Well, the Winter Break came and went (far too quickly, as expected), and now I’m right back in the swing of things, and busier than ever.
This semester, I’m taking Archives Enterprise I, which I already love and wish I could’ve gotten into last semester. I look forward to learning some hands-on archival skills and working on a semester-long collection processing assignment at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. I haven’t actually visited since their renovation, so I’m really curious to see how the place looks these days and take a peek at how patrons and visitors are using the space and collections. Since I used to work at the Capitol for the State Preservation Board in my greener days, it will be really nice to walk through the grounds every week and contribute to the preservation of a small piece of Texas History.
Speaking of which, there is no way I am going to miss Dr. Gracy’s Littlefield Lectures in February! Especially “‘It Is But Just to the Cause’: George W. Littlefield, Patriotic Memory, and the Littlefield Fund for Southern History.” I’m really interested in this stuff, especially the history of Confederate monuments and memorials, particularly on the UT campus (many, if not most, of which were funded by Littlefield) and the subsequent history of the campus community “talking back” to these official pieces of public history through illicit speech, aka graffiti. I’ll be submitting an article on this topic for journal publication this year.
I’m also taking another iSchool core course, Information in Social and Cultural Context, which I like very much, as most of the readings are from the social sciences; and Issues in Museum Studies, an Art History course that is the required for the Portfolio in Museum Studies. I’m pretty excited about this class, too, as it involves theoretical reading and thinking, as well as visits to a diverse array of Austin-area museums, where we will meet museum professionals. I find it hard to believe that after nearly 17 years in Austin and several years working as a tour guide, there are still museums I haven’t visited! The Elisabet Ney, George Washington Carver, and French Legation come to mind immediately.
My work with the Texas Observer Digitization Project and United States Holocaust Museum World Memory Project continues, and I’m also looking forward to getting more involved in the Society of American Archivists – UT Chapter this semester, since the meetings don’t conflict with my class schedule. I’m auditing my friend Matthew Rabatin’s course, World War II and Antifascism in Italian Film. I’m also going to try to make it to more Tavola meetings this semester (we’ll see how that goes… Friday afternoons, you know?).
I’ve finally made time to update my food blog, which I hope to do more often this semester, and I’m also serving on the planning committee for the upcoming Austin Food Blogger Alliance conference. And speaking of graffiti, I’m working on migrating my graffiti blog to a new domain and relaunching it as a digital archive to professional standards. I can’t commit to dates on this, but it’s a goal!
If you haven’t heard about the College of Natural Science budget cuts that threaten to essentially defund the Texas Memorial Museum, please sign the new online petition. Here is some background information. The Texas Memorial Museum is essentially Austin’s natural history museum. They provide invaluable support to Texas educators, especially K-12 science teachers, furthering science education in the state, including the teaching of evolution. From the Austin Chronicle’s November 2013 report on the planned budget cuts:
The museum and its staff put significant emphasis on their educational programs and outreach, annually training more than 350 educators, who in turn teach some 20,000 students each year. They also create curriculum guides for teachers touring the museum with their students. And through a program called Museum Express, the staff visits area classrooms, presents fossils and rocks, and discusses geology and biology with students.
The museum also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, such as Darwin Day (celebrating Charles Darwin’s birthday) and Fright, a Halloween event that this year attracted 2,000 visitors. The museum plans to continue current programs and events to the extent possible, until the budget cuts actually take effect. However, Theriot notes, “We’re certainly not starting any new programs.”
Hope everyone’s 2014 is off to a good start!