Monthly Archives: May 2019

New Venue, Same Soulful Sound: The 2019 Voices & Vinyl Concert (From the 2019 ITS & Libraries Magazine)

Golden light bled through the stained glass windows into a worn but revered space. The wooden floorboards creaked as Baylor’s Heavenly Voices Gospel Choir walked to the front of the room. Everything seemed to stand still as Eric Witherspoon, the music director for Heavenly Voices, lifted his hand to cue the choir. Suddenly, the choir’s voices filled the former sanctuary at 2nd and Clay with joyful noise.

The Voices & Vinyl concert series, produced by the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project (BGMRP) team in partnership with Heavenly Voices, presents classic Black gospel music in a way that today’s audiences can relate to. Witherspoon, who served as director of the Heavenly Voices Gospel Choir from 2017-2019, selected six songs from the BGMRP’s online collection for Heavenly Voices to sing at this year’s concert.

“This is one of my favorite events to do every year,” said Witherspoon. “I love taking old songs and rearranging them to give them a different type of vibe that people might not be used to. It’s important to celebrate the roots of gospel music while also getting to put our own signature spin on these important songs.”

The music lineup for the evening included “I’ve Come to the Garden Alone,” “We Offer Praise,” “He First Loved Me,” and more. The BGMRP contains over 3,000 items in its digital collection and holds treasured songs from the “Golden Age of Gospel Music,” which spanned roughly from 1945-1975. For those who haven’t heard the classic songs in the collection, Voices & Vinyl offers an immersive experience into the BGMRP.

“We started Voices & Vinyl in 2015 as a way to get students involved in exploring the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project,” said Eric Ames, the Outreach Liaison for Baylor Digital Collections and coordinator for Voices & Vinyl. “We wanted to give Baylor students a way to experience these classic gospel songs – written and recorded almost 50 years before they were born – in a way that was immediate, relatable, and exciting.”

The Voices & Vinyl concert, which usually takes place on Baylor University’s campus, moved to 2nd & Clay this year to make the event more available to the Waco community, giving the concert a renewed sense of spirituality. 2nd & Clay occupies the building founded as St. James Methodist Church in 1874 by a freed former slave; it became one of Waco’s iconic African-American churches, providing a place of worship for the African-American community.

“This concert is exactly the kind of event we hope to host at 2nd & Clay,” said venue owner Lane Murphy. “It’s an amazing way to honor the building’s history while finding a new, modern use for the space.”

The space was filled with a sense of awe and wonder as the Heavenly Voices choir sang song after song. The rearrangements made the songs “familiar, yet new.” Just like the reconstruction of St. James Methodist Church into 2nd & Clay, the rearrangements of these classic gospel songs gives a soulful rebranding to an American music genre.

“Every year, we’ve seen Voices & Vinyl grow from its original concept into something bigger and more impactful on the audience,” said Ames. “Taking it off campus this year was a risk, but it paid off with a moving experience in a sacred space and a large audience of people from across the Waco community. That’s what we’ll look to build on for the 2020 concert.”


This story originally appeared in the 2019 Baylor University ITS & Libraries Magazine. To join our mailing list for future editions, email us at university_libraries@baylor.edu.

Exit, Pursued By A Legacy: Celebrating Tim Logan’s Stageworthy Career (From the 2019 ITS & Libraries Magazine)

Adapting a piece of William Shakespeare’s stage direction from The Winter’s Tale as the headline for a library staffer’s retrospective may seem unusual, but it is perfectly fitting for an article about Tim Logan. As he ends a stellar 38-year career with Baylor, Logan sat down with us to discuss the twists, turns, and lessons learned from his early days with the Theater Department to his final position as Associate Vice President for Library and Academic Technology Services.

Logan began his career at Baylor in the Theater Department as a technical director, and he credits the lessons he learned there for informing his later approach to IT and computer systems. “You learn to use materials in ways they weren’t originally designed to be used,” he said, along with an appreciation for creativity, flexibility, and the temporary nature of a production. “A lot of behind-the-scenes work goes into a public performance,” he said. And while people may never see the countless hours that go into making it happen, they always appreciate the finished product, a theme that would come to define his post-Theater Department career.

Logan’s fascination with technology led to enrolling in computer classes, and his aptitude there grabbed the attention of Dr. Don Hardcastle, who led the university’s Computation Center, along with Dr. Alan Hargrave in Academic Technology. Hardcastle approached Logan about joining the group and after years of long hours and weekends spent in a control booth at the theater, Logan agreed. In the end, he cites Hardcastle and Hargrave as two of the people who made the biggest impact on his career. The Computation Center’s environment of experimentation and the support of high-level administrators would inform his approach to tackling projects for the next 33 years.

That approach involved looking at problems – how to provide access to centralized computer records, for example – and evaluating the possible options through a matrix of choices including technical feasibility, length of time required to achieve success, staffing, and budgetary constraints. Then, Logan and his team would start experimenting, often taking inspiration from his mindset in the Theater Department as a guide. “When we needed to make columns for a production of Hamlet, we used giant forms used to make concrete supports for highways,” Logan said. “It wasn’t what people expected but it worked and no one knew the difference.”

