Monthly Archives: August 2019

In Memoriam: Kent Keeth and Tom Charlton (From the 2019 ITS & Libraries Magazine)

Since 2018, the Libraries and ITS saw the passing of two influential members of the Baylor family, each of whom played an important role in the history of the University Libraries. Kent Keeth, longtime director of The Texas Collection (1973-2003) passed away at age 79, and Dr. Thomas Charlton, founding director of the Institute for Oral History, passed away at age 82. Both Keeth and Charlton guided their respective areas into new and influential positions in the world of scholarly resources and the preservation of personal histories, respectively, and the University Libraries and ITS join together in celebrating their lives in this brief tribute.
Keeth greatly expanded the holdings of The Texas Collection by widening its collecting focus to include not only historic archival holdings and artifacts but also contemporary materials like cookbooks and postcards. He was also the author of a popular series of articles on Baylor’s history, and he and his wife, Lucy, helped establish the Sanger Heights Neighborhood Association.
Charlton was, as his IOH colleagues stated in an online tribute, a “giant in the oral history profession.” He oversaw the Institute’s growth from a small program to a nationally-recognized Institute. His zeal for collecting the stories of those who witnessed and made history was unmatched, and the resulting collection of oral memoirs – most of which are now available in digital form as part of the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections – have shaped scholars’ understanding and knowledge about events local, regional, and national. 
Today, The Texas Collection is the preeminent repository of all things Texana, and the Institute for Oral History – in addition to being a leading light in the field – has become a valued part of the University Libraries organization. Simply put, the current makeup of the University Libraries would be much different, and less rich, were it not for the contributions of these two men, who are greatly missed by their many friends and colleagues.

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

Poage Library at 40: A New Director and A Bright Future (From the 2019 ITS & Libraries Magazine)

On September 21, 1979, dignitaries from around the nation gathered on a sunny Waco afternoon to dedicate a new $1.5 million 25,000 square feet facility on the Baylor campus. The new library was built to house an office for the recently retired Texas Congressman W. R. “Bob” Poage, his extensive archives, several new political collections, a reading room, and the Baylor graduate school. Forty years later, the W. R. Poage Legislative Library continues to thrive with an active Graduate Research Center, its beautiful Jack E. Hightower Book Vault, a growing number of political archives, and initiatives designed to encourage political research and civic engagement.

Mary Goolsby was selected in January to serve as the library’s new director. She began her work with the library in 2008, most recently serving as interim director, and hopes to continue to fulfill the original vision for this congressional research center.

“Congressman Poage imagined this library as a living institution and my goal is to welcome a new generation of researchers both at Baylor and beyond to use our archives,” said Goolsby. “We are already making our collections more accessible online and developing personal connections with faculty, graduate students and outside organizations whose interests match those of the library.” Goolsby also hopes to increase the engagement of History Fair students with the archives and continue the library’s involvement in Baylor School of Education’s iEngage Summer Civics Institute.

Beyond developing and extending the use of the library, Goolsby and the Poage staff are also in the process of designing a new permanent exhibit that will greet everyone who walks into the foyer. The exhibit will feature the two signature political collections of the library—the Bob Poage and Bob Bullock archives—along with highlights from a number of others.

In addition to featuring the collections, the exhibit will serve as an invitation to viewers to examine public service. “By representing the men and women of many backgrounds who have served the United States, Texas and Waco, we hope the exhibit will highlight our collections and encourage future generations to follow in the footsteps of these leaders,” said Goolsby. If all goes according to schedule, the exhibit should be open next summer.

To honor Poage Library’s 40th anniversary an open house will be held Friday, September 20, and in November the Standing Committee, the supporting organization for the library, will gather for a celebration at McLane Stadium. As director, Goolsby hopes to extend the work of those who have served before her and leave a lasting legacy, “When I retire, I hope that the reputation of the W. R. Poage Legislative Library will have grown among scholars and that I will have helped mentor the next generation of leaders for the Baylor Libraries.”

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

Ecology and Religion Conference Breaks New Ground with “Flightless” Model (From the 2019 ITS & Libraries Magazine)

From September 18-21, 2019, scholars from around the world will gather for the Ecology and Religion in Nineteenth-Century Studies Conference. However, unlike traditional academic conferences, nobody will travel by plane or more than 500 miles on the ground to enjoy the international conversation.

