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Director of Communications
Around The Library
Over 160 students, faculty and staff, alumni and visitors from the Houston area attended Game On, Cougars! at the University of Houston Libraries this month.
The event, now in its second year, offers a full day of open gaming, complete with board games, card games, miniature gaming, puzzles and video games.
This year, UH Libraries partnered with FoodMachine Houston to hold a food drive during Game On, Cougars! benefiting the Houston Food Bank. Attendees contributed over $1600 in food items and cash donations. The group also taught board games, ran raffles, and managed Warmachine miniatures.
Members of Houston Pathfinder Society also attended, and gave participants tutorials on role-playing games. Several organizations donated games for play at the event, and game stores were also on hand to run demos and sell games, including Ettin Games.
Game On, Cougars! is hosted as part of International Games Day @ Your Library, an initiative of the American Library Association that encourages communities to connect with their libraries through the educational, recreational and social value of games.
[Tweet “Renowned architectural photog Joe Aker’s collection now at University of Houston.”] Architectural photographer Joe Aker has given a collection of images to the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections.
The Aker Architectural Photographic Records Collection comprises roughly 50,000 distinct images depicting scenes of commercial architecture over the past three decades.
Aker, owner of Aker Imaging, has worked with leading architecture and real estate firms, such as Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Robert A.M. Stern, César Pelli, Pickard Chilton, Kohn Pedersen Fox, Philip Johnson, HOK, Kirksey and Ziegler Cooper; as well as Gerald D. Hines Interests and Trammell Crow.
Of particular interest are images of properties developed by Gerald D. Hines, for which the University of Houston College of Architecture is named. It is one of the largest collections of photographs of his buildings completed in the twentieth century.
In 2011, Aker began considering the future for his vast collection of photography. He contacted UH Special Collections, whose mission is to preserve, safeguard, organize, and describe primary sources in a number of collecting areas for teaching and research activities of students and scholars.
The Aker collection offers a rare view of the architectural landscape in Houston and other major cities, including a photographic record of original models of structures that were never built, as well as plans, renderings, models and final photography of the finished buildings. What makes this collection of images special are the many photographs showing the process of design from the first drawing of the first model to the final design model and the finished building.
Aker was one of the first to digitally produce structural model composites before the advent of computer-generated graphics. Working with Houston digital artist Raphaele Malandain, he would photograph a site where a building was set to be constructed, photograph the building model, and drop the model image onto the site image using analog film composition, resulting in a close representation of the future finished building.
As a whole, Aker says, the collection tells a fascinating story of Houston’s economic booms and busts. For more information on this new and growing collection, contact Vince Lee.
In honor of National Bundt Cake Day and National Philanthropy Day last week, University of Houston Libraries held a bake sale to raise funds for a local organization.
The Education Foundation of Harris County supports innovative learning programs for the 800,000+ K-12 public education students in the greater Houston region, and provides training for teachers leading science, technology, engineering and math after-school programs.
UH librarians and staff baked, prepped and sold a variety of sweet treats in the MD Anderson Library and University Center, and in just a few hours, raised over $500 for the Education Foundation of Harris County.
The Bundt Cakes for Charity bake sale was made possible by the Libraries’ microgrant program, an initiative designed to foster new and innovative ideas by librarians and library staff that support the Libraries’ strategic directions.
As finals approach, the University of Houston Libraries is partnering with a local organization to bring therapy dogs back to campus for a fun and stress-free study break.
Certified therapy dogs of Faithful Paws will arrive at the MD Anderson Library for four days in December. UH students are encouraged to stop by for petting, snuggling and treat-feeding with gentle and friendly canines.
December 8: 8:00 – 10:00 p.m. (concurrent with Finals Mania)
December 9: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
December 10: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
December 11: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Game On, Cougars! 2014 is just a few weeks away, and to help promote the event, a group of University of Houston students produced a radio ad that will run on the student-led CoogRadio through November 15.
The students, Will Hedgecock, Bonnie Langthorn, and Jacob Mangum provided creative talent with scriptwriting and voice acting for the spot. Music Library coordinator Stephanie Lewin-Lane directed and mixed the recording, and provided voiceover.
The radio ad was recorded at the Hamill Foundation Multimedia Studio, located in the MD Anderson Library and open for use by all UH students.
Listen to the Game On, Cougars! 2014 radio ad:
Music titled Monkeys Spinning Monkeys provided by Kevin MacLeod at incompetech.com
University of Houston Libraries invites faculty, students, researchers and anyone interested in discovering rare literary treasures to attend a brown bag lecture on Wednesday, October 29 in the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion at the MD Anderson Library.