That tinkerer’s mindset led to a series of increasingly ambitious and successful projects: converting the Library’s card catalog from paper records to multiLIS (first campus-wide online library system); creating a CD-ROM-based campus network for retrieving databases; spearheading an early campus videoconferencing system; overseeing the creation of a website-based system for Baylor’s decennial accreditation report to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). That series of projects involved addressing complex challenges crossing multiple departmental barriers over a series of multiple years, and each time, Logan’s dexterous approach led to successful implementations and problems solved.

In addition to a litany of successful projects, Logan says he’s most proud of the number of people he hired and trained who have gone on to successful careers in IT or other computer-related fields, and he derives great pleasure from listing their names, as well as projects carried out by his colleagues and people he’s supervised, like Carl Bell’s portable docent system (created for the Armstrong Browning Library) or the groundbreaking work done by Darryl Stuhr’s team in the Riley Digitization Center. Over his 38-year career, Logan has encouraged his subordinates to take risks, invested in their success, and seen the Electronic Library grow from a few employees to a large group whose scope of work includes digitization, classroom technology, learning spaces, creative labs, and more.

It becomes obvious in conversations with Logan that his capacity for retaining data on the history of computer technology is boundless. He is a veritable encyclopedia of formats obscure and obsolete, referencing products and systems like AppleTalk, the DEC Rainbow, and ZIP disks. But when pressed for details on plans for his future, he has only one topic in mind. “I will spend my time with Corrie, my wife of 44 years,” he says without hesitation.

When asked if he would miss the work he’s done for the better part of four decades, Logan gave a typically “Tim-esque” answer: “I’ve only been to one play since I left the theater, and that was because one of the people I’d trained was doing the lighting for it.” It’s as fitting an allegory as one can imagine for a man at the end of a distinguished career spent looking for the next challenge, the next opening night, or the next milestone with no need to look back with regret.

(Incidentally, and in true Tim fashion, he completely undersells the fact that that play was a Baylor Theater production of Othello starring a then only moderately-famous Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson was hired because of his professional experience and due to the fact that the role of Othello was seen as requiring “a total devotion of time which a student could not give,” according to an article in the September 9, 1987 edition of the “Baylor Lariat.”)

Asked to sum up how he’s seen academic libraries change in the time he’s worked for seven different library directors, Logan paused. Then, when the timing was just right, he replied, “It’s been a long 38 years and, boy, have we been a long way.”


This story originally appeared in the 2019 Baylor University ITS & Libraries Magazine. To join our mailing list for future editions, email us at university_libraries@baylor.edu.

Unique Archival Resources Provide “By the Books” Approach to Texas History (From the 2019 ITS & Libraries Magazine)

The Baylor Libraries are widely known for their special collections. The Texas Collection and University Archives receives frequent inquiries from historians, novelists, journalists, Baylor faculty and staff, and many others inquiring into resources on Baylor and Texas history. While the library regularly features its collections via social media, traditional publications remain an important way to introduce its holdings to a wide audience.

In the past 18 months, Baylor Press has published two new books that expose the world to The Texas Collection’s photograph and map archives. Gildersleeve: Waco’s Photographer was released this past September and Mapping Texas: A Cartographic Journey will be available in October.

The Gildersleeve book documents the life of famous Waco-based photographer Fred Gildersleeve. Its 374 pages include a new introduction to the life of Gildersleeve written by Interim Dean John S. Wilson based on the Gildersleeve papers in The Texas Collection. The weighty coffee table-sized volume also features 186 gorgeous photos by the photographer selected from the archives of the Texas Collection and curated by Audio and Visual Curator Geoff Hunt.

Gildersleeve came to Waco in 1905 and began documenting the life and times of his new hometown. Soon after he established his photography studio he became the official photographer for Baylor and for the State Fair of Texas. As the introduction notes, “From special occasions to sporting events, from construction projects to key figures, Gildersleeve documented Waco’s growth as a thriving industrial city during the early days of the twentieth century.” Gildersleeve’s photos are a blend of art and history, and are presented with great clarity in the book.

Even before the Gildersleeve book was complete, the publisher encouraged Wilson to compile a similar volume from the extensive map archive at The Texas Collection. The forthcoming Mapping Texas: A Cartographic Journey features 136 pages of some of the earliest known maps of Texas by Spanish, French, English, and Mexican mapmakers produce from 1561-1860. Rachel DeShong, Special Event Coordinator & Map Curator at The Texas Collection, worked with Wilson to select and curate the maps. The book also includes an introduction by Wilson and an analysis of map art and cartouches by Sierra M. Wilson, who serves as Production Specialist at the University of Chicago Press and happens to be John Wilson’s daughter. As the reader flips through the coffee table sized volume each large map presents a developing perspective on the Texas so many know and love today.

Both volumes present the richness of The Texas Collection’s archival collections to a reading public hungry for new insights into the history of the Lone Star State. They can be purchased via the 1845 Books imprint section of the Baylor Press website.


This story originally appeared in the 2019 Baylor University ITS & Libraries Magazine. To join our mailing list for future editions, email us at university_libraries@baylor.edu.