State of the Union for the State of the Art: An Update from the Riley Digitization Center

They say life has only two constants: death and taxes. But sometimes “They” forget to add the other immutable law of the universe: change. In any system, there is no such thing as complete static, total immobility, immutability. There’s always some change at work, even if it’s on a molecular level, and given enough time, it will invariably impact everything it touches.

What’s true for the created universe is true for organizations, of course, and that’s why this post exists. In the past few months, there have been changes underway with the team that digitizes, preserves, promotes and provides access to the archival and library holdings of this university. Some are big, others small, but all of them share one common bond: they impact the ongoing work of the men and women who call (or, [spoiler alert] called) the Riley Digitization Center their home.

A New Name

First off, let’s address the most obvious change. The group formerly known as the Digital Projects Group is now the Digital Preservation Services group. The change was made to better reflect the action that is at the core of the work carried out by the DPS’s staff: preserving analog materials in a digital format for long-term access. This change was made during a rebrand of the former Electronic Library (now Library and Academic Technology Services or LATS) which took place last year. While the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections (which are created and maintained by the DPS) will keep their name for the time being, the DPS will be working to rebrand their online presence both on social media and on the Digital Collections site ( in the coming days and months.

New Faces in Familiar Places

The other big changes to the Group Formerly Known as the DPG involve personnel. For some time, Travis Taylor has been part of the DPS team, beginning as a graduate assistant, then a temporary employee and briefly in a dual-reporting position doing audiovisual digitization and monitoring and tracking usage statistics for the various systems administered by LATS. But some internal moves within the LATS structure allowed the DPS to add another full-time position to the team, and Travis has since moved into that spot to serve as a full-time audiovisual digitization specialist alongside long-time employee Stephen Bolech. He is working primarily with the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project’s analog discs but also assists with video digitization and is investigating systems for film digitization as well.

Partnering with the DPS team to take over usage statistics work – and assisting with digitization, quality control and other critical tasks – is Libby Shockley. Libby joined the Digital Library Services and Systems (working under Denyse Rodgers) after serving with the libraries as an Information Specialist in the Library Collections Services department. Libby will work closely with Allyson Riley, who continues in her role as Digitization Coordinator.

A Departure

The final staffing news of note involves our Curator of Digital Collections — me. After working with DPS director Darryl Stuhr for more than 12 years – first as the second (and only additional) full-time staffer and most recently as curator – I left the DPS for a position as Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications for the division of University Libraries and ITS. I am proud to report that my tenure as curator helped grow the Digital Collections from a handful of small collections to a robust repository of almost 500,000 items, including more than 3,000 items in the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project, a complete run of the Baylor “Lariat” (the campus newspaper) and more than 70 additional collections. My curation work, which included loading materials into Baylor’s CONTENTdm instance, will continue under Darryl and Metadata Librarian Kara Long.

I will continue my relationship with the DPS in the role of promoting and publicizing the ongoing work of the group, including its established social media channels, ongoing events (like the Voices & Vinyl concert and the Visions of Rapture art exhibit) and in writing grants for use by the DPS in their ongoing projects. The decision to leave my friends and colleagues at the DPS was not an easy one, and being able to maintain these ties to the amazing work being done by this group of talented professionals was one major reason I was able to make the transition with full knowledge that it was the right (if not necessarily easy) choice for me at this stage in my career.

So What’s Next?

The changes will continue for the DPS as it continues to add content to an already-sizable digital collection, with an expected increase in video digitization coming in the near future, as well as the ingestion of additional resources from our campus archival collections. There’s also a change to the appearance of the Digital Collections site on the horizon, as Baylor transitions into CONTENTdm’s mobile/responsive design template, a move that will make browsing our materials on tablets and phones a more intuitive and engaging experience. There might also be new equipment to tell you about soon, the addition of which will allow the DPS to explore digitization in areas where we’ve only previously dabbled.

In short: change is what’s next. It’s unpredictable, it’s sometimes difficult, but it’s always been something the DPS team has handled with skill, ability and foresight.

