Banned Books Week

This week marks Banned Books Week, an annual celebration that highlights free and open access to information. This year’s theme focuses on the importance of the First Amendment, which guarantees the right to read.

This celebration is concurrent with National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 through October 15).  Lisa Cruces, Hispanic Collections archivist at the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections, offers her thoughts on banned books in the context of Hispanic and Latinx authors and literature. UH Special Collections is home to many rare and unique titles that have been challenged or banned. These selections are available for research in the Special Collections Reading Room.


Banned Books Week is a great time to reflect on issues that impact many different communities year-round. It highlights the intersection between literature, knowledge, free speech, and underrepresented communities. Challenged books often call to light issues with which people in the Latinx community have been struggling for decades, in particular and very recently, ethnic studies materials in public schools that document and put voice to the experiences of immigrant and undocumented communities.

The House on Mango Street and Bless Me, Ultima, two banned books available for research in UH Special Collections.

The House on Mango Street and Bless Me, Ultima, two banned books available for research in UH Special Collections.

Books representing voices from all backgrounds and cultures are powerful tools that validate an individual’s or community’s experience and contributions. Some of the titles that have been banned, such as Bless Me, Ultima or The House on Mango Street, are examples of the repression of different voices, and of hindering knowledge and growth in education and society. When we ban a book, we ban a voice.

It’s great to reflect on voices in literature that don’t necessarily line up with your perspectives. Controversial books are just one way of understanding others’ experiences and circumstances. By being exposed to different opinions, we can reevaluate why we believe what we do, and expand what we believe, and ultimately better understand the perspectives of others. Books that might be controversial at one period in time serve as reminders that, although we’ve evolved as a society, we must continue to humanize these topics in order to grow further.

Many of those challenged titles can be found in the Kanellos Latino Literary Movement Collection, housed in UH Special Collections. We’re fortunate enough to have some of those early manuscripts in our archival collections, and it’s wonderful to see that now they’re being published in fifth and sixth editions. The topics are still timely. The University provides a place for research, preservation, and incorporation of those works in higher education and it’s important to show that we’re preserving and creating avenues for those voices to be accessed.

Posted on September 22nd, 2017 by Esmeralda Fisher and filed under Announcements |  No Comments »

New Chemical and Bio Sciences Librarian

UH Libraries welcomes Erica Lopez as the new chemical and biological sciences librarian.

UH Libraries welcomes Erica Lopez as the new chemical and biological sciences librarian.

The University of Houston Libraries welcomes Erica Lopez as the new chemical and biological sciences librarian.

Please describe your role at UH Libraries and talk about some of your professional goals and/or research areas.

I will be the liaison between the library and faculty, staff, and students in the areas of chemistry, biology, and biochemistry. At my previous job, I committed much of my time to service at the institutional level. I was the library Faculty Senate rep and I participated in several committees for several years! One of my goals is to shift my service involvement so that I contribute more to my profession. I would like to become actively involved with state and national library organizations.

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

I was a career student. I studied music performance, literature, languages, biology, and environmental sciences. One thing that remained constant throughout my journey was an immense anxiety about things like playing concerts and recitals, taking quizzes and tests, making phone calls, and going up to people to ask questions. I’m over that now, but I try to approach my work with the consideration in mind that for some people, asking for help is a big deal. I want to make sure that the experience is as welcoming and positive as possible. If a student needs directions, I don’t want to just point them to a map and send them on their way; I want to walk them to where they need to go and point out helpful resources along the way.

I also wholeheartedly believe in hands-on learning and I enjoy spending quality time with students in their classes. At my last institution I especially loved tagging along with field herp and field botany labs. It really helped me gain a better understanding of what the people in my subject areas were focusing on, and it cemented some of my working relationships with students and faculty.

Please describe your first impressions of the University of Houston.

I love it. UH has been such a supportive environment. I have not had a single negative experience while taking care of all the necessary business of starting at a new place. Everything has been a breeze. Everyone has been approachable. I have been especially impressed with how quickly and efficiently everyone and everything is moving forward in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. I’m looking forward to learning how I might contribute to a positive learning and working environment.

What is your favorite book/movie/cuisine/hobby?

I enjoy reading books and watching movies that force one to consider and appreciate some of the more uncomfortable truths of humanity. My favorite books include The Color Purple and Lolita, and my favorite movies include Sling Blade, The Green Mile, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. My guilty pleasure read is the Outlander series, and when I need a pick-me-up I tend to gravitate toward feel-good movies. My latest go-to is The Switch, with Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman. It’s a story about love and mistakes and growth.

As for cuisine, I am very much looking forward to discovering the nearest Indian lunch buffet!

Music is very important to me. I appreciate all kinds of music, but not enough to always know who sings what, what the lyrics are, or which album something is on. It drives my friends crazy! One of my all-time favorites is Pink Floyd, but I’ve been feeling nostalgic lately. Currently I’m listening to a lot of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Joy Division.

My hobby right now is challenging myself to be the best mother I can be. I have a 5 year-old and a 15 month-old. We lost someone very important to us recently, so ensuring that my children continue to learn, grow, and remain positive by taking care of myself and offering them the best possible care is my first priority.

Posted on September 20th, 2017 by Esmeralda Fisher and filed under Announcements |  1 Comment »

September Student Art Exhibit

The William R. Jenkins Architecture & Art Library is pleased to present new art by student Isaac Farley, on display through October 2017.

Subcomandante by artist Isaac Farley. Screenprint.

Subcomandante by artist Isaac Farley. Screenprint.

Artist’s statement:

My work is a form of storytelling. I want to tell stories
of the lives of everyday people, like my family that is
made up of people who were and are workers, either on
ranches or in factories, and their desires, struggles, their
triumphs, and tribulations. Stories are rooted in oral
traditions and cave paintings and are the basis of human
history. When I try to tell a story without words, I think
in images. These images are influenced by movies, photography,
and other art, and are most readily translated
onto a two dimensional surface.