Avoiding flights matches the spirit of the conference, taking seriously the ecological impact of the time-honored tradition of gathering for academic conversation. “Although most academics agree that climate change is a reality the vast majority of conferences operate as if it is a fiction,” said Dr. Joshua King, Associate Professor & Margarett Root Brown Chair in Robert Browning and Victorian Studies. “By prohibiting air travel and restricting in-person participation to ground travel this conference respects the fragility of our common home while extending opportunities for participation well beyond the walls that normally confine such scholarly exchanges.”

Since 2016, the Environmental Humanities Initiative at the University of California at Santa Barbara has hosted all-digital conferences, in which scholars pre-record presentations and interact online through moderated comments.  This approach highlights the key challenge to flightless conferencing: approximating the valuable face-to-face conversations that take place during traditional academic meetings.

The Ecology and Religion conference offers a hybrid approach with onsite gatherings at four locations: Baylor’s Armstrong Browning Library, the University of Washington, Georgetown University and Lancaster University in the U.K. Participants can gather at these sites for local sessions and keynote sessions digitally linked across multiple sites. Scholars who live more than 500 miles from these sites can watch live-streamed sessions and participate in the conversation through social media and comments on the conference website.

“By removing costly barriers of travel, we are widening our audience while spurring new forms of personal connection,” King said. “Onsite, participants will interact through panels and special activities—such as visits to local environmental initiatives—while also engaging across time zones with individuals presenting from the other locations and their own devices. Panels and roundtables will involve online viewers through a Twitter feed and comment forums on the website.  Already some digital presenters, such as Chris Adamson from Emory University, have been inspired to expand the network of physical gatherings by planning group viewings and discussions at their home institutions.”

Linking these sites and providing live-streamed sessions involves several different technologies. Ben Wong, academic consultant for the Baylor Libraries, has been working with conference organizers to select the proper platforms to produce the online conference experience. “We will be using Facebook Live through Cisco Webex as our streaming platform. This will allow us to share and publish content from multiple sites during the conference,” Wong said. “We will also use Webex to link sites together for keynote sessions and then publish everything to the conference site for offsite participants.” This blend of technologies will harness the dynamism of typical conference engagement yet keep the event flightless.

The Ecology and Religion in Nineteenth Century Studies Conference will bring together 70 leading scholars from cross-disciplinary fields. Norman Wirzba at Duke and Michael Northcott at Edinburgh are leading voices in ecological theology who will be virtually linked with Baylor’s Susan Bratton and Robert Creech to talk about the theological inheritances of the current ecological crisis. Eminent literary scholars Gauri Viswanathan of Columbia, Meredith Martin of Princeton, and Michael Tomko of Villanova will participate in a keynote conversation on poetry, religion and ecology that will be broadcast to all conference sites and available online. Other conference sessions will address ecological interconnection and sociality; prayer, poetry and the body; world ecologies, missions, and contact zones; and transatlantic ecopoetics and rhetorics.

“What most excites me about the Ecology and Religion conference is the incredible possibilities it creates for exploring, revealing, and discovering interconnections between two disciplines whose relationship offers rich and diverse approaches to the climate crisis,” said Professor Emma Mason, Head of the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick. “The affective, ethical, and emotional potential of religious language, culture, and history is immense, and I look forward to debating and discussing this potential with colleagues in both the arts, theology, and the sciences”.

Anyone with an Internet connection is welcome to participate in the Ecology and Religion in Nineteenth Century Studies Conference. Visit to register and engage with the sessions, and follow #EcoReligion19c on social media.

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

Readers and Writers Unite: Welcoming the University Writing Center (UWC) to Moody Memorial Library (From the 2019 ITS & Libraries Magazine)

Baylor University strives to provide its students with a diverse, well-rounded education — one that sets it apart from other learning institutions. One cornerstone of this objective is the nourishing of the written word. Required writing and English classes provide the foundation, but for many students and faculty, help is needed beyond the classroom. For writers — both burgeoning and professional — an honest and constructive reader is vital to the success of his or her writing. Nothing improves a piece of writing like the support of an eager editor. In short: writers need readers. And that is why the University Libraries are proud to be the new home of the University Writing Center.