So let’s look forward together to what changes await, and thanks for being a part of the journey that’s led us to this moment. Here’s to the future.

Feeding an Elephant, One Book at a Time: Supporting the Hathi Trust Digital Library

Modern researchers rely on access to information in a manner that was unthinkable less than a generation ago: the Internet, with its light-speed connection to all the resources of the world’s libraries, archives and cultural heritage institutions. But even with the explosive growth in digital collections there remains an untold number of books and other resources that remain difficult to find online. One way to make the job of finding them easier is through aggregator systems that bring together materials from a number of disparate places.

The HathiTrust is one such site. From their website:

HathiTrust is a partnership of academic & research institutions, offering a collection of millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world.

Those digitized titles – numbering more than 14 million as of 2015 – cover an impressive range of topics, time periods and authors. But like so much in life, the items in the HathiTrust are only useful if they’re available. And that means someone has to take the time to ensure the items the site has flagged as being in the public domain actually are, no simple feat when you consider the sheer volume of materials ingested into the system every year.

When Baylor committed to being part of the Copyright Review Management System  World (CRMS-World) team for the HathiTrust, it was with the understanding that we were pledging to review thousands of books and manuscripts to determine their copyright status and whether or not they fell into the category of a public domain work in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. Enter our Electronic Library team, specifically Denyse Rodgers, Darlene Youts and Brenda Anderson.

Denyse was the first Baylor library member to sign on for the project, in 2012; Darlene and Brenda joined in 2014. The initial grant that funded the project expired in February 2016, but the trio of Bears volunteered to keep working on the project through the end of the year on a volunteer basis.

Using a custom web interface developed by HathiTrust, Denyse, Darlene and Brenda spent hundreds of hours reviewing digitized copies of books added to the database from HathiTrust partner institutions. Using a set of criteria provided by the Trust, they reviewed provided metadata records for each book and determined whether or not it met predetermined public domain criteria. Then, they would flag the record in the system and it would join the ranks of the PD or non-PD materials in the HathiTrust catalog.

In toto, the project reviewed more than 305,000 volumes, identifying more than 154,570 as public domain works. Locally, the numbers were:

  • Brenda reviewed 21,011 items, of which 9,807 were PD
  • Denyse reviewed 20,860 items, of which 9,857 were PD
  • Darlene reviewed 7,090 items, of which 3,116 were PD

Perhaps the most exciting result from the project is that our Baylor team – along with teams from Penn State and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign – reviewed roughly 1/3 of the entire corpus of works covered during the project’s timeline.

After the project’s completion, Denyse told me, “I believe this was a very worthwhile project because it allowed materials to be made openly accessible that otherwise might not be.  In April 2016, ALA recognized the program with the L. Ray Patterson Copyright Award.  I was pleased to be able to participate in such a worthy effort.”

Billie Peterson, director of Resources and Collection Management Services for the Electronic Library, also praised the project. “From my perspective,” she said, “all of the institutions that participated in both the original CRMS grant and the CRMS World grant enabled opening access to hundreds of thousands of English-language orphaned works contained in the HathiTrust corpus and developed a tested and robust method to determine whether or not English-language orphaned works are actually in the public domain.”

The Baylor team worked on the HathiTrust project in addition to their regular daily work managing library information systems (Denyse), coordinating the usage statistics process (Darlene) and managing the course reserves process (Brenda). As of the Spring 2017 semester, their hard work paid off: thanks to their efforts, the Baylor Libraries had met their commitments and added thousands of titles to the public domain list in the database.

The old joke, of course is that you eat an elephant one bite at a time. But as the efforts of our Electronic Library colleagues show, it takes a steady diet of daily work to feed one.

Thanks for your hard work, and Sic ’em, Denyse, Darlene and Brenda!

