needs and advance the University’s student success goals. I will support and contribute to the planning, implementation, and assessment of OER program activities, including the Alternative Textbook Incentive Program (ATIP).

As the OER program continues to expand at UH, we are hoping to use a targeted approach to identify high-impact courses for OER adoption, continue to increase awareness of OER usage and its impact at UH, and increase transparency for students around which courses use OER. I am excited to join a university that has demonstrated investment in its core value of student success, and in my role I hope to further highlight the amazing work already being done by our faculty and support the continued growth of the OER program in order to help meet the University’s strategic goals.

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

Most recently, I worked as a research and instruction librarian at UH-Clear Lake; before entering the library field, I worked at San Jacinto College North Campus as an administrative assistant for the provost. I also have some experience working as a contractor for a textbook publisher. My experience in all of these roles has galvanized my passion for supporting equitable educational experiences and resources for students. I have witnessed and experienced firsthand the impact that financial insecurity has on student learning and engagement; one way to alleviate that burden is to reduce prohibitive textbook costs that can impede students at every stage of their educational careers.

OER are particularly powerful tools to address the high costs of higher education for a number of reasons. OER enable students to have immediate access to learning materials right from the beginning of their courses, and research has demonstrated that students with first-day access to course materials are more likely to achieve successful outcomes. In addition, OER also provide instructors academic freedom and autonomy to customize their materials in closer alignment with the course’s learning objectives. If course materials are openly licensed, instructors can easily adapt materials to fit their needs accordingly; this enables instructors to design their courses with intentionality while also centering student learning.

What are one or two ideas you’d like the community to know about OER?

In general, one misconception that we often hear is that OER are simply “free textbooks.” While this may be true in some cases, it’s important to contextualize this. First, OER are not just “free” or without cost; more importantly, OER are openly licensed learning materials. These open licenses allow users the automatic rights to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute the material, depending on the specific license applied to the work; this enables students and faculty to engage with the material in transformative and creative ways that are otherwise prohibited when using copyrighted materials. It’s also important to emphasize that OER come in a variety of resource types and formats, including lesson plans, instructional videos, tutorials, course modules, worksheets, activities, presentations, and more—it’s not just textbooks!

While there is a vast plethora of OER available for a variety of different courses and subjects, there are not always OER available to meet every instructional need. However, use of OER doesn’t necessarily need to take an all-or-nothing approach; in these cases, the library can assist with identifying library-licensed materials or other low-cost copyrighted materials that could serve as potential alternatives.

As OER usage becomes more prevalent in higher education, I think it is going to become even more important for us to consider the accessibility of resources and the representation of diverse populations in our learning materials. In the library, we have an opportunity to provide expertise in designing OER that meet accessibility guidelines for students with disabilities. We also need to advocate for OER that are representative of the student populations we serve; that means we need to ensure that instructors include diverse voices in their instructional materials, and if possible allow students to contribute their own lived experiences to the learning objectives. This gives our students agency, and ultimately empowers them to recognize the value they bring to the classroom, enriching everyone’s learning experience in the process. Systemic change is needed to break down systems of oppression in higher education that stifle creativity and innovation, and I’m excited for the role that OER can play in opening pedagogical practices and resources for students of all backgrounds and abilities.

New Exhibit Features Houston GLBT Political Caucus

A student-curated exhibit featuring archival materials related to the Houston GLBT Political Caucus is on display at the MD Anderson Library.

Photo from OutSmart, part of the Annise Parker and Kathy Hubbard Papers

Photo from OutSmart, part of the Annise Parker and Kathy Hubbard Papers

Marking LGBT+ Pride Month 2022, the physical exhibit is augmented by a digital component, and was created by senior history major Kennedy Williams as part of a Research for Aspiring Coogs in the Humanities (REACH) project.

“The [REACH] program gave me experience in archives which will assist me in becoming an archivist in the future,” Williams said. “It proved to me this is what I want to do.”

Williams selected items from the archives of University of Houston Libraries Special Collections’ LGBT History Research Collections, primarily from materials in the Annise Parker and Kathy Hubbard Papers, reflecting the influential history of the Houston LGBTQ+ Political Caucus from its founding in 1975 to the present. (In 2021, the organization’s membership voted to change its name from Houston GLBT Political Caucus to the current Houston LGBTQ+ Political Caucus).

In working with the archives, Williams learned that curation is an iterative process. “Everything takes several drafts, from how you wish to organize the archival material to how you present it,” she said. “Secondly, I learned to critically think not only about the history but about each individual piece of archival material in order to decide what would be good in the exhibit.”

Williams initially had doubts about participating in the research program, wondering what it would be like and if she’d be able to keep up. Now, her advice to other undergraduates considering research opportunities at UH is to go for it. “Don’t let anything hold you back,” she said. “I ended up enjoying every second.”

The exhibit and the LGBT History Research Collection are supported by an endowment from The Hollyfield Foundation, which provides funding for the acquisition and preservation of primary source materials. The LGBT History Research Collection preserves and promotes the archives of LGBT communities and organizations from Houston and the region. Materials, including personal papers, organization records, and library collections, document the communities’ activist, cultural, social, and political activities, and the personal experiences of community members.

Through its support of LGBT and AIDS non-profits, The Hollyfield Foundation has made a substantial positive impact on local LGBT communities since its inception in 1994. The Houston-based organization contributes to charities that work to prevent discrimination, promote equality, and assist in HIV/AIDS education, care and treatment.

Research Services Offered at UH Libraries

Undergraduate Research Day was held at MD Anderson Library recently, featuring the work of UH undergraduates who have participated in independent research and faculty-mentored projects over the past year. UH Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards, in collaboration with the Honors College, coordinates the annual event with support from the Office of the Provost and Division of Research.

UH librarians were in attendance to highlight a variety of research services open to all UH scholars. UH librarians are available to assist at any stage of the research process, including:

  • scoping a research project
  • conducting literature reviews
  • finding and analyzing data
  • sharing and publishing research
  • learning about research methods and tools in the Digital Research Commons

Contact libteach@uh.edu to set up a research consultation or drc@uh.edu to learn more about research methods and tools.

Call for Applications: OER Creation Program

University of Houston Libraries is accepting applications for the OER Creation Program, a new initiative that advances the use of open educational resources (OER) to make higher education more affordable and accessible for UH students.

The OER Creation Program provides professional development and financial support for faculty to create high-quality OER that will be used as required course material in a UH course or program and that fills a gap in existing OER content. Materials should be free to access, share, and customize.

Applications must consist of two to four project team members. Selected teams will receive a stipend ranging from $5,000 to $10,000, participate in the Textbook Success Program (TSP), a year-long professional development program facilitated by the Rebus Community, and publish their completed OER on Pressbooks and in the UH Cougar ROAR repository.  

TSP is a professional development program that equips faculty, librarians, administrators, and managers with the tools they need to make great OER. The program is one year long and comprises two phases: 

  • Phase 1: 12 weekly themed sessions with a cohort to give faculty an overview of the open publishing process
  • Phase 2: Hands-on stage where the team works on OER projects, with a mix of group check-ins with the cohort and 1:1 support sessions with a facilitator

Participants will join a group made up of project teams from UH and potentially teams from other institutions. The TSP is facilitated by OER publishing professionals and program alumni, and is built with community, collaboration, and engagement in mind.

The deadline for proposals is April 8, 2022. Interested applicants are encouraged to attend an upcoming information session to learn about the OER Creation Program. Ariana Santiago, open educational resources coordinator, is available by appointment to discuss implementing open textbooks in the classroom and the support provided through the program.