Archive for the ‘Your Library in Action’ Category


You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

Thursday, November 6th, 2014 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off on You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

You might think that when a USF alumnus returns to campus after an extended absence, the first thing they would notice would be all the new buildings, mature landscaping, elegant signage, and traffic improvements. But for Mitchell Katine, it was the familiar, unchanged elements that repeatedly drew his attention. “I was focused on the memories and the feelings of being back on campus – remembering my time as a student at USF. For example, when I was walking to the Beta dorms, I saw the exact door I used to see so often while standing in line for the cafeteria. I used to hang out with friends at the quad over there. Even the University Center (now the Marshall Student Center) and it’s Wednesday market are still there, though they have certainly grown.”

USF in 1979 was a far cry from the modern, scenic, tree-lined campus we know today: an unfinished Business Administration building is visible in the foreground, and the then-new library is to the left. (Image from USF Libraries Special Collections)

USF in 1979 was a far cry from the modern, scenic, tree-lined campus we know today: the Business Administration building is under construction in the foreground, and the then-new library is to the left. (Image from USF Libraries Special Collections)

Mitchell Katine graduated from USF in 1982 and moved to Texas for law school. After an initial career in real estate law, he found himself representing John Lawrence and Tyron Garner along the route to their eventual victory in the United States Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas. He has since built a prestigious career as a human rights attorney, fighting for some of society’s most marginalized citizens. On October 30th, he returned to USF to speak on legal gains for the LGBT community at the USF Libraries’ 2014 signature event for its growing LGBT Initiative. It was immediately apparent USF has come a long way from the commuter school that met essential academic needs in 1982. Of USF’s focus on diversity, sustainability, and innovation, Mr. Katine says, “I would consider USF back then, very much a university in development. Now, it’s a mature, successful, sought-after destination, with progressive achievements like the Library’s work in LGBT history.”

Mitchell Katine speaks to a rapt crowd as part of the USF Libraries "Gay Landslide" event in October

Mitchell Katine speaks to a rapt crowd as part of the USF Libraries “Gay Landslide” event in October.

While an undergrad, Katine was involved in seemingly everything on campus: student government and organizations, his job in the University Center — he was also one of the founding USF Ambassadors. Delighted to see how the program has flourished, he got to meet with some of the current USF Ambassadors at last week’s event.

2014 USF Ambassadors Marisol Torres, Martin Copello, Alberto Peralta, and Abraham Pineda with USF Ambassador Alumnus Mitchell Katine, center

2014 USF Ambassadors Marisol Torres, Martin Copello, Alberto Peralta, and Abraham Pineda with founding USF Ambassador Mitchell Katine, center

His undergraduate-era job at the University Center brought Mitchell Katine together with two people who are still dear friends and who attended October’s USF Libraries event – Sandi and Mike Conway. Sandi fondly recalls her time working with Mitchell. “He was just one of those incredibly impressive young whipper-snappers. He got things done, and was incredibly smart. Fun, too. I shouldn’t tell you this, but during our breaks, we used to practice our disco moves!”

Sandi Conway, Mitchell Katine, and Mike Conway, at the USF Libraries 2014 signature event for it's LGBT Initiative

Sandi Conway, Mitchell Katine, and Mike Conway, at the USF Libraries 2014 signature event for it’s LGBT Initiative

Mr. Katine has fond memories of the USF Tampa Library and is a donor to the USF Libraries LGBT Initiative. Of the library’s transformation to what it is today, he says, “The USF Library used to be a place where you came, did your work, and went back to your dorm or went home. Now, it’s this welcoming, comfortable place that is a hub of student life.” One of his donations, a  collection of framed and signed documents relating to the Lawrence v. Texas US Supreme Court victory, will even be on display in the Special Collections department on the library’s fourth floor.

Get involved and make your own contribution to the USF Tampa Library’s groundbreaking initiatives. Contact the USF Libraries Development office here or by calling (813) 974-4433.


Setting the Stage for The Best Student Work Ever

Thursday, September 18th, 2014 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off on Setting the Stage for The Best Student Work Ever

Have you seen the library’s first floor lately? The first thing you’ll notice is an entirely new look, but the improvements are not just cosmetic. Renovations performed over the summer added a substantial number of seats in students’ favorite study spots, lots of additional outlets for them to plug in their laptops, phones, and tablets, and an entirely new Digital Media Commons where students can design websites, produce videos, or create multimedia projects for their class assignments.

USF Library Services Desk - Image Aimee Blodgett/USF
An all-new Library Services Desk efficiently connects students, faculty, and staff with materials, answers to their questions, and reference help.
Learning Commons USF Library - Image Aimee Blodgett/USF
The study hub of USF, the Library’s Learning Commons, comfortably accommodates individual and group study with new electrical, furniture, and acoustical upgrades.
USF Library Digital Media Commons - Image Aimee Blodgett/USF
USF Library Digital Media Commons staff welcome students to the high-tech workspace.