Contributing to the Social Welfare History Image Portal at Virginia Commonwealth University

The Frances G. Spencer Collection of American Popular Sheet Music is many things: big, colorful, historically significant and occasionally eye-opening in its imagery and lyrics. And as of this week, you can add another descriptor: a supporter of a project sponsored by the Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries.

The opportunity to support the Social Welfare History Project, which is described on its homepage as “chronicling the history of the nation’s response to human need,” came thanks to a connection with a former Baylor staffer. Alice Campbell, formerly of The Texas Collection, is heading up the VCU project in her role as the university’s Digital Outreach and Special Projects Librarian. She reached out to our interim Dean of Libraries, John Wilson, and said she thought nine pieces from the Spencer Collection related to the Prohibition era would make great additions to the project. Everyone here in Waco agreed, and so today there are nine new items in the collection, each digitized from our amazing sheet music collection.

It’s certainly worth checking out the entire project, but we wanted to highlight the covers of the nine pieces Alice selected here in this post so our readers can get a sense of how the Spencer Collection’s materials are supporting this fascinating project.

At The Prohibition Ball: Novelty Song by Alex Gerber and Abner Silver, 1919 (View the full item in our Digital Collections.)

Empty Cellar Blues by Jack Nelson, 1920 (View the full item.)

Every Day Will Be Sunday When The Town Goes Dry by William Jerome and Jack Mahoney, 1918 (View the full item.)

Everybody Wants A Key To My Cellar by Edward Rose, Billy Baskette and Lew Pollack, 1919 (View the full item.)

For If Kisses Are As Intoxicating As They Say, Prohibition You Have Lost Your Sting by J. Russel Robinson, Al Siegel and Billy Curtis, 1919 (View the full item.)

How Are You Going To Wet Your Whistle When The Whole Darn World Goes Dry? by Francis Byrne, Frank McIntyre and Percy Wenrich, 1919 (View the full item.)

It’s The Smart Little Feller Who Stocked Up His Cellar That’s Getting The Beautiful Girls by Grant Clarke and Milton Ager, 1920 (View the full item.)

Oh Doctor by Billy Joyce and Rubey Cowan, 1920 (View the full item.)

Where Do They Go When They Row, Row, Row Three Miles Away From The Shore by Bert Kalmar, George Jessel and Harry Ruby, 1920 (View the full item.)

View all the Spencer Collection’s Prohibition-related titles here, and be sure to check out the other items in VCU’s Social Welfare History Image Portal. Thanks to Alice W. Campbell of VCU Libraries for reaching out to us on this opportunity!

Our Summer With Gabby: Hosting a Waco ISD Summer Intern

Fans of our Facebook page may recall seeing this photo at the start of the summer:

This fresh-faced young lady is Gabriella “Gabby” Hernandez, a rising senior at Waco ISD’s University High School (home of the Trojans) and our 2017 Prosper Waco summer intern here at the Baylor University Libraries! Gabby spent 80 hours with us over the course of June and July getting experience in the work we do here in the Digital Projects Group, and today we’re highlighting her end-of-internship project.

But first, some background. The Baylor Libraries participated in the inaugural Prosper Waco/Waco ISD summer internship program last year. Intern Casandra Barragan-Melendez worked with staff from the Central Libraries to create a custom artwork based on a 15th century piece titled Très Riches Heures. (You can read about Casandra’s project on the Central Libraries blog.)

This year, the DPG agreed to host the Prosper Waco intern, and from the start we knew we’d struck gold with Gabby. She is unfailingly polite, punctual and positive. Every task we gave her – from the mundane, like organizing stacks of old newspapers, to the innovative – she handled with attention to detail and politeness. In short: we were thrilled with the quality of Gabby’s work during her time in the Riley Digitization Center.

Because the internship program doesn’t have a category for “students who want to work in a state-of-the-art digitization center” yet, our biggest challenge was finding a way to adapt our resources and technologies to Gabby’s post-high school interests. Her dream is to open a childcare center, the kind of place where preschoolers can go to learn and develop into successful children; not, as Gabby puts it, a place to “babysit people’s kids all day.”