The University Writing Center (UWC) transitioned to Moody Memorial Library during the spring semester, augmenting its ability to provide quality writing assistance to students and faculty across all disciplines. Previously located in the Carroll Science building, many students had the perception of the UWC as a place for English and writing-related majors only. Its new location in the center of campus, however, makes it possible for the center to extend its hours and provide a larger space to serve more students, faculty, and staff.

“This move emphasizes that we are a true university writing center,” said Dr. Kara Poe Alexander, director of the UWC. “Being located in Moody Memorial Library sends a clear message that we are a university service. We serve students and faculty from any major, any discipline, at all skill levels, and all academic years.”

Thanks in part to a generous donation from siblings Ken Betterton and Karen Ro Betterton Heuberger in memory of their parents, Roe and Jessie Betterton, the space housing the UWC features a more comfortable and updated environment on the second floor of Moody Memorial Library, complete with new furniture and refreshed carpet and paint. This quieter area is free from the distraction of changing classes, and students writing and researching in Moody Library no longer have the make the trek to Carroll Science for help on their papers. Its centralized location and accessibility to all majors builds a strong community of writers across campus, rather than just in the English department.

“We are excited to welcome the University Writing Center to their new home in Moody Memorial Library,” said John S. Wilson, interim dean of University Libraries. “The idea of putting a centralized service like the UWC in a highly visible space makes good sense: it expands the Center’s reach and helps further position the Libraries as a partner in academic success across the full spectrum of students from all majors.”

The UWC’s services are available for a variety of writing projects, including but not limited to academic, technical, scientific, multimodal, and digital writing, along with job application materials and theses. Writers are welcome to bring their work at any stage in the writing process. Consultants can work with clients to develop ideas, strengthen style and organization, and perform minor or major editing. Online appointments are also welcome via the UWC website.

“We believe that writing is a powerful tool not only for communicating existing ideas but also for discovering new ones, and that all writers benefit from sharing work in progress with knowledgeable, attentive readers,” said Dr. Alexander.  “The UWC consultants work with writers in supportive, encouraging, and nonjudgmental ways to facilitate self-discovery and inspire confidence as writers learn, grow, and take ownership of their words and ideas.”

The UWC is committed to shaping a writing community that unites every part of campus. Through hosting writing groups and retreats and extending its services to include the design of class presentations, instructional consultations, and workshops, the new University Writing Center will allow every discipline the opportunity to form valuable and rewarding writing practices. This composition allows them to serve English writers as well as English language learners and international students.

“We hope to change the long-term perception about writing that writing is something only done in English,” said Dr. Alexander.  “Rather, writing and writing well are important in multiple disciplines and careers.”

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

Still “Our Voice:” The Keston Institute Celebrates 50 Years (From the 2019 ITS & Libraries Magazine)

This fall, the Keston Center for Religion, Politics, and Society will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of Keston College to be the voice of the voiceless for those experiencing religious persecution under communism and other totalitarian regimes.

In the heart of the Cold War, Michael Bourdeaux, a young Oxford student, became enthralled with the majestic beauty of Russian language and literature. During his studies, Bourdeaux’s emigre professor encouraged him to inquire into the whisperings of persecution church leaders were hearing from the USSR.

By God’s providence, Russian Premiere Nikita Khrushchev signed an exchange student agreement with England that Bourdeaux leveraged to study in Russia in 1959-1960. He found himself in the heart of Khrushchev’s cultural divestment of religion.

When Bourdeaux returned to England he worked from London to share his experiences. His stories, however, were called into question when the Russian Orthodox Church joined the World Council of Churches in 1961 and rebuffed any reports of any persecution. With western Christian and political leaders convinced there were no issues, Bourdeaux was marginalized.

In 1964, he received a letter from a group of Ukrainian Orthodox Christians recounting their experiences of persecution. Following a visit to Russia, Bourdeaux became the point person to receive testimonies, underground publications, and other materials that detailed the persecution of Christians in Russia. The flood of materials was so overwhelming that it was more than Bourdeuax could process alone. The evident magnitude of this crisis eventually led to the foundation of Keston College at Oxford in 1969.