USF senior accounting major Daiana Torres finds the renovation of the first floor makes academic life better. “The renovation of the first floor has improved studying in every aspect. It is easier to find a place to plug in now, easier to find a place to sit — studying altogether on the first floor is just easier since the renovation!”

In addition to upgrading the essential study environment for USF students, the experiment-turned-wildly-popular-resource formerly called the Digital Learning Studio (DLS) has been reborn on the first floor as the Digital Media Commons. A thoughtful design has given students ‘pods’ of high end workstations where they have the software, processing power, and monitors to pursue multimedia projects for their class assignments and research projects. They have the space to work individually or in groups.

USF President Judy Genshaft has said that one in five USF students are the first ones from their families to go to college, so having access to this often-costly technology and expertise can make a significant difference. The Digital Media Commons (DMC) not only provides computer workstations for students, but also student employees, with a range of software skills, who are on hand to provide assistance to students.

Armeen Kazim and Evan Bednar

Armeen Kazim and Evan Bednar

Armeen Kazim and Evan Bednar are two of those highly skilled students that work in the DMC assisting their peers. Armeen, a junior mass communications and public relations major, was overjoyed to learn of the DMC’s expansion. “I would always pass by the DLS when it was on the second floor… I had many projects that involved making a poster or editing a video, so I was so excited to use the facility once I found out it was available to students. Now, with this new DMC, word of mouth is really hot among students, and even professors are asking for multimedia class projects. It’s a whole new way of learning — and we learn better this way.”

Nick Lovera

Nick Lovera

Junior mass communications major Nick Lovera says, “I think it’s awesome. We were working on our projects in class today and I was able to come over here and keep working. The DMC gives you space and resources to do your work. It’s a nice place; it really works out well.”

The Library touches the lives of all USF students. You, too, can make a difference. To discuss making a gift to the library, contact the USF Libraries Development office here or by calling (813) 974-4433.


USF Libraries Profiles of Women in Leadership

Monday, July 28th, 2014 | Posted in Student Success, Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off on USF Libraries Profiles of Women in Leadership

As a pioneering woman leader, Betty Castor can tell stories that would make women entering the workforce today blanch. Not yet a state senator, in 1974 County Commissioner Castor was ejected from a lunch meeting with HUD officials and the yet-to-arrive Mayor Dick Greco at members-only business dining room the University Club. The reason? She was a woman. Castor handled the incident with extraordinary grace and composure and called her friends in the news media once she got to the hot dog cart down at street level. The incident made significant headlines, even drawing acclaimed journalist Calvin Trillin to Tampa to write about it .

Castor was not intimidated by the treatment she received. She went on to represent her district in, then become President Pro Tempore of, the Florida Senate; was elected the Florida Commissioner of Education; and was the first woman President of the University of South Florida, presiding over a period of great change and progress. This is to say nothing of her years enthusiastically teaching children in Uganda (and leading a group of girls to the summit of Kilimanjaro, without male accompaniment), raising a few of the next generation of respected legislators, and holding the presidency of the League of Women Voters.

Betty Castor reviews a list of prime sponsored bills in the Florida Sentate with project archivist Stacy Dolan

Betty Castor reviews a list of prime sponsored bills in the Florida Sentate with project curator Stacy Dolan

As part of the growing USF Libraries Profiles of Women in Leadership Initiative, the documents, photos, videos, and other materials that illustrate Betty Castor’s career are just one of several collections in the USF Tampa Library’s Special Collections Department that tell the story of accomplished women leaders and the challenges they have overcome. This initiative brings together the personal papers, public office archives, and oral histories of Florida’s women leaders, including Tampa City Council Member and Hillsborough County Commissioner Jan Platt, Florida First Lady Mary Jane Martinez, and Tampa City Council Member Linda Saul Sena.

Betty Castor understood the centrality of the USF Library from the moment she became USF’s president in 1994. And today Castor sees the big-picture relevance. She says, ”It is the central resource for the University and represents the intellectual capacity of a place… I am particularly proud of Special Collections, because I’m intensely interested in the history of Florida and change in Florida, and they have stepped forward to make the Florida Studies Initiative a priority.”

An exceptional recent USF graduate has been chosen to work on the Profiles of Women in Leadership Initiative: Stacy Dolan graduated Summa Cum Laude in Spring of 2014 with a major in political science and a minor in philosophy. Her honors college thesis focused on women’s and LGBT political activism, and she knows something about leadership, as a past president of College Democrats at USF. When asked why this project is important to her, she says, “We today see many women becoming increasingly aware of their place in politics, what it means to be a woman in politics, and what it means to be a woman outside of politics. This project is incredibly important because without understanding where we’ve come from, we will never understand how to move forward.”

Why has Castor chosen to give in support of the USF Libraries Profiles of Women in Leadership project? Her gift comes at a moment in time when telling the history of Florida accurately, and illustrating women’s increasing role in public governance is pivotal. “Let’s not lose the opportunity to capture this recent past. Here we have an institution with the capacity to do it. I like the idea of organizing it through the library because you can connect to all of the other things happening. I hope that in my own personal stepping forward and trying to build some understanding of the role of women as they enter the public arena, we can provide an incentive for others to do so.”