After some conversations and giving Gabby time to explore our Digital Collections, we hit on the idea of challenging Gabby to take items from the collections and turn them into learning tools – like hands-on manipulatives (puzzles, matching games), songs, art projects and more – for kids ages one to five. Gabby came up with eight examples using materials from the Digital Collections, including a coloring sheet, a matching game and an early literacy evaluation tool.

Another component of Gabby’s time with us was introducing her to the WordPress suite of tools. She expressed an interest in setting up a website for her post-school business, and we thought a WordPress blog offered a good introduction to both desktop publishing and entrepreneurial enterprise. So she reserved a URL ( and set up her first blog, with a post about her experiences with us this summer and another detailing her plans for creating lesson plans using Digital Collections materials.

We won’t spoil her stories here, so we’ll encourage you to head over to Gabby’s blog to read the thoughts and experiences of a 17-year-old budding businesswoman in her own words.

Our time with Gabby was short but certainly sweet, and it was a positive experience for all involved. We exposed her to new technologies, helped her develop skills and materials for her future job and we benefited from having the energy and insight of a high school student around the office. That’s one busy summer!

From all of us at the RDC to Gabby and all her fellow Prosper Waco interns, we wish you great success as you enter your senior year and SIC ‘EM!

You can view Gabby’s blog at Read her post on lesson plans here, and her post on her experience in the RDC here.

Reflecting on 10 Years in Leadership: A DPG Exit Interview with Dean of Libraries Pattie Orr

Dean of Libraries/Vice President for Information Technology Services Pattie Orr. Photographed in Moody Memorial Library on May 9, 2017 by Carlye Thornton, BU Marketing Communications.

When I sat down this past March with Dean of Libraries and Vice President for Information Technology Services Pattie Orr, we were in her office in Moody Memorial Library, surrounded by ten years’ worth of mementos both personal and professional. A construction helmet from the ceremonial groundbreaking for McLane Stadium. A print of a sheet music cover from the 19th century. Books written by or about Baylor luminaries. And on the table before us one of her ever-present cups of iced green tea, fresh and cold from the upstairs Starbucks location that she helped shepherd from idea to reality in 2011.

The purpose of our visit was to document Dean Orr’s memories of the Digital Projects Group on the eve of her upcoming retirement. After a decade of service to the libraries and ITS, Dean Orr will retire from Baylor on May 31. Pattie likes to joke that she’s leaving at 5:00 PM on that day, but her husband Steve, who preceded her in retirement two years ago, likes to say it won’t be a moment longer than 5:00:01. Maybe that’s because he’s excited for her to join him in the post-workaday world, or maybe it’s because he knows she’s accomplished so many big things during her tenure that he’s afraid she’ll find one last thing to do – which could lead to another, and another and a further delaying of her well-deserved time off. Either way, you get the sense he’s not taking any chances, hence the very specific timestamp for her final day’s work as dean.

Day One: A Chance Encounter, A Longtime Partner

Darryl Stuhr (from left), Prof. Robert Darden and Pattie at an event in Washington, D.C. promoting the BGMRP, 2016. Prof. Darden would be one of Pattie’s earliest and most dedicated faculty supporters.

I asked Dean Orr to relay her first memory of the DPG, the group that has grown under her leadership to oversee a digital collection of more than 400,000 items, a suite filled with sophisticated digitization equipment and a flagship project – the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project or BGMRP – that is now part of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History & Culture. And it seems fitting somehow that her first memory involves meeting the BGMRP’s patron saint, Robert Darden.

“Bill Hair [interim dean, Pattie’s predecessor] and I were walking through the Goodpasture Concourse [in Moody Memorial Library] and Bob Darden was standing there, and Bill introduced me to him, and he told me what a great partner he was and how he’d worked so closely with all of you [in the Digital Projects Group],” Pattie told me. “He said Bob was one of our most supportive faculty and he turned out to be the very first faculty I met in the library.

