Frank Lloyd Wright Archival Materials Continue to Build

In 1909, American architect Frank Lloyd Wright produced Ausgeführte Bauten Entwürfe von Frank Lloyd Wright, a folio of 100 plates published by German architectural publisher Ernst Wasmuth.

The Special Collections at the Architecture and Planning Library hold several versions of the work– from an original 1911 edition to multiple copies of the 1963 American edition, Buildings: Plans and Designs, published by Horizon Press. The work includes detailed drawings of Wright’s commissions up to 1910, illustrating his early architectural style.

The Wasmuth portfolio, as it is now commonly known, contains plans, sections, perspective views and interior details of seventy-three of Wright’s buildings, including Frank Lloyd Wright’s Studio (1895), Unity Temple (1906) and the Robie House (1909) in Oak Park, Illinois, and the Larkin Company Administration Building in Buffalo, New York (1904).

The Special Collections at the Architecture and Planning Library contain materials that are fragile, rare and historically significant. Many resources on Frank Lloyd Wright have come to the library’s Special Collections through gifts to the Alexander Architectural Archive. One of the copies of Buildings: Plans and Designs came to the library through the Edward Duke Squibb Collection.

Architect Karl Kamrath’s 2007 donation of more than 200 books and periodicals greatly increased the Architecture and Planning Library’s holdings on Frank Lloyd Wright. It recently acquired the manuscript collection of Frank Lloyd Wright scholar, William A. Storrer. Copies of his publications on Wright include: The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright: A Complete Catalog (1973), The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright: A Guide to Extant Structures (1980), and The Frank Lloyd Wright Companion (1993).

The archives are the largest such resource in Texas, containing more than a quarter of a million drawings and more than 1630 linear feet of papers, photographic material, models and ephemera, representing thousands of projects in Texas as well as New York, Chicago, California and Great Britain. Wright related materials are included in the Queen Ferry Coonley, the Karl Kamrath, the William A. Storrer and the Edward Duke Squibb Collections.

Written by Katheryn Pierce, Graduate Student in Architectural History at The University of Texas at Austin.

What's on your Nightstand, Fred Heath?

Fred Heath became Vice Provost and Director of the University of Texas Libraries in 2003.

Six years later, the Libraries have become a proving ground for numerous technology initiatives, from a digitization project with Google Books, the recent launch of its Institutional Repository and the steady transformation of spaces to meet the needs of modern connectivity to almost constant Web 2.0 interactivity trials.

Yet despite these moves away from a traditional library archetype, Heath still finds joy in the centrality of the book in teaching, learning, and research.

Read on as Heath provides a peek onto his nightstand.

Nine books crowd my nightstand, each competing for reading time, some attempting to persuade me they are light enough in argument or heft to warrant a niche in my briefcase for the next airplane round trip and overnight hotel stay. Others are content to wait in queue at bedside. More books camp out on my desk at work, or adjacent conference table. Each has commanded their own fair share of reading time, but may lack the breadth of appeal to earn the attention of readers outside the library profession. To those books a silent salute. You know who you are.

In aggregate, these nine volumes atop my nightstand permit some interesting observations about the book trade, trends in publishing and the libraries at the University of Texas. From bookshelf to the world wide web, things are changing. All of the books, save one, are available in the main campus library, Perry Castañeda; the missing volume can be found at Austin Public Library. All but one of the volumes can be purchased, used, for far less than the initial purchase price. The book that eludes purchase can be read on the world wide web for free, and most are now downloadable on the Amazon e-reader, Kindle.

Calling All Heroes: A Manual for Taking Power” (Plover Press, 1990) By Paco Ignacio Taibo II, Ruth M. de Aguilar, Translated by Ruth M. de Aguilar

The global fascination with the American presidential election and the tumultuous economic times confronting a youthful president with a message of hope and change led me to a re-read of this hard-to-find small novel by Paco Taibo. “Calling All Heroes” is a tale of crushed idealism following the bloody suppression of student demonstrations in La Plaza de las Tres Culturas at Tlatelolco, Mexico City, October, 1968. The story is told through the eyes of a young reporter, Nestor, himself wounded and the object of police investigation as the government tightens its noose around the students. Near death and in delirium, the reporter summons the literary heroes of his youth to the struggle. Against the odds, Sherlock Holmes, the Light Brigade, Doc Holliday and others struggle to reverse the currents of contemporary Mexican history. First published in 1982.