Often the work deals with America. Not so much what
America is or what it was, but the ideal, and myth of
America. America, the land of equal opportunity, where
the truth is spoken, justice is fair and even, and where
people live as they choose instead of what others impose
on them.

Duality appears often in my work as innate and inborn
opposing or balancing forces. People are simultaneously
advanced and primitive, capable of great acts of kindness
and cruelty, with the ability to create both great art and
terrible destruction.

Posted on September 19th, 2017 by Esmeralda Fisher and filed under Announcements |  No Comments »

2017-2018 Poetry and Prose

The 2017-2018 season of Poetry and Prose: Creative Writers at the University of Houston kicks off on September 20.

The 2017-2018 season of Poetry and Prose: Creative Writers at the University of Houston kicks off on September 20.

The 2017-2018 season of Poetry and Prose: Creative Writers at the University of Houston kicks off on September 20.

Now in its 18th year, Poetry and Prose provides a venue for the talented authors and poets of the Creative Writing Program at UH to share their work with the UH and Houston community.

The 2017-2018 series line-up includes:

  • September 20 – new Creative Writing Program graduate students
  • October 11 – Faculty Mat Johnson and Roberto Tejada
  • November 15 – Ecopoetics on the Gulf (class)
  • February 7 – Henk Rossouw and Novuyo Tshuma
  • April 25 – Glass Mountain contributors

Each reading is held on Wednesday evenings at 5:30 p.m. in the Honors College Commons, MD Anderson Library. All readings are free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be provided.

Posted on September 13th, 2017 by Esmeralda Fisher and filed under Announcements |  Comments Off on 2017-2018 Poetry and Prose

UH Library Movie Night

Join UH Libraries for a viewing of the 1987 cult classic Spaceballs, plus special UH archive footage. A UH student ID is required to receive free admission plus free snacks.

UH Library Movie Night

UH Library Movie Night

What: UH Library Movie Night
When: Wednesday, September 20 at 7:00 p.m.
Where: MD Anderson Library Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion

Posted on September 13th, 2017 by Esmeralda Fisher and filed under Announcements |  Comments Off on UH Library Movie Night

UH Libraries Wins Grant to Digitize Documentary Collection

Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Texas State Library and Archives Commission

University of Houston Libraries Special Collections has received a grant to preserve and digitize documentary interviews on 16mm film.

The TexTreasures grant in the amount of $24,750 will provide for the digitization of 112 interviews from This Is Our Home, It Is Not For Sale, a documentary collection on the histories of segregation, gentrification, and urban development in the Houston, Texas neighborhood of Riverside Terrace. UH Libraries will preserve master files, catalog and index the recordings, and publish them to the UH Digital Library where they will be freely accessible.

TexTreasures is a yearly competitive grant program of TexShare, a consortium of Texas libraries joining together to share print and electronic materials, purchase online resources, and combine staff expertise. TexShare is administered by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC).

The TexTreasures awards are made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to TSLAC under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act.

Institute of Museum and Library Services

Institute of Museum and Library Services

IMLS  is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s approximately 123,000 libraries (link is external) and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Posted on September 13th, 2017 by Esmeralda Fisher and filed under Announcements |  Comments Off on UH Libraries Wins Grant to Digitize Documentary Collection

September 2017 New Databases

New databases in a variety of subjects are now available from UH Libraries.

New databases in a variety of subjects are now available from UH Libraries.

The following databases are now available from the University of Houston Libraries:

SimplyAnalytics
Country and geography information

Nexis Uni (recently migrated from LexisNexis academic)
Biographies and people

Posted on September 11th, 2017 by Esmeralda Fisher and filed under Announcements |  Comments Off on September 2017 New Databases

LinkedIn at the Library This Week

UH students are invited to this free event at the MD Anderson Library.

UH students are invited to this free event at the MD Anderson Library.

The University of Houston Libraries, in partnership with University Career Services, have brought back an event to help students gain a competitive edge using LinkedIn. The event will provide students with the tools and knowledge to maximize their use of the powerful career and networking platform.

The free event is open to all UH students. Staff from the UH Libraries and Career Services will be on hand to provide friendly critiques of students’ LinkedIn profiles (similar to a résumé critique) and offer best practices for networking on LinkedIn. Professional portraits will be offered to students to use in their LinkedIn profiles.

No registration is required to attend. Drop-ins are encouraged. Light snacks will be available.

What: LinkedIn at the Library
When: Wednesday, September 13 from 12 noon to 2 p.m.
Where: MD Anderson Library Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion

Posted on September 11th, 2017 by Esmeralda Fisher and filed under Announcements |  Comments Off on LinkedIn at the Library This Week

Constitution Day 2017

Constitution Day is Sunday, September 17, 2017. Get your free pocket Constitution at the MD Anderson Library Service Desk.

Constitution Day

Constitution Day

Posted on September 11th, 2017 by Esmeralda Fisher and filed under Announcements |  Comments Off on Constitution Day 2017

UH Special Collections Winter Book Club

University of Houston students, staff, faculty, and alumni are invited to join UH Libraries for a discussion of The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson.

Join us on Thursday, December 7 for a discussion of "The Warmth of Other Suns."

Join us on Thursday, December 7 for a discussion of “The Warmth of Other Suns.”

Readers will gather on Thursday, December 7 from 12 noon – 1 p.m. in the Special Collections Evans Room at the MD Anderson Library. Lunch will be provided but registration is required.

For more information, contact Lisa Cruces.

Posted on September 11th, 2017 by Esmeralda Fisher and filed under Announcements |  Comments Off on UH Special Collections Winter Book Club