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Director of Communications
Around The Library
University of Houston Special Collections recently welcomed Emily Vinson, audiovisual archivist, to the team. She will shepherd the audiovisual collection on its journey through acquisition, preservation and digitization.
Vinson’s primary focus is the digitization of select materials from the KUHT Collection, including securing intellectual control and prioritizing items for accessibility.
The KUHT Collection presents a unique set of opportunities. It contains, in part, nearly 1200 film reels and 600 boxes of videotapes, the specific contents of which are unknown. “As is often the case with archival audiovisual collections, labeling is minimal, if present at all, so there are going to be many mysteries in the collection,” Vinson said. “There’s no finding aid yet, so we’re going to have a lot of questions in how to move forward with those pieces of the collection.”
Vinson will cross-reference each film and videotape with available titles, and query physical records in the collection to determine which programs hold lasting value and as such, rise in priority for digitization.
Even for highly-skilled archivists like Vinson, evaluating old films is a tricky process. Many may have become too fragile, and there may be only one opportunity for a successful transfer.
The process begins with an inspection of the films and tapes to determine its condition. Cleaning may be necessary. The films are then sent to film transfer experts for digitization, with care taken to preserve the original, which is then returned to Special Collections.
Vinson notes that public broadcasting audiovisual archives offer a uniquely intimate view of a community, unmatched in other media. “I think people engage with AV materials in a way that they don’t necessarily engage with paper materials,” Vinson said. “The insights you get into a city and community via the public broadcasting world is really unique. You see aspects of the city’s history that don’t come through in other ways. It’s a really exciting way to learn about a place, and to understand what was important to people then.”
Vinson was inspired to pursue library school after a particular event. She had just graduated from Tulane University before Hurricane Katrina hit. She evacuated and when she returned to the art gallery on campus where she worked, she saw that the university library had flooded. In the midst of widespread catastrophe, water was being pumped out and library staff were planning to elevate materials to try and salvage as much as possible.
“People saw value in the collection and found the means to preserve it,” Vinson said. “I thought that was the most amazing thing I had ever heard of. I had spent so many hours in this library, so that’s when I decided I should go to library school.”
Vinson attended UT Austin and earned a Master of Science in Information Studies with advanced study in conservation of library and archival materials. She held a fellowship in preservation and administration at New York Public Library, and later, had a two-year grant-funded position at WNYC, working on digitizing public radio archives. Most recently, she was an archivist at Rice University’s Baker Institute.
Beyond audiovisual preservation, Vinson is an avid reader (Agatha Christie novels are her favorites) and viewer of Netflix. She also plays tennis and sews. And she is enjoying UH culture. “I’ve had a really fantastic impression of the University so far,” she said. “I love that it’s a diverse campus and it’s really active and thriving.”
John Lehner, associate dean of personnel, planning, and systems, has been selected as the inaugural recipient of the Ambassador Kenneth Franzheim II Endowed Library Professorship, effective April 1, 2015.
The Ambassador Kenneth Franzheim II Endowed Library Professorship was established to support a full time librarian in the MD Anderson Library at the University of Houston. The candidate must have exceeded the requirements to achieve the rank of full professor, or full librarian, and must be recognized as an individual who has advanced their discipline, who is regarded for leadership and whose opinions are highly respected.
“John Lehner’s appointment reflects his exceptional performance as a leader and a scholar in the field of librarianship,” said Dean of Libraries and Elizabeth D. Rockwell Chair Dana Rooks. “The majority of his library career has been focused on the critical area of human resource management and administration. He has achieved strong national recognition in this field through his leadership in the development of new practices and policies reflecting the rapid changes in employee expectations, legal requirements, and transformational organization needs which permeate today’s human resource arena.”
Lehner’s scholarship is widely noted for its careful analysis of the dynamic landscape of human resource administration. Professional library associations, such as the American Library Association/Association of College and Research Libraries, and research library consortia such as the Association of Research Libraries, frequently call upon Lehner’s knowledge in creating standards and guidelines, developing initiatives and enhancing programs in human resource endeavors. His areas of expertise range from diversity to executive leadership to workforce development.
Kenneth Franzheim II was a Houston oilman and philanthropist. He served as ambassador to New Zealand, Western Samoa, Tonga and Fiji from 1969 to 1972.
Franzheim was also a friend and supporter of the UH Libraries, with a strong belief in education and lifelong learning. His father was the prominent Houston architect whose best known building was the downtown Foley’s Department Store. Ambassador Franzheim generously donated his late father’s collection of rare architecture books to the William R. Jenkins Architecture and Art Library, and created a number of endowments for the preservation and expansion of the Architecture Library Special Collection, a fund to purchase materials in literature and the arts in honor of his daughters, and a generous gift to the building expansion and renovation.
The UH Libraries held a reception honoring Lehner this month at the MD Anderson Library Rockwell Pavilion.
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Thursday, March 12, 1:00 p.m.
MD Anderson Library, Room 10-F
The University of Houston Libraries is conducting a series of user studies for our upcoming web site redesign. We’re hoping you can help us by participating in one of the studies.
We will be interviewing UH undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty about how they do research and how they use the library. We will make arrangements to perform interviews at the location where you typically conduct research. The in-person interview will take about an hour and you will receive a $25 Amazon gift card for your time. You would also have the benefit of sharing what you like and dislike about our web site. All of this will help us improve the website and research experience for our users.
If you are interested in helping, take this brief screening survey. If you qualify, we will contact you to schedule an interview.