Descartes’ Bones: A Skeletal History of the Conflict Between Faith and Reason” (Random House, Inc., 2008) By Russell Shorto

Descartes’ Bones” is an entertaining jaunt through 350 years of European intellectual history, told through the audacious assertion cogito ergo sum and the disgraced philosopher who uttered those iconic words. Shorto’s blithe treatment of the little known facts of the indignities suffered by the physical remains of the French philosopher Rene Descartes is a fascinating journey through history. Deprived of patronage and public support by the reactions to the publication in 1637 of “Discourse on Method” which in fewer than one hundred pages declared the ascendency of reason over faith, Descartes died embittered and estranged in Stockholm in 1650. A few years later, his remains were returned to his homeland. Or were they? A forensic investigation and compelling review of European history through the eyes of Descartes, the Catholic Church, rivals such as Blaise Pascal, and voices within revolutionary and Napoleonic France are compellingly recounted. A beautifully written book suitable for airplane or nightstand.

Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda
(Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2005) By Roméo Dallaire, Brent Beardsley

Documentation of human rights violations is a core focus of the University of Texas Library. This visceral, heart-rending testimony of a Canadian military man caught up in the vortex of the Rwandan genocide in 1994 explains perhaps better than any single volume why vigilance in documentation is essential. Dallaire’s book is imperfect, ghost-ridden in part. And, as many of us are, he is an imperfect man: mediocre in school, brave in battle, suicidal in war’s aftermath. Why do I admire him so? Perhaps it is because of the cowardice of an American administration still stinging from the disgrace of Blackhawk Down, whose President does not allow his U.N. envoy to acknowledge the term “genocide,” a permission that would compel the U.S. to act. Perhaps it is because he and a handful of African stalwart troops struggle in the face of an inept United Nations whose inaction condemned a people to slaughter. And perhaps it is because this brave French Canadian fought on while France unabashedly sought to shore up a Hutu government responsible for slaughter. A must read.

Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda” (International Federation of Human Rights, 1999) By Alison Des Forges and others. Human Rights Watch.

I never met Alison Des Forges. I never will; she was among the passengers who died tragically in the Buffalo commuter crash at the beginning of the year. Yet, I raise a glass to this woman, who stands at the intersection of advocacy and academics in the field of human rights.

Her book, “Leave None to Tell the Story,” assigns to the waste can the Western apologia for inaction in a time of genocide – the assertion that the massacre was “just” a tribal fratricide which did not warrant American or European investment. Read this book. Alison des Forges documents clearly the reality of genocide, the complicity of the West, including the U.S., France, and the United Nations, and the collateral damage that results when a victorious insurgency exacts its own revenge.

This is a big book, not to be taken on the airplane. But you can find it in our libraries and you can read it online courtesy of Human Rights Watch.

The Rebels’ Hour” (Grove Press, 2008) By Lieve Joris, Liz Waters
Translated by Liz Waters

I have not read this book. Yet. The UT Libraries copy is in circulation, and my vendor book order has not yet arrived. But I will read it next. For this novel is about the unrest that now prevails in the Congo, home to a vast migration of Hutus following the Rwanda genocide, the failure of the Hutu government, and the successful Tutsi insurgency. “The Rebels’ Hour,” is written by Lieve Joris, another of the renowned journalists drawn to this dark chapter in man’s inhumanity. The complex character at the center of the story may well be Laurent Nkunda, the rebel Tutsi leader now under house arrest in Rwanda.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier” (HarperCollins Publishers Limited, 2007) By Ishmael Beah

Ishmael Beah’s memoir is not about the Grands Lacs area of Africa, but it could just as well be. Rather Beah paints a grisly and unforgettable story of a child soldier for whom the life of an insurgent in a ragtag uniform is the only means of survival in a chaotic Sierra Leone where war destroys his village and his family. There is a history to this conflict involving Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, including the diamond mines in the latter. But Beah paints a literary picture of carnage that just as easily involve coltan in the Congo or oil sands in Darfur. The rescue of Beah at Western hands provides compelling contrast to the Rambo moves that choreograph his and other child soldiers as they wantonly reduce village after village to flames.

To the Linksland: A Golfing Adventure” (Viking, 1992) By Michael Bamberger

This is my sports favorite book, an annual holiday read as spring beckons around the corner. Golf is perhaps the only spectator sport in which the mere mortal can participate alongside his hero, merely by hooking a bag and caddying 18 holes. Michael Bamberger took this fantasy much further, quitting his job in 1991 as a sportswriter, and journeying across the Atlantic to carry the bag of Peter Teravainen from France’s St. Raphael to the Scottish Open in Auchtertarder. Peter himself is a remarkable character whose Massachusetts origins belie his Finnish name, and whose Singaporean residence and embrace of Buddhism only add to the mystique. Teravainen succeeded in making a living on the European golf tour, earning almost 120,000 pounds for the season. Bamberger was on his bag, sometimes riding the caddy bus between tour stops to save on expenses.

