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Director of Communications
Around The Library
Rachel Vacek, head of UH Libraries Web Services, has been selected as a 2014 Library Journal Mover and Shaker. Each year, Library Journal honors forward-thinking library professionals who are actively shaping the future of libraries. Vacek was recognized as an Innovator whose focus on applying novel approaches to web-based tools and services for the UH community reflects a transformation in the academic research library space.
Vacek’s team leads an integrative web presence that optimizes the ways in which users access and discover knowledge. “My job is to help make our library’s web site easier to use,” Vacek said. “The web site is the virtual front door to the library, and it’s important that it’s welcoming and inviting.”
Vacek, who is the vice president/president-elect of the Library Information Technology Association (LITA), envisions the UH Libraries as a reimagined space that not only facilitates the ways in which students, faculty, staff and the public find information, but also one that cultivates creating and sharing knowledge.
Much of Vacek’s work in Web Services is behind-the-scenes, but as a self-described extrovert, she enjoys planning events and programs that bring students to UH Libraries. Through the Libraries’ microgrant program, Vacek has spearheaded a number of interactive events that allow users to explore the Libraries’ programs and services in unconventional ways, fostering collaboration and engaging new users. “I like doing events because it allows me to interact with our users to get a better sense of how they’re using the library,” Vacek noted. Past successful initiatives include the Cougar Social Media Showcase, the Mobile Walking Tour, and Game On, Cougars!
Vacek’s focus on the connections between technology and collaboration will continue to enhance the user’s experience for learning and research. “The ‘library of the future’ will definitely have more services online, but also more opportunities to interact with people,” Vacek said. “I see libraries as social places where web services can really add value and enrich the user experience. I’m excited to be a part of that.”
University of Houston students and faculty of communication, sociology and anthropology have a new liaison librarian for learning and research excellence.
Wenli Gao recently joined UH Libraries Liaison Services to provide guidance and service in collection development, instruction, research support and outreach.
To meet the information resource needs of students and faculty, Gao will assess current collections and facilitate the acquisition of new materials. Gao will also provide specialized instructional sessions that introduce students to a wide array of information and reference resources available at UH Libraries, with an emphasis on upper-level undergraduate and graduate instruction.
Gao will also provide substantial support to researchers in the communication, sociology and anthropology fields, and will form partnerships with members of the UH community to facilitate new and ongoing initiatives in teaching and research success.
The festival holds a vibrant history all its own. Interrupted by World War II, reestablished in 1946 through 1959, revived in 1992 and continuing today, the event takes place each spring on the UH campus.
Fueled by student talent and leadership, Frontier Fiesta is a testament to the rich traditions passed down from one generation of Cougars to the next. It continues to be a major fundraising vehicle for scholarships and programs.
“The event celebrates UH student life, and shows the philanthropic work of students,” said Mary Manning ’98, university archivist and curator of the Frontier Fiesta exhibit. “It says that we are a culture that appreciates its traditions.”
The exhibit evokes the spirit of the festival, drawn from the University Archives collection of ephemera from “the greatest college show on earth,” as it was once dubbed by Life magazine in the early 1950s.
The public is invited to an opening reception for the Frontier Fiesta: “The Greatest College Show on Earth” exhibit on Tuesday, March 18 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the MD Anderson Library near Special Collections (second floor). The program will feature a talk by distinguished alumnus Welcome Wilson Sr., as well as guided tours led by exhibit curator, Mary Manning.
The exhibit runs from March 18 – June 6, 2014 in the MD Anderson Library.