Walter Geology Library 2018–19 Annual Report
December 4, 2019
This year’s big event came late last summer, when we were contacted by members of the local caving community to review the library of Bill Mixon. Bill, who has since passed away, was a long time collector of caving materials, and the book review editor for the National Speleological Society. His library was a treasure of international, national and regional scope. Over a compressed period of time last summer, we reviewed the materials, finding over 1,000 books and another 1,000 periodical issues that represented new materials for our already strong cave and karst collections. Large gifts put a strain on our current staffing levels, but as this year closes, with concerted efforts by our student workers and processing staff, this extraordinary collection is almost all available. Since about one-third of the material is only owned here, and due to the non-commercial nature of many caving publications, we are already seeing interlibrary loan requests. We are profoundly grateful to Bill and the Austin caving community for their partnership and generosity.
All that new material creates space issues, and with Library Storage facility #3 open, we have begun transferring a great deal of little used material and material replaced by online access to storage. We are also creating space to take down some shelving in the area where we have had repeated water incursions to reduce risk. This will also create another quiet study area.
This year’s major purchases included more quads of the China 1:250K Geologic Atlas, a number of new maps from Germany, and several globes — Mars topography, world geology, and three paleogeography globes from various eras. Based on strong performance, we have renewed our access to EarthDoc, the full-text online database of EAGE publications, covering a broad spectrum of earth science topics. We have also signed a site license to the Blakey Deep- Time Maps, but there have been some technical issues with finding a proper platform to serve up the third-party data that have delayed the usefulness of this acquisition. The convenience of digital resources sometimes masks their backoffice complexity.
UT Library’s efforts to develop a library GIS portal are bearing fruit. Michael Shensky, the Libraries GIS coordinator, has been working hard and is about to launch our portal after a year of infrastructure development. It will be modest initially, with hopes of advances over time. In other e-services news, we continue to add legacy theses to our online repository, averaging five per month. We completed a pilot project with the Vertebrate Paleontology Lab to digitize a small number of their WPA surveys. You can see them here: repositories.lib.utexas. edu/handle/2152/65659. The Jackson School continues to add materials to our Scholarworks repository, as well as our newer Texas Data Repository, adding more “open” materials for public access.
Our social media presence is strong, with more than 900 people following our Facebook page www.facebook.com/UTGeoLib (you should too!). Nicola Tisato and GSEC continue to sponsor ROKAFE, the Monday coffee klatch, in the library, and we continue to sponsor the new grad student pizza lunch during orientation. Inside the library space, the periodicals room near the entrance is almost emptied out as our subscriptions have mostly transitioned to digital access. We have added another white board, and we are currently using the space as a group study and conference area. There have been continuing discussions of converting that space by moving the gem and mineral displays upstairs where we can offer more space, better security, and more available open hours. Those discussions are getting more concrete as we investigate design and cost issues and look for funding, so watch this space!
In staff news, Stacy Ogilvie has transitioned to be the new cartographic materials cataloger at PCL, where she is working with all the map collections to reduce our processing backlog. James Galloway has taken her place as the Unit Manager, and is working on a number of projects to enhance operations. Melissa Van Ostran, long our night supervisor, has relocated as night supervisor at the new Engineering Library, and Alice Dewberry, after many years working half-time in the afternoons has decided to retire at the end of the summer. We thank Melissa, Alice and Stacy for their years of service. Aubrey Stark-Miller, previously of PCL and Course Management Services, has joined us working afternoons and evenings. Aubrey has been a great addition to our staff, and has spent her first few months learning our routines and settling in.
Three student workers graduated over the course of this year after many semesters of service with us: our GRA Birch Griesse, Yushan Li, and Stephen Scaglione. We wish them well in their future endeavors. This year’s winners of the Guion service award were recognized for their extra efforts in processing our new caving gift: Birch Griesse, Pamela Perez, Luisana Lopez and David Melanson. I presented on library and information topics to GEO 298T, and several courses, and continued to serve as chair of the AGI GeoRef advisory committee.
Dennis Trombatore, Librarian