“Bob told me about all the great work you were doing [in the DPG] and the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project and how wonderful it was, and so I started my first day with a compliment from faculty lips, so it was  good way to start.”

That hallway conversation would start a relationship between Dean Orr and Prof. Darden that would culminate in a nationally recognized effort to save imperiled recordings of America’s black gospel music heritage, a project that would find its way into the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C.

From a Dark Room to a Bright Future

Darryl Stuhr drafted the initial plans for the Riley Digitization Center (then suite) in 2006

I asked Pattie to recall her first meeting with the team that would become the Digital Projects Group – at the time, a team composed of Darryl Stuhr (now Associate Director for Special Projects), audio engineer Tony Tadey and myself. “My earliest memory of the Electronic Library digitization group in particular was in this room that became the Riley Center that had stacks of books and that y’all were in the dark, working on your scanning,” Pattie said. “And I just thought that was so interesting because I saw the Riley Reading Room [on Moody 2nd floor] and realized there was more to it than just that room, but my main vision of you all in the beginning was you all sitting in the dark, scanning, lights all off.

“And then you and Darryl showing me the recording studio and realizing why you put it down there – which made perfect sense – and I just remember [thinking], ‘This is such interesting work that’s being done. It’s a shame that they’re in the dark.’ And then not too long after that we began to think about what we could do to expand it and how could we move things and I remember that first summer we met with Harold Riley.”

Harold Riley would play a crucial role in the development of the Digital Projects Group, and Pattie’s visit in the summer of 2007 – along with then-director of development John Wilson – would pave the way toward Mr. Riley’s generous gift to fund the creation of the Ray I. Riley Digitization Center, named in honor of his father. Pattie said that while she hadn’t met Mr. Riley prior to their summer meeting, she had heard he was a man of great faith, so she asked us to put images from the BGMRP and other projects onto a laptop to show him the kind of work the DPG was doing in its current sub-optimal configuration – literally, in the dark, among stacks of books in an underutilized space called the Scholars Room.

“I remember we sat on the couch together and I showed him those images and played him the music and he was very inspired by that,” Pattie said. “I told him a little bit more about it and after we talked about this he said the words that every dean loves to hear: ‘How can I help you?’ And I’ll just never forget that – the happiest words, ‘How can I help you?”

Those five words sparked a flurry of planning and dreaming on the part of the Electronic Library, particularly with Darryl as he worked to create an outline of what the Riley Center could look like if it were to serve the needs of the DPG for decades to come. Pattie returned to Mr. Riley with a plan to house current and future DPG employees and their necessary work spaces and specialized equipment in one central location: the space that would become the Riley Center.

“I’ve been really proud of that space. I think it was well-planned by the group. You all did the thinking power behind how that space could work,” Pattie said.

A Day with Lev and Ella

Pattie’s second major memory of the pre-Riley Center digitization space was the day the team and Dean Orr spent with our dear friend, the late Lev H. Prichard III. When Mr. and Mrs. Prichard read a story in their local newspaper, written by Professor Robert Darden, lamenting the scarcity of America’s recordings of black gospel music. A black gospel music collector and fan, Mr. Prichard and his wife Ella Prichard became interested in finding ways to work with Baylor to address the problem.

Lev and Ella got connected with Dean Pattie Orr and a visit to the digitization center was arranged. After a tour of the Riley Digitization Center and meetings with Electronic Library staff, Mr. Prichard spent the balance of the day with Darryl, Tony and myself listening to recordings of black gospel songs and generally being overwhelmed with the power and potential of the project.

“I remember you all spending the day with Lev and watching him listen to the recordings you had saved for the BGMRP and seeing his obvious love of the genre. And that love of the black gospel music led his family to create a generous gift to support the project.”

It would come to pass that this visit would be Mr. Prichard’s last to the campus that he loved so dearly and supported so strongly; he passed away in 2009 . And it would be one that would prove incredibly important in the life of the BGMRP, as it eventually led to the creation of the Lev H. Prichard III Black Sacred Music Endowed Fund, an important source of revenue that helps us continue the work of the BGMRP.