Throughout the Soviet period, Bourdeaux and his colleagues operated research bureaus, verified information, advised political and religious leaders, published an academic journal, and widely exposed the realities of persecution through articles, books, media interviews, conferences, and high-level meetings. However, once the Cold War ended, financial support waned. Even so, on its 50th birthday, the Keston Institute remains alive producing newsletters, publishing articles, and supporting researchers.

The collection that contained a groundswell of evidence of religious persecution now resides at Baylor. In 2007, the university welcomed Keston’s library and archives and established the Keston Center for Religion, Politics, and Society to house the materials. In 2012, it became part of the Libraries and continues to collect new publications, receive materials, welcome scholars from around the world, and disseminate information.

On June 20, a plaque was unveiled on the building occupied by Keston College from 1972-1992 in honor of its fiftieth anniversary. Kathy Hillman, associate professor and director of the Keston Center, was on hand for the unveiling and reflected on the enduring importance of Keston’s work.

“Keston College was a ‘voice of the voiceless’ for so many persecuted believers in the Soviet Union and other Communist countries,” said Hillman. “Those stories continue to be told as researchers visit Keston Center and as we regularly host events on campus at Baylor.”

Keston’s golden anniversary celebration will continue on October 15 at the Foster Campus for Business and Innovation of Baylor University. A volume of commemorative essays entitled Voices of the Voiceless: Religion, Communism, and the Keston Archive will be formally presented at this event. Then, on November 9, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, will speak at the annual general meeting of the Keston Institute in London.

“A whole generation of Confessors was airbrushed out of official history,” said Bourdeaux during a recent Keston Open Day. “The Keston legacy, however, gives these men and women a continuing voice, having documented their activities with care and precision.”

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

A Bigger Voice for Research: Institute for Oral History Becomes Part of University Libraries (From the 2019 ITS & Libraries Magazine)

On June 1, the Libraries welcomed the Institute for Oral History into its organizational structure, greatly expanding the reach and depth of the Libraries’ research and scholarship activities. The move unites the IOH’s pacesetting work in the area of gathering oral history memoirs with the strength and expertise of the Libraries and its team of expert faculty and staff.

“We are pleased that the Institute for Oral History has joined the library family,” said John Wilson, interim dean of University Libraries. “We have collaborated for many years on projects dealing with Waco history and recently worked together on a successful project on our women’s collections. We have always shared a similar mission and look forward to broadening the infrastructure of the Institute and fostering collaboration between our faculty and staff.”

The Institute for Oral History was founded in 1970 by a group of faculty members under the direction of Thomas L. Charlton, then a new assistant professor of history. From its inception, the institute has had a close working relationship with The Texas Collection, the university’s oldest special collections library. Their long-standing alliance paves the way for new collaborations in the future.

“Our new partnership with libraries gives us the opportunity to not only add to our collective body of knowledge on a variety of important topics, but also bring those stories and information to new audiences on campus and beyond,” said Stephen Sloan, director of the Institute for Oral History. “Together, we look forward to fostering diverse learning communities of partners and patrons.”

The institute has been an invaluable resource for several areas of study. As a part of the library system, the institute will continue to record and preserve oral histories and assist scholars with specialized research. In addition to these services, the collection will provide essential information for research in historical topics concerning Baylor University, Texas Baptists, Hispanic Baptists, and Waco and McLennan County.

The partnership also builds on the Libraries’ reputation as a center for training and instruction, as the institute hosts a number of highly-sought-after workshops on how to conduct and record oral history interviews. These workshops are used to create well-trained citizen oral memoirists whose individual efforts to document local stories add to the larger corpus of documented history at the local level.

As the new partnership between the Libraries and the IOH continues to evolve over the coming months and years, the Libraries anticipate a renewed interest in the primary source materials found in the institute’s holdings and is already exploring new ways to put them into the hands of scholars, researchers, and local historians across the state and – via their large presence in the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections – around the world.

