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Director of Communications
Around The Library
Lisa Cruces, Hispanic Collections archivist at the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections, has been awarded a scholarship to attend the 55th Annual Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) preconference, “Retrofit: Exploring Space, Place and the Artifact in Special Collections.”
This highly competitive scholarship has been offered to first-time RBMS preconference attendees since 2000. It is intended to promote attendance and participation by students, qualified paraprofessionals, early career librarians and librarians with limited professional development support; to introduce attendees to RBMS and ACRL; and to foster diversity in RBMS and the profession.
Cruces recently joined UH Libraries in the newly-created role of Hispanic Collections archivist to document the influence of Hispanic history and culture in Houston.
“I’m very thankful and thrilled to be the recipient of this financial award,” said Cruces. “Along with being eager to attend my first RBMS pre-conference, I’m especially drawn to this year’s metaphorical themes of space, place, and the artifact. I will strive to bring back knowledge and strategies for expanding our services to undergraduates and graduate students in archival research and engaging Hispanic members of the community in the representation of Houston history. Also as a new member of the archives profession recently arrived at a new institution, I’m excited to learn more from my peers across the country and share the great collections and projects happening at UH.”
Art history senior Catherine Gonzalez will graduate from the University of Houston this semester. Through her studies of the analysis of art and visual culture, Gonzalez was immersed in the abstract realm, yet she wanted to explore art’s practical, tangible side.
After her freshman year, she jumped into internships. Her curiosity was piqued during her curatorial internship at Austin’s Mexic-Arte Museum, where she encountered the visual art form known as the zine.
She noticed that her colleagues at the museum, including art historian and curator Claudia Zapata, were working on a zine called ChingoZine, which she helped to promote with friends and family.
What’s a zine? “It’s a little handmade book, and it could be anything from drawings to photography to poetry,” Gonzalez said. “A lot of people make them for fun, to distribute their work.” Zines combine thematic elements that represent ephemeral, creative concepts in a personalized package.
At UH, Gonzalez became involved with the William R. Jenkins Architecture and Art Library Ambassadors, a new student organization that promotes the library’s collections and services. The group organizes events and activities that highlight library resources, promotes student research, and integrates UH art disciplines. Each member of the Library Ambassadors receives advanced research training, enabling them to guide their fellow students on the use of library resources.
“The Jenkins Library Ambassadors facilitate how students can create a relationship with the library,” said Gonzalez, who wanted to give back to fellow students in her own way. She brainstormed ideas with the group: what would be a creative way to help UH students?
The idea for a DIY zine workshop emerged. Gonzalez sought advice from local business owners who regularly run creative workshops, and was also referred to artists from Zinefest Houston, who agreed to be the facilitators of the zine workshop at UH. Gonzalez approached the artists of Antena @ Blaffer, and they offered to share their space in the Saleri Studio and co-host the workshop.
Library ambassadors and students from painting, photography, interior design, architecture and graphic design participated, and the result was a collaborative zine, comprising collages created with content ranging from Art Forum to Japanese comic books to scuba diving publications.
Gonzalez organized the workshop through networking, a practical skill that is essential for success in life after college. She says that people are quite approachable if you just allow yourself to be open and find common ground. She gained confidence in crafting her own creative event at which students enjoyed themselves while learning how to harness inspiration.
After graduation, Gonzalez hopes to meet more artists in the industry. “I love the Houston arts scene,” she commented. “There are really unique institutions that have opportunities to either host or curate fantastic exhibitions.”
Gonzalez says that curators hold a unique place in organizing and showcasing the past and present in art form, and she wants to fulfill that role. “The world is so complicated,” she said. “We don’t really remember that there are things like slowing down and looking at a painting. The role of curating is essential for preserving what your culture is producing. I want to be the example of why art is important.”
University of Houston Libraries recognized its top-performing librarians and staff at an awards reception on April 23 at the Rockwell Pavilion. Dean Dana Rooks addressed the gathering with a message of appreciation for excellence in service, innovation and dedication shown by the Libraries’ exceptional group of professionals.