The Prichard family’s generosity toward the libraries would take form in two other ways under Pattie’s watch, as well. Lev’s Gathering Place, a beautifully furnished space in the Crouch Fine Arts Library, was created to showcase items from the BGMRP and to provide listening stations where students, faculty and visitors could listen to gospel tunes year-round. In 1996, Lev and Ella established the Pruit Symposium, an annual gathering of researchers and scholars that examines contemporary issues through the “perspective of the Christian intellectual tradition.” In partnership with the College of Arts and Sciences, along with many other academic partners, the Pruit Symposium has focused for the past several years on the topic of black sacred music and its evolving place in African American culture, as well as the broader role of religion in American society.

Workers install the sound isolation booth in the Scholars Room, an area that would become the Riley Digitization Center, in 2007.

On Fundraising

If it hasn’t become clear to this point, one of Pattie’s strongest skills is her ability to match a library need with an interested party in a fundraising version of the Match Game. I asked her if raising money was something specific she’d set out to do in her career in higher education administration or if it was something she found a natural talent for along the way.

“If you really feel strongly about what you’re raising money for, it’s the easiest thing to do,” she told me. “I’ve raised money for very practical things – air conditioning in one case, bathrooms in another – a lot of things that aren’t necessarily exciting on their own. When we held the Regents’ Dinner in the space outside the Riley Center in 2008, right after the RDC opened, they [the Regents] could look around at the old furniture nearby from 1968 and they could see the need to upgrade and they said, ‘Oh, boy, there’s work to do’ to renovate the library. That made it easier to find donors to support that work.

“[With the BGMRP] we can really care about the music and the message. We can paint a vision for what we can do for this genre,” Pattie continued. “Baylor’s a unique place where we can combine the academics with the message of Jesus and we can work together to save these irreplaceable recordings for future generations. That makes raising money for the project much, much easier.”

How Do I Love The(se Digitized Letters)?

The members of the Browning Letters Project gather for a tour of the RDC (from left): Roberta Rodriquez (BU), Anna Sander (Balliol, Ofxord), Ian Graham (Wellesley), Fiona Godber (Balliol), Darryl Stuhr (BU), Eric Ames (BU) and Allyson Riley (BU) in 2014.

Pattie’s previous employer, Wellesley College, is known for having the “love letters” of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. So when she arrived at Baylor in 2007, she jokes that she kept getting asked one question over and over by fans of the Armstrong Browning Library: “Did you bring any of those love letters with you?”

It turned out to be a prophetic question, as Pattie was able to use her connections with Wellesley’s special collections librarians to help facilitate what she calls “the personal project I most wanted to see become complete”: the Browning Letters Project. In partnership with Wellesley and other holding institutions including Oxford and the University of Texas at Austin, Pattie and the staff at the ABL partnered with us to create a joint digitization project that unified Robert and Elizabeth’s written correspondence under one asset management system for the first time ever. That meant more than 4,880 (and counting) letters related to the Brownings were accessible in one site to researchers all over the world, but Pattie was most excited about the impact it could have on undergraduate scholars.

“To think that undergraduates could have unlimited access to those letters … No undergraduate would ever get the kind of access to the original documents that they can get with this digital collection – to improve scholarship, to have unlimited amounts of time to access them, that was the important aspect of the project [to me].”

Who Knew the Cruse Was So Versatile?

One of my favorite moments in our discussion came when I asked Pattie if she had a favorite piece of digitization equipment in the RDC. Her answer surprised me: the Cruse CS-285 large format scanner, or as she’s called it from day one, “Papa Bear.” Most people go with a flashier option like the KIRTAS APT-2900 automatic page turning book imager, but Pattie’s description of the Cruse revealed her fascination with the mammoth German import.