English librarian Dr. Jesse Sharpe and library specialist Kristine Greive will present “The Last Untapped Resource in Houston,” a discussion of unique works of literature housed in UH Special Collections.
The October 29 lecture is the first installment of Unique Holdings, a new series that highlights the rare archival items held by Special Collections and available for use by faculty, students and researchers.
Future Unique Holdings talks will feature liaison librarians discussing other books and manuscripts of Special Collections that can inform and shape scholarly endeavors in any discipline.
Bring your lunch and enjoy an enlightening discussion!
What: “The Last Untapped Resource in Houston” brown bag lecture
When: Wednesday, October 29 at noon
Where: Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion, MD Anderson Library
Last year, over 130 gaming enthusiasts gathered at the University of Houston Libraries for the first-ever Game On, Cougars!, a day of open gaming for the UH community. This year, the event levels up with a legendary alliance for an even more epic experience.
FoodMachine Houston, a non-profit organization comprising gamers whose mission is to make a positive impact on the community through charitable acts of gaming, will be volunteering alongside UH Libraries staff at this year’s event on Saturday, November 15 at the MD Anderson Library Rockwell Pavilion. The group will teach board games, run raffles, and manage Warmachine miniatures and video game tournaments for UH attendees, and accept donations for the Houston Food Bank as well.
“We are thrilled to be working collaboratively with FoodMachine Houston on the planning and running of Game On, Cougars!, and we expect that it will be at least twice as big as last year’s event,” said Rachel Vacek, head of Web Services and co-chair of the event.
Houston Pathfinder Society will also be attending to give participants a crash course on role-playing games. Game developers will also showcase prototypes in need of play-testers, and vendors will display merchandise. Attendees will have plenty of chances to win prizes, too.
Beyond a fun day of gaming at the UH Libraries, Game On, Cougars! is also designed to promote student success, which “is about helping students acquire the skills they need to become lifelong learners and be successful both in college and on the path they have chosen after graduation,” Vacek, an avid gamer herself, said. “I believe that playing games – whether board games, video games, or role-playing games – strengthens social bonds and builds trust between people. Games also encourage players to find innovative solutions, teach them how to persevere through challenges, and collaborate effectively to reach shared goals. Many games require critical thinking and problem solving skills. All these benefits of gaming translate into having better study skills and more effective interactions within the classroom and beyond.”
Game On, Cougars! is hosted in conjunction with hundreds of libraries around the globe in celebration of International Games Day @ Your Library, an initiative of the American Library Association. Sponsorship opportunities are available for Houston-based developers, publishers and sellers.
Who: You! All UH students, staff and faculty are invited to attend.
What: A FREE day of board games, card games, war games, miniatures, role-playing games, and video games; prizes, refreshments and more!
When: Saturday, November 15, 2014
Where: MD Anderson Library Rockwell Pavilion
University of Houston Libraries will host a special week of social media training in October for UH students, staff and faculty.
As with the UH Libraries technology training workshops, Social Media Week workshops are free and are recommended for anyone who uses social media.
- Understand the differences between a Facebook profile, page, and group
- Review personal profile privacy settings and options
- Learn how to make and maintain a Facebook page
Facebook Analytics: Advanced 102
- Understanding Facebook Insights
- How to make a Facebook page monthly report
- How to grow your Twitter presence
- How to make and use Twitter lists
- Understanding hashtags
Twitter and Hootsuite: Advanced 102
- Introduction to Hootsuite
- Monitoring topics and keywords on Twitter
- Introduction to Twitter analytics
- How to create an awesome profile
- How to use LinkedIn Groups
Instagram and Snapchat 101 *This class requires all attendees to bring their own smart phone or other device with app store and built-in camera.*
- Get to know Instagram
- Get to know Snapchat
This week marks the annual Banned Books Week, a national campaign that highlights the importance of free and open access to information, and calls attention to literary works that are frequently challenged in bookstores, libraries and schools. This year’s Banned Books Week theme focuses on challenged comic books and graphic novels.
Dan Johnson, senior library specialist at the University of Houston Libraries and Association of Research Libraries/Society of American Archivists Mosaic Program fellow, has incorporated his longtime interest in comic books and graphic novels into his scholarly endeavors, having researched and written on a range of topics, from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman to the works of Robert Crumb.
Below, Johnson discusses issues of banned and challenged comic books and graphic novels, and implications for public libraries and the community.
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) is a non-profit organization comprised of comic book creators, publishers and readers who come to the defense of comic book shops or libraries that have problems with materials being challenged. Some of them end up having issues where a challenged book is accused of violating community standards.