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

Support for R1 Status, Illuminated: Baylor Libraries Acquire Heritage Edition of Saint John’s Bible (From the 2019 ITS & Libraries Magazine)

Crucifixion, Donald Jackson, Copyright 2002, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

When calligrapher Donald Jackson sat down with a group of Benedictine monks at Minnesota’s St. John’s Abbey in the mid-1990s, he could not have dreamed that his idea to create the first medieval-style, illuminated version of the Bible in almost 500 years would one day impact scholars at Baylor University. But that’s exactly the kind of impact the vision of a small group of people can have on a broader community when it combines God’s Word and the resurrection of an ancient bookmaking technique. Add in Baylor’s dedication to providing an “unambiguously Christian educational environment” as part of its academic strategic plan and you have the basis for why the University Libraries acquired one of only 299 copies of the Saint John’s Bible Heritage Edition in February 2019.

The Inspiration
When Jackson – an artist based in Wales who once served as the official calligrapher to Queen Elizabeth II – met with the monks at St. John’s Abbey, he proposed an ambitious plan to create the first medieval-style Bible created for a religious order since the invention of the printing press. Envisioned as a project to celebrate the coming millennium celebration in 2000, the monks agreed and worked with Jackson to assemble a group of artists, religious scholars, and theologians to produce the work. 
Jackson and his artists acquired the rights to use the New Revised Standard Version translation of the Bible, began acquiring the necessary tools – calfskin for vellum, extremely rare inks, turkey- and goose-feather quills – and began the painstaking work of illustrating, illuminating, and calligraphing the Bible as envisioned for modern readers. Drawing inspiration from science (the use of images of DNA sequences and images from the Hubble Space Telescope), social welfare (images of people from minority and underrepresented groups), and modern life (cars, oilfields, even the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers), Jackson and his group made slow, meticulous work through the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The Heritage Edition
As progress was made on what would become known as the Saint John’s Bible (SJB for short), it became clear that having only a single copy in a vault at St. John’s University would not achieve the group’s vision to spread the SJB around the world. Work soon began on what became known as the Heritage Edition of the SJB: an extremely high-quality, handcrafted, limited edition facsimile of the original SJB that could be sold in seven-volume sets for private purchase, institutional acquisition, or as part of library holdings around the world. 
The Heritage Edition features the same art and calligraphy of the original SJB but in a manner that allows for small batch reproduction. Instead of being printed on vellum, for example, the pages are printed on 100% uncoated cotton paper; the gold and platinum leaf in the SJB are replaced with gold and silver foils; unlike the pages of the SJB, which are unbound, the Heritage Edition volumes are handbound by a single craftswoman at a bookbinding firm in Arizona. In all, the Heritage Edition becomes its own work of art, a formidable and beautiful complement to the original.

Garden of Eden, Donald Jackson with contributions from Chris Tomlin, Copyright 2003, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Heritage Edition Comes to Baylor Libraries

The Baylor Libraries had been pursuing the purchase of a Heritage Edition for some time before everything came together in the Fall of 2018 to facilitate a purchase. A group of Libraries faculty and staff working under interim dean John S. Wilson – including interim associate deans Sha Towers and Ken Carriveau, along with central libraries’ special collections director Beth Farwell – worked with the Heritage Edition Program to arrange a purchase, and the deal was closed in early 2019. Baylor’s copy of the Heritage Edition, certified number 105 of 299, arrived on campus on February 20.  
Plans are now underway to celebrate the Heritage Edition’s arrival with a series of public programs, including a blessing and dedication ceremony to be held at Truett Seminary in September, and a public lecture by a speaker provided by St. John’s Abbey later in the Fall 2019 semester. A series of public programs, class engagements, researcher encounters, and on-site visits are already being scheduled and undertaken, with Baylor Libraries faculty and staff taking the lead in connecting the Heritage Edition with interested parties in Waco and beyond.
“Opportunities to use the Heritage Edition in scholarship and as inspiration for new creations are as limitless as our community members’ imaginations,” said Towers. “We are blessed to have this incredible work in our collection, and we are eager to work with all who find its art, craftsmanship, and inspired Word to be of personal or professional interest.”
To learn more about the Baylor Libraries’ Heritage Edition of the Saint John’s Bible, visit

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