Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Message from UNL Libraries about systemic racism, violence, and the role of libraries

The following is a statement from the Dean and senior administrative team of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries to its employees.  


Dear colleagues,

We are sad and angry about George Floyd's death last week at the hands of a member of the Minneapolis Police Department. Our communities, outraged at this unconscionable act of brutality, have responded, expressing their anguish in numerous ways, including many forms of peaceful protest. Sadly, as you know, there have also been significant outbreaks of violence. 

In Lincoln, over the last week, swastikas have been painted in Wilderness Park, in a place of retreat and refuge for many during pandemic restrictions, reminding us of the virulent presence of supremacist thinking, actions, and systems.  During a 2018 rally, UNL faculty, students, and staff gathered to support "Hate Will Never Win" in our community and we must remember to continue to uphold that commitment now. With events like these, which have happened too often and all across the country, we are reminded how much work there is left to do to dismantle the systemic injustices of our society. This obligation falls heaviest on those of us who have not lived the experience that Indigenous peoples, communities of color, and religious and ethnic minoritized communities have. This is and will be hard, challenging work, but it is critical that we engage in it. 

We believe that libraries, and all of the people who work in them, are an essential part of the solution to creating a more just and equitable society. Although we are not without flaws, and must grapple with our own failings and examples of systemic racism, at its best our profession rests on bedrock principles of inclusion and information justice. These principles must guide us now. 

We are engaged in a strategic planning process that gives us an important opportunity to reflect and to direct our energy and our financial resources, in whatever ways that we can, to create lasting change.  We will be looking for opportunities to accelerate and amplify this work, and we invite our entire organization to bring your ideas and your energy to it. We also challenge all of us individually and collectively to examine all of our information work through a lens of equity and justice, asking ourselves: 

  • How does this activity contribute to equity and justice? 
  • Where does this activity stand in the way or present barriers to equity and justice? 
  • How do we carry this work forward, not only following major events, but every person, every day, persistently? 
Individually, we can each also ask similar questions:  

  • How can I contribute to equity and justice? 
  • How can I have a conversation about these issues to hear others' perspectives?  
  • What can I do to help?  
It will take the effort of every one of us to make real and lasting change, and we are deeply committed to our collective work towards this important goal.


UNL Libraries Dean's Cabinet:

  • Liz Lorang, Interim Associate Dean
  • Charlene Maxey-Harris, Interim Associate Dean and Interim Chair, Discovery & Resource Management
  • Deb Pearson, Interim Chair of Access Services and Head, Libraries Facilities and Planning
  • Kay Richter, Business Officer and Chief Operating Officer
  • Claire Stewart, Dean of Libraries
  • Kay Walter, Chair, Digital Initiatives and Special Collections

Friday, April 24, 2020

Willa Cather Students learn through hands-on experiences

By Caitlin Steiner
Notable author and UNL alum Willa Cather, well-known for classic novels like My Antonia and Death Comes for the Archbishop, lives on past her stories as several students study her work and improve their education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Both undergraduate and graduate students alike work with the Complete Letters of Willa Cather as they complete their studies, a project supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitally edit and publish all of the writer’s letters.  
Gayle Rocz
Senior English and Dance student, Gayle Rocz, works as a UCARE student with the project. “I like reading Cather’s letters,” said Rocz. “They are really funny sometimes because she has a very unique personality and it's been cool getting to know her through her letters. It’s a different way of getting to know an author as opposed to reading her published works.” 
The students’ main job is to work on encoding Willa Cather’s letters in TEI XML, a technology that preserves all kinds of information about each letter along with its words, such as when and where the letter was written and all of the people, places, and works referenced in each document. 
Simone Droge
Senior English and History major, Simone Droge is another UCARE student working on the project. “One of my favorite moments was getting to actually see an original Cather letter for the first time,” Droge said. “I had been working with the letters for a few months at that point, but you suddenly realize the importance because she was this highly esteemed author, and the fact that we get to be doing this work is really special.”
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln aims to help students succeed in their studies. Through their work, students are able to gain hands-on experience to enhance their futures. 
Freshman English major, Shea Cortez, works as a FYRE research assistant on the project. “I want to go into literature and translation, so I really think that working with the Cather archive is a good foundation for the literature side of things,” said Cortez. “I have been able to have insight of Cather as more than just a writer as well as her writing style through her novels and letters.”
The students all expressed getting to know Willa Cather’s personality better through her letters. In reading her personal letters as opposed to just her published works, Cather comes alive as a real person and not just an esteemed author. 
Hannah Kanninen
Second-year English master’s student Hannah Kanninen works in the Archives. “I found one [letter] where she just learned about the Titanic,” said Kanninen. “She was in New Mexico and she actually knew someone who was on it and didn’t make it. It's that sort of thing that makes those events real for you.”  