The Dean’s Library Advocate Award was presented to Cliff Redd, Associate Vice Chancellor for Advancement, and Kristin Burch, Executive Director for Alumni Relations, for their expertise in guiding the Libraries’ development efforts.
The Outstanding Group Award recognizes a group within the Libraries that has made an impactful contribution to its overall success. Rachel Vacek (chair), Nora Dethloff, Christina Gola, Vince Lee, Marilyn Myers, Shawn Vaillancourt and Frederick Young received this honor for their achievement in the development of the Libraries’ Strategic Directions.
The Digital Library Redesign Team received the Trailblazer Award for Leading Organizational Change, for their improvement of the functionality and look of the Digital Library. Members are Rachel Vacek, Sean Watkins, Chung Kang, Keith Komos and J Fisher.
The John P. McGovern Rookie of the Year Award recognizes a staff member who, though new to the organization, has demonstrated outstanding overall performance that shows he or she is becoming an important asset to the Libraries. This year’s winner is Santi Thompson.
The Student Achievement Award recognizes a student employee whose superior performance and accomplishments demonstrate that he or she is committed to carrying out the Libraries’ mission for UH. Bryan Bishop, a student employee in Special Collections, was chosen for this award. Catherine Gonzalez received the McGovern Outstanding Student Award for demonstrating leadership, knowledge and creativity in service for the Architecture and Art Library.
Pam Forbes was honored with the Staff Achievement Award for her integral role in the success of the Optometry Library, and especially for producing the 10th Edition of the Union List of Vision Related Serials, a resource used by institutions worldwide. Frederick Young received the Staff Achievement Award for his consistently high-quality initiative and creative problem-solving in Systems. The McGovern Outstanding Staff Award winner is Keith Komos, recognized for his seamless contributions to the critical resource of server infrastructure.
The Librarian Achievement Award recipients are Andrea Malone and Rachel Vacek. Both consistently demonstrate leadership in the profession and model values that inspire colleagues. Richard Guajardo received the McGovern Outstanding Librarian Award for forward-thinking organization and leadership, and the implementation of several large-scale projects that serve the UH community.
The University of Houston is abuzz with end-of-semester prep. Students are gearing up to finish strong, and the pressure to ace those finals can be overwhelming. A nuzzle from a furry friend can help.
Local organization Faithful Paws will bring certified therapy dogs to the MD Anderson Library for four days of stress relief this month. Students are encouraged to drop in for petting, snuggling and treat-feeding with these gentle and friendly canines, which can have a direct positive impact on well-being.
Research has shown that interaction with a dog has numerous physiological and mental health benefits, including the release of endorphins (oxytocin) which produces a calming effect, and increased feelings of comfort, motivation and socialization.
UH students have enjoyed Paws and Relax since its inception in Spring 2013, when librarians Kirsten Feist and Kelsey Brett proposed the plan that would help boost academic success through stress reduction.
“We had read about the astounding success of therapy dog programs at other college and university libraries, and wanted to provide a similar experience for the students at UH,” Feist said. “We were easily able to find partners and volunteers, with enthusiasm for the event growing each semester.”
Student engagement in the event has increased. In Spring 2013, over 1700 students visited with furry friends in the MD Anderson Library. In Fall 2013, that number grew to more than 2100.
Faithful Paws therapy dogs will be at MD Anderson Library, rooms 106T and 106P on the following dates:
April 28: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
April 29: 8:00 – 10:00 p.m. (concurrent with Finals Mania)
April 30: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
May 1: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Christie Peters, science research support librarian at the University of Houston Libraries, was recently elected to the Research and Scholarship Committee (RSC), a committee of the Faculty Senate.
The RSC serves as the advisory board for Rathindra Bose, Vice Chancellor/Vice President for research and technology transfer. The group formulates recommendations and policies that impact the UH research community.
Peters is the first UH librarian to serve on the committee in an official capacity. Having attended RSC meetings since 2010, Peters is well-positioned to represent the UH Libraries’ commitment and voice in research, a high-priority area of the University’s strategic principles.
“This important appointment will help the Libraries better respond to evolving needs of research faculty and students for collection resources, technical support, and data management associated with their research,” said Dana Rooks, dean of Libraries and Elizabeth D. Rockwell endowed chair.