Make history. Make a financial gift in support of the USF Libraries Profiles of Women in Leadership Initiative. Contact the USF Libraries Development office here or by calling (813) 974-4433 .


USF Libraries Nurture Inquisitive Undergraduate Minds

Friday, June 13th, 2014 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | 2 Comments »

University of South Florida students are capable of great things. But occasionally, an ambitious young student will demonstrate such mastery of the research process, and pursue their academic and career goals with such focus, as to bedazzle those around him or her. It is this passionate undergraduate scholar that the Best Use of Library Resources award seeks to find each year. The scholarship was established by a generous donation from the USF Tampa Library’s Director of Academic Services, Nancy Cunningham, to be awarded to a student participating in the Office for Undergraduate Research’s (OUR) annual Undergraduate Research and Arts Colloquium.


“Both of these young men have extraordinary skills as researchers and,
as a donor, it is an honor to contribute to the advancement of their education
through this scholarship award.”

-Donor and USF Libraries Director of Academic Services Nancy Cunningham


Bryan MacNeill and Anthony Cilluffo, winners of the Best Use of Library Resources award

Bryan MacNeill and Anthony Cilluffo, winners of the Best Use of Library Resources award

This year, two promising young students shared the award. Anthony Cilluffo had established his passion for the research process and the library, having worked as a USF Library GURU this year. A political science and economics major, minoring in math, Anthony will temporarily leave the USF Tampa Campus (and his family in Pasco County) for the 2014-2015 academic year in order to participate in the London School of Economics’ (LSE) vaunted General Course, a program once attended by a young JFK.

Cilluffo’s award-winning research project was a historiographical analysis of the role that various government entities have played in the incentivization of several downtown Tampa entertainment projects. He sees it as a step toward becoming a macroeconomist, with the intention of entering public service as a policy analyst promoting effective and efficient government policies.

Anthony’s research project is entitled, Entertaining Government: A Case Study of the Role of Government in the Tampa Entertainment Industry. Of receiving the award, Anthony says,

Working in the library has been an incredible opportunity for me. I get to be surrounded by research everyday, and to spread my interest and experience in conducting research to others that need help. I am also surrounded by people that share the same passion for helping others with research. I’ve gotten a lot of ideas about how to make searches in the catalog and databases better from working with the librarians. Receiving an award from the place that has taught me so much is very fulfilling and encouraging, and will help propel me forward toward my next research project. In a more pragmatic sense, the library award is a great external affirmation of my growing research abilities that I hope will aid me when I approach faculty at LSE about assisting them in their research when I am there.

USF System President Judy Genshaft, USF Libraries Director of Academic Services and donor Nancy Cunningham, award recipient Anthony Cilluffo, and Dean of Undergraduate Studies Bob Sullins

USF System President Judy Genshaft, USF Libraries Director of Academic Services and donor Nancy Cunningham, award recipient Anthony Cilluffo, and Dean of Undergraduate Studies Bob Sullins


Bryan MacNeill’s enthusiasm for scientific research is evident the moment you meet him. Ask him about his research and you will be rewarded with a rich depiction of the forces influencing the ecosystems he studies. Bryan, originally from Tyngsboro, Massachusetts, is majoring in integrative animal biology. His project sought to understand whether differences in freshwater inflow could be responsible for an increased rate of parasitism in the species investigated. This kind of research has significant implications for estuarine and river health assessments. Bryan points out that, “By looking at two seemingly insignificant species, we can assess with ease whether a river system is in need of management or not.”

MacNeill hopes to publish his project, entitled Can River Flow Mechanics Drive Variation in Parasitism of Anchovies by Isopods? in an academic journal. He intends to pursue a doctorate in ecology, with which he aims to conduct research and to teach. Bryan also plans to work as a USF Libraries GURU in coming semesters, so that he can help other students make the most of the universe of resources that the library provides. Of receiving the award, Bryan says,

This award is very important, and holds a bit of sentimentality to me. One thing that has always inspired me is the human drive to know and learn more. There was recently a kid in the news who had discovered a new way to test for a certain cancer that would only cost about $5, whereas previously it had cost thousands. When he was asked what his greatest issue was during his research, he said it was the amount of money he had to spend looking through academic papers and journals, many of which have expensive subscriptions. 

USF System President Judy Genshaft, USF Libraries Director of Academic Services and donor Nancy Cunningham, award recipient Bryan MacNeill, and Dean of Undergraduate Studies Bob Sullins

USF System President Judy Genshaft, USF Libraries Director of Academic Services and donor Nancy Cunningham, award recipient Bryan MacNeill, and Dean of Undergraduate Studies Bob Sullins

There are a variety of ways to support these research awards. For example, a gift of $25,000 can endow a research award like this in perpetuity, in your or your family’s name. Become involved in recognizing and supporting students who are making the most of their educational opportunities: contact the USF Libraries Development office here or by calling (813) 974-4433 .


What do student employees contribute to the USF Libraries?

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off on What do student employees contribute to the USF Libraries?

The students who