December 4, 2018
Our academic year started out with a bang, as a faulty plumbing repair on the floor above the stacks resulted in an evening flood with about 1,000 books getting wet and 2,000 books being moved. This was barely a week after Harvey tore into the Marine Sciences Library in Port Aransas, and emergency staff had just returned from stabilizing that facility. Thanks to the quick work of building staff and (exhausted) library emergency folks, no materials were completely lost, though a great deal of repair work was required.
Library storage facility No. 3 has opened, and we anticipate moving lesser used periodicals this year to make room for new materials and more space. The USGS geologic map series has been stored, since the majority are now available online, and with the assistance of James Galloway and staff sharing from the Chemistry Library, the entire map collection was shifted and relabeled. James is also helping
us reorganize our oversized and atlas shelving areas. Meanwhile, our gifts flow has been reduced, and we are slowly catching up with all pending materials on-site. Gifts are a slow, expensive undertaking, but many of our most unusual materials come from gifts,
ensuring they are not lost to research. With the passing of Dr. Peter Flawn, several collection managers reviewed his office collection and files. Materials went to the Walter Library, the Briscoe Center for American History and the Bureau of Economic Geology.
This year’s major purchases included Australian natural history materials, more quads of the China 1:250K
Geologic Atlas, and a number of new maps. Most commercial and university press monographs are now being acquired as e-books, so while collections access is growing online, growth of physical volumes has been reduced. Some really like the convenience, some find reading e books tedious and miss the serendipity of browsing the stacks. Many of our decisions are driven by economics, but we are working to find the right mix of technologies to keep researchers and readers happy.
Budgets are under heavy pressure, a national concern for research libraries. Federal libraries we used to depend on as a fallback, like the USGS Library network, are under even more crushing limitations if not outright decline. Increasingly academic libraries are forced to choose among people, technology and collections.
UT library’s efforts to develop a library Geographic Information System (GIS) portal are under way, and we hope to make our first milestones this coming year. Michael Shensky has joined the Libraries as our GIS coordinator, working out of Perry-Castañeda Library.
In other e-services news, we have added more than 75 legacy theses to our online repository and many are getting heavy use. We are on track to have everything prior to 1934 completed this summer, and this past year we have received permission to do many of Dr. Jack Sharp’s students’ theses, thanks to an appeal from him. This year we have also added undergraduate honors theses to the repository, which we hope will be a growing trend. This year we are also beginning a pilot project with the Vertebrate Paleontology Lab to digitize a small number of their Work Projects Administration surveys. You can visit the open ScholarWorks repository at repositories.lib.utexas.edu.
Our social media presence is strong, with almost 850 people following our Facebook (you should too!). Nicola Tisato and the Graduate Student Executive Committee (GSEC) have been sponsoring a morning coffee break on Mondays called ROKAFE, which provides a social crossroads and helps GSEC raise funding. It’s a good crowd if you like to talk about geology! We also sponsored the new grad student pizza lunch during orientation.
There is a lot of buzz about open access. For many, this movement opens new information resources and new readership, but there have been unintended consequences. In some cases, this has resulted in lower quality, shady reviewing and acceptance policies, reduced stability and reliability, and increases in retractions. As the flow of information increases from more diverse sources, discovery and archival access
become serious concerns. It will take time to stabilize, and in the meantime, we will have to be vigilant.
In staff news, Stacy Ogilvie is working on several website projects, most especially the sprawling geoscience thesis index, which we hope to have in a single searchable file soon. She continues to work with the map catalogers to bring us up to date on map processing. Six student
workers graduated this year after many semesters of service with us: Katy Lucas, Brianna Cooley, McKenna Magnuson, Soyoung Lee, Heather Maldonado and Elizabeth Menezes. We wish them well in their future endeavors. This year’s winners of the Guion Service Award were recognized for their extra efforts in the flood recovery: Janeice Connors, Bill Gannon, Matt McGuire, Joey Marez and Chris Stella.
I presented on library and information topics to GEO 298T, a graduate course on teaching methods. I have also taken over as subject
librarian for Petroleum Engineering and Geography, with the loss or retirement of other staff. I attended the Geological Society of America meeting in Seattle and continue to serve as chair of the American Geosciences Institute GeoRef advisory committee. Deep resources like GeoRef are essential to research, but can be a hard sell against the convenience of search engines, which are neither complete, wellindexed, nor fully reliable.