CBLDF compiled a list of comic books and graphic novels that are constantly in the news, or are known for having challenge or ban issues. In almost all cases they weren’t actively banned, but there were challenge cases for them, usually about age appropriateness. Within public libraries, most make a distinction between graphic novels for adults in one section, graphic novels for teens in another, and graphic novels for younger children in a third section. Often a challenge comes up when a teen or younger child comes home with a book that they got from the adult fiction section.
Addressing the Challenge
In public libraries, there’s a formal review process documented by that library so that the public has access to it and they know what’s going to happen. It requires the person making the challenge to have read the book in toto. That does away with a lot of the challenges because many people haven’t read the whole book.
When they have read the book completely, the challenge goes through an internal review process that involves librarians of that particular institution. The review panel reads the book from beginning to end, where the issue is to determine whether there is some artistic merit or value to this book as literature. These are stories that reflect different community standards, different people’s lives, and different people’s experiences.
As a result of the challenge, the book in question can be pulled completely. That doesn’t happen very often, but it can happen. Second, the book could be re-categorized; they move it from the young adult fiction section to the adult fiction section, for example. The third possible ruling is that the review board determines that the book is appropriate for the library and falls within the scope of their collection development policy. The last step in the review process, after the board comes to an agreement, is that they write a defense letter, stating what they have determined to do and why.
Comic Books and Graphic Novels as Bibliotherapy
I am a parent, and there are all sorts of comic books that I read, but I won’t let my daughter read. I think parents should assess what they’re willing to talk to their children about. Literature can be used as a way to explore things that are challenging or scary for children. One of the ways to work through things that they don’t understand is to read about them in a safe environment. An idea that has been brought up in my classes in graphic novels and library science is that, if you think that it could happen to someone, it has happened to someone. There are readers out there who are looking for books that speak to their experiences. If you can imagine that anyone has gone through it, you should have materials for them to read. That’s the case for literature, and one of the things that comic books and graphic novels are good for. There’s a term for it – bibliotherapy – the idea that a book as a fictional piece is a safe environment in which to explore traumatic things that have happened.
Selected Challenged Works
Sandman by Neil Gaiman and various artists
Following the events that occur when Morpheus, the Sandman and Lord of Dreams, is captured and imprisoned by mistake by a dark magician, this series of graphic novels blends characters from world religions, mythology, and literature in an epic tale. Ambitious in scope, Gaiman’s creation is a high watermark for the comics format, having won various awards including a Hugo and numerous Eisners.
Maus by Art Spiegelman
Spiegelman’s autobiographical tale interweaves the story of his father, Vladek, a Jewish Holocaust survivor from occupied Poland, and Artie’s challenges in making sense of his father’s tale. In Spiegelman’s Pulitzer-winning narrative, Jews are depicted as mice, Germans as cats, and U.S. GIs as dogs in a very emotional story of survival during World War II.
Fun Home: a family tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
This graphic novel memoir explores the complexities of family life of lesbian author Bechdel and her distant relationship with her father, a man who spent most of his life in the closet. Ever an enigma full of contradictions, even in his death his intentions are unclear; what might have been an accident could easily have been suicide. Bechdel was recently named as a 2014 MacArthur Foundation fellowship recipient.
- Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
- Blankets: an illustrated novel by Craig Thompson
- Bone by Jeff Smith
- Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
- Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughn and Niko Henrichon
- In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
- Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse
University of Houston Libraries Special Collections has collaborated with Gulf Coast Reads on its Remembering Through Archives initiative.
The curated online World War I exhibit features images shared by member area repositories of the Archivists of the Houston Area (AHA), including original materials housed in UH Special Collections and available for online access in the UH Digital Library.
Each year, Gulf Coast Reads chooses a title to promote for its regional reading and listening initiative. This year’s selection is Remember Ben Clayton by Stephen Harrigan, winner of the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for Best American Historical Fiction. World War I is a central subject in the story, which inspired the online exhibit.
Images from UH Special Collections include Camp Logan maps and suffrage letters of Minnie Fisher Cunningham. Visitors to the online exhibit may browse by collection.
October is American Archives Month, in which archival repositories aim to increase public awareness of the importance of preserving historical items and making them accessible.
“The significance of Archives Month has always been about collaboration and the power of archives when they work together in bringing awareness to collections and services,” said Vince Lee, UH Special Collections archivist and vice president of AHA. “This online exhibit on WWI, which we are proud to be a part of, shows the power that each archive brings in documenting an historic event. We each have strengths and collecting areas which, leveraged together, tell a complete story.”