The team works together on the project and has enjoyed getting to know one another while doing so. 
Paul Grosskopf
Second-year English Ph.D. student Paul Grosskopf works for the English Department with the letters. “The people I work with are great. It's a relatively small team and we work together a lot throughout the week,” said Grosskopf. “Getting to do this collaborative work and feel like you are a part of a team working on a bigger team is very cool.” 
“The work the students do is fundamental to the project’s success,” says Professor Andrew Jewell of UNL Libraries and one of the editors of the Complete Letters, “and I’m honored that they give so much of their time and talent to the project. We are building something together that will be a central resource for understanding Willa Cather for many years to come, and it is right that students at her alma mater are key contributors to that resource.”



Thursday, April 23, 2020

Libraries Faculty Receive Center for Transformative Teaching Seeding Student Success Award


Catherine Fraser Riehle, Erica DeFrain, and Debbie Minter from University Libraries and English received an inaugural Seeding Student Success funding award from the Center for Transformative Teaching (CTT) for their project — “Writing Information Literacy: A Collaborative Effort to Support Intentional Integration of Information Literacy at the Foundation.”

In this year-long project, Riehle, DeFrain, and Janel Simons from the Libraries are collaborating with English Professor and First-Year Writing Program coordinator Debbie Minter and Writing Center Director Rachel Azima on a project to integrate information literacy into foundational writing courses. Funds will be used to support an inquiry group of 11 Writing Information Literacy Fellows who will develop instructional resources that they will pilot in multiple sections of composition courses in fall 2020. They will conduct a research project in the fall to assess the pilot.

Friday, April 3, 2020

HathiTrust Provides Emergency Temporary Access to Half of UNL’s Book Collection


The COVID-19 crisis has made the collections of many research libraries around the United States physically inaccessible, including the more than 3 million volumes in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries and the Marvin and Virginia Schmid Law Library. Fortunately the HathiTrust Digital Library, a digital repository that provides long-term preservation and access services for millions of books and journals digitized from its member libraries’ collections, has granted UNL Libraries emergency, expanded temporary access to materials in its collection. Now UNL students, faculty and staff will have full-text access to 50 percent of UNL Libraries’ collection digitally, including those materials that are copyright protected.

The UNL Libraries, a longstanding member of the HathiTrust community, was one of 110 libraries that applied for the Emergency Temporary Access Service (ETAS). Claire Stewart, Dean of Libraries, and Casey Hoeve, Associate Professor and Head of Content & Collections, worked on the ETAS application on UNL’s behalf.  

I know how frustrating this is for our faculty and students to not have access to physical materials,” explained Stewart, “that is why we are excited to announce that the HathiTrust Digital Library is temporarily expanding access for our users during this emergency and at least half our collection will be available online.

The main features of the emergency access are:

        Continued access to the physical scholarly record — UNL’s print collection — via digital copies in HathiTrust.

        Reading access to books online, within a web browser (no full downloads).

        Ability to “check out” a copy for 60 minutes, with an auto-renew feature for books in active use, and with a maximum use time of 2 hours. Access to items is 1-1. For example, if we have two copies in our collection, two UNL users (faculty, staff, students) will be allowed concurrent access to the digital item in HathiTrust.

Since approval, Hoeve and others have developed a libguide that provides UNL faculty and students easy-to-follow login procedures and additional information about the HathiTrust Digital Library and ETAS. 

To search for HathiTrust (Expanded) online materials:
  • visit the HathiTrust digital library
  • click or tap LOG IN
  • select "University of Nebraska-Lincoln" from the drop-down menu
  • click or tap CONTINUE
You will be prompted to log in with your UNL Credentials.

The Libraries ASKus chat is open to assist anyone having trouble searching the digital library and staff at the Law Library can be reached at lawref@unl.edu.


Wednesday, February 26, 2020

CANCELLED -- 8th Annual HILT Training Conference

-- Due to COVID-19, this event has been cancelled.--
Center for Digital Research in the Humanities and UNL Libraries will be hosting the 8th annual HILT
training conference. HILT, Humanities Intensive Learning and Teaching, is a 4-day training institution
that will be held on UNL’s campus May 18th through the 21st. On May 22nd, conference attendees
are invited to join a day of special experiences including tours of the Sheldon Museum of Art,
Nebraska State Capitol Building, and Morrill Hall. 


The conference offers keynotes, ignite-styled talks, and local cultural heritage excursions. Attendees
will select one of nine courses to take during the conference. Course options include: 


  • Anti-Racist Feminist Digital Humanities
  • Critical Digital Curation: Taking Care of Black Women’s Material Culture
  • Getting Started with Data, Tools, and Platforms
  • Introduction to Text Encoding
  • Introduction to Web Development and Design Principles
  • Latinx Digital Praxis: From the Archive to the Digital
  • Spatial Analysis: Theory, Methods, and Applications
  • Teaching DH: Assignment, Syllabi, Curricula
  • Text Analysis Methods & Practice 


The HILT conference is open for researchers, students, early career scholars and cultural heritage
professionals who would like to learn more about Digital Humanities theory, practice, and culture.
Registration is now open and is due by May 1st. 


For more information and registration please visit: http://dhtraining.org/hilt/conferences/hilt-2020/