“I mean, it’s a hammer, a Swiss army knife, a shoe polish, a dessert topping – there are so many unexpected uses for this machine!” Pattie said with a laugh. And she’s right: over the years, the Cruse has been used to digitize newspapers, panoramic photographs, student artwork, the official portraits of all the Baylor presidents, architectural blueprints and more. It certainly finds new ways to be useful each and every semester, though none of us have tried it on ice cream (yet).

I mean, it’s a hammer, a Swiss army knife, a shoe polish, a dessert topping – there are so many unexpected uses for this machine!

A Vision for the Future of the DPG

Pattie (far right) surprised the DPG during a photo shoot in 2012. She suggested we do a “jumping shot” with her and the result became legend. From left, Darryl Stuhr, Allyson Riley, Eric Ames, Austin Schneider and Stephen Bolech join in the fun.

We wrapped up our conversation with a discussion of where Pattie would like to see the DPG in the next five to ten years. She expressed her excitement at seeing how the projects we undertake touch the lives of people in unexpected ways.

“My first teaching job after school was with the Texas School for the Blind in Austin,” Pattie said. “So it was a nice surprise to find that the DPG was able to use its scanners to help vision-impaired students through OALA.” OALA is our Office of Access and Learning Accommodation, and for many years the RDC has used its high-speed book imager to create digital versions of textbooks and course materials for students with visual impairments to access on book readers and other devices. Prior to our help, OALA staff members had to laboriously unbind and scan books one page at a time on a flatbed, a process that could take hours for a single book. Now, we can turn around a fully digitized textbook – sometimes upwards of 700 pages long – as a PDF in less than a day.

She also got a real kick out of watching faculty retirees interact with the BGMRP during a recent event on campus. “It was a real joy to do that program for the retirees,” Pattie said. “To see the sparkle in their eyes, to see them interact with the black gospel music and the other special materials was wonderful.”

Lastly, Pattie hopes to see us further expand the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project and its related materials, most notably the nascent Black Preaching Project. As the BGMRP gets larger and more recognition nationwide, we are expanding our collections into preserving the sermons of African American preachers, starting with the Rev. Clay Evans of Chicago, whose recorded sermons will be online in the coming months. Other projects include a “piano bench” project under the guidance of ethnomusicologist and Baylor faculty member Horace Maxile that would focus on saving sheet music published by African American artists and publishers around the turn of the last century. And of course, there’s the dozens of programs and events like Voices & Vinyl and Visions of Rapture that promote and support the BGMRP.

Pattie knows that’s a lot to ask – “You’ll always need a Sabbath; even a horse and a mule need a Sabbath!” she joked – but she also knows we’re up to the challenge. “What you all have been able to do in the past ten years is just incredible and I know you’re only going to keep doing bigger and better things in the coming years.”

That’s high praise from someone who’s overseen a decade’s worth of incredible work from a talent staff of library and ITS professionals, and we’re honored to take it.


We ended our conversation as so many of Pattie’s conversations end these days: right before she had to go into another meeting. There’s a steady stream of those nowadays as Pattie works to wrap up her final projects in the last months of her time on Baylor’s clock. But she shows no sign of riding quietly into the sunset. She told me she’s looking forward to transitioning from being the dean to being on the board of advisors for the library – “Now I can tell you what I really think!” she said with a laugh – and to attending the dozens of library events and faculty talks she rarely got to attend when she was dean/vice president.

I suspect retirement will be kind to Pattie; with two young grandsons in town and an eager travel companion in her husband, Steve, what’s not to love? But it’s also equally likely that whoever takes the reins as Dean of Libraries in the coming years will have big shoes to fill, especially when it comes to her unwavering support for the DPG.

Darryl Stuhr, Pattie Orr and Eric Ames at Dean Orr’s retirement reception in the Armstrong Browning Library’s Foyer of Meditation, May 9, 2017

Dean Pattie Orr will retire from Baylor University at the end of the day on May 31, 2017. This interview is a condensed version of an interview conducted on March 22. The DPG wishes to thank Pattie for her years of service to Baylor and her support of our work. Enjoy your retirement, Dean Orr, and sic ’em!