Bamberger breaks with Tervavainen after the Scottish Open to achieve his own golfing nirvana with an outing on a little known six-hole course maintained by shepherds at Machrihanish. Golf writing and winter escapism at its best.

The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game” (W.W. Norton, 2007) By Michael M. Lewis

My wife, Jean, stumbled across this sports book on a list, perhaps here – someone’s favorite about American sport. And I am glad she did. “The Blind Side” is another fine contribution to sports journalism, recording the journey of a phenomenal African-American athlete from the poverty of the Memphis tenements to starting left tackle at the University of Mississippi and the prospect of a secure future in the National Football League.

In keeping with the best of sports journalism, this book is partly about the sport itself, and the evolution of the NFL passing game that placed a premium on gigantic, nimble, left tackles who could protect slow-footed quarterbacks from the ravages of an all-out pass rush. It is also about a larger than life sports personality, a 330-pound athlete who could stuff a basketball as easily as an opposing lineman. Enter Michael Oher, now eligible for the NFL draft as a likely first-rounder, whose foster African-American family improbably engineered his acceptance at Memphis’ conservative Briarcrest Christian School, to his equally improbable adoption by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, wealthy franchisers and graduates of the University of Mississippi. Their daughter and a beloved tutor accompanied Michael to Ole Miss, as did his high school coach. All become part of a well-written tale, sympathetically told.

The Punch: One Night, Two Lives, and the Fight that Changed Basketball Forever” (Little Brown & Company, 2003) By John Feinstein

John Feinstein is another accomplished sport journalist whose best works typically take the reader back to the golf course. “Good Walk Spoiled” and “Tales from Tour School” are outstanding examples of the genre. But this book, which spent a few weeks on the New York Times bestseller list is about a winter sport—basketball. “The Punch” addresses a single split second in the annals of NBA basketball that changed the lives and fortunes of two professional athletes forever. One night in 1977, Kermit Washington of the L.A. Lakers dropped all-star forward Rudy Tomjanovich of the Houston Rockets to the court floor with a devastating blow that left him on the brink of death from brain injury.

Around this singular act of violence, Feinstein chronicles the lives of two individuals as they repair the damage to their personal and professional lives as well as a sports league as it examines the negligence that contributed to the act.

Alumnus Offers "Color" Commentary on Writing for Kids

Chris Barton is a University of Texas alumnus and Austin-based children’s literature author who will be previewing his book The Day-Glo Brothers as part of the University of Texas Libraries’ “Books for Kids” program on March 7.

In addition to writing fiction and nonfiction for young readers, Barton has blogged at Bartography for the past four years.

The Day-Glo Brothers is being published by Charlesbridge Publishing and is set for release this summer.

Barton took some time out of his schedule to provide a peek into his influences, motivations and craft.

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As an alumnus of the University, do you have any fond memories of your time as a student you’d like to share?

Chris Barton: I graduated in 1993 with a B.A. in history, but what brought me to UT was the opportunity to work for The Daily Texan. Seriously – because of the Texan, which I discovered while visiting the campus while a sophomore in high school, UT was the only college I applied to, and I’ve never regretted it. My fondest memories are of the camaraderie I shared with other student writers, not just in the Texan basement, but also in Professor John Trimble’s English 325M expository writing class, and with the writer and fact checker I married 13 days after I graduated.

When did you discover your love for writing?

CB: As early as elementary school, I was writing stories and scripts and comic strips, a lot of times collaborating with one of my friends. All the way through middle school and high school, I’d team up with someone on parodies of this and that – Howard Cosell, superheroes, Dallas. I think my favorite was our mashup of Three’s Company and Sophocles, called Janetigone. And in high school I started writing for the student newspaper, and that really got me going down the path of writing for a living in one fashion or another.

You’ve written for a much different audience in the past. What made you take up youth literature?

CB: Well, I spent most of my 20s knowing I wanted to write something, but not really having a clue what subject interested me, or which audience, or even which medium. So, I was that much more open to inspiration, whenever and however it happened to strike. And it struck in the form of my near-two-year-old asking me over and over to tell him the story of how I had installed a smoke alarm, complete with drill sounds and alarm sounds. I still remember the morning I realized that if I could make him happy with that story, maybe there were others…

What are the differences you’ve come to realize between writing for an adult audience and writing for kids?

CB: I have a nonfiction book on the way for a teenage audience, and the differences there aren’t as stark, but definitely in the case of picture-book nonfiction like The Day-Glo Brothers, you can’t make the same assumptions about what a reader is likely to already know as you can with an adult reader. For an adult audience, in writing about daylight fluorescent colors, I could have just said, “Andy Warhol used them,” but in my book I had to provide at least a little context: “Artist Andy Warhol used them in his famous paintings.” That adds to the word count, of course, which is another big difference where picture books are concerned. It’s as much a visual medium as a textual medium, and big blocks of text don’t work so well visually. It took me a while to figure that out – my early drafts were over 6,000 words long, with lots of tangents, but the final book is much more streamlined, and closer to 2,000 words. And that’s still pretty long by picture-book standards.

How did you come up with the concept for The Day-Glo Brothers, and what about this subject did you feel would appeal to the younger audience?

CB: I had seen Bob Switzer’s obituary in The New York Times in 1997, and the story of how he and his brother had invented daylight fluorescent colors had these unlikely elements – a magic act and a terrible accident involving ketchup bottles – that made it unforgettable. It was another three years before I started writing for children, but when I did, the Switzers’ story stuck with me, and all I could think of was how cool a picture book printed with those colors would look. The day my publisher sent me the first pages printed with Day-Glo ink, I knew I’d been right.

Now that you’ve got the first book pretty much squared away, what plans do you have for the future?

CB: To keep writing. I’ve got another picture book – a completely silly one – coming from Little, Brown next year, and the year after that Dial will publish my young adult nonfiction book about impostors and others who faked their identities. In between revising those and supporting The Day-Glo Brothers, though, I’ve got several nonfiction ideas I want to pursue. I’ve done lots of my previous research at the PCL, and I suspect I’ll be spending quite a bit more time there in the months ahead.
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“Books for Kids,” will feature Chris Barton and area authors Brian Anderson, Jane Peddicord and Liz Scanlon providing readings and presentations of their work as an extension of The University of Texas’ “Explore UT.” For more information and a complete schedule, visit http://www.lib.utexas.edu/books4kids.html.

Amazing Rare Maps in the Benson Collection

In 1577, Spain’s King Phillip II ordered a comprehensive survey of the New World. Questionnaires sent to Spain’s territories in the Americas requested information about population, languages, terrain and vegetation.

Of the more than 200 hand-drawn responses, called the relaciones geográficas, one-fifth reside in the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection at The University of Texas at Austin. The relaciones geográficas are just a few of the many priceless artifacts acquired by the library since its establishment in 1926.

Today, the Benson Collection is the largest university library of Latin American materials in North America, attracting scholars and visitors from around the world and providing essential support to the research and teaching of the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies.

The collection’s curators acquire and provide access to materials on Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and the Hispanic presence in the United States.

The delicate condition of the centuries-old maps means they are not publicly displayed, but the helpful staff of the Benson library will show them to interested visitors. Just head to the rare books section and ask to see the relaciones geográficas.

Several images of the maps are also available online.

Critique This Book: Longhorn Reviews

Although staff at UT Libraries don’t expect to see the death of the book in its traditional printed form anytime soon, they aren’t taking any chances. Staff members are constantly seeking new ways to integrate technology with long-standing library practices.

One new feature recently launched by the libraries is Longhorn Reviews, a Web 2.0 tool for the Library Catalog that allows users to submit reviews of titles housed at the university.

Matt Lisle, libraries information analyst and Longhorn Reviews project member, says user-generated reviews, a popular feature on commercial sites such as Amazon.com, have a natural home in the catalog.

“Our users appreciate their UT colleagues’ opinions on items that they’re browsing in the catalog,” Lisle says, citing a recent survey by Opinion Research Corporation that found 61 percent of respondents referenced reviews, blogs and other feedback before making purchase decisions.

Visitors to the online catalog can find reviews of items at the bottom of individual catalog records. If no review exists for the item, visitors are invited to submit one.

Longhorn Reviews complements other Web 2.0 features of the UT Libraries Web site, such as the embedded Google Book Search widget, LibraryThing tags and recommendations, and book cover images, all of which have been recently implemented to make the site more dynamic and interactive.

Littlefield Fund Brings Back War Between the States

A century and a half after the American Civil War, UT Libraries are involved in publishing a massive new history of the event that is scheduled to take almost twice as long as the fighting itself.

“The Littlefield History of the Civil War Era” is a 16-volume series covering the entire scope of the conflict–the prelude to the postscript–published by the University of North Carolina Press and funded by the Littlefield Fund for Southern History at the UT Libraries.

Featuring a bevy of heavy hitters in the field–including series editors Gary Gallagher and T. Michael Parrish–the editions in the series will be published between now and 2015 at the rate of two per year, beginning with a volume by Temple Professor of History Elizabeth Varon.

Dr. Varon will present a lecture on “Disunion! The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789–1859,” and engage her colleagues–including Gallagher and Parrish–in a panel discussion about the series at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center next Tuesday, Nov. 18 at 3:30 pm.

The event is free and open to the public, with a reception to follow. Co-sponsors include the Center for American History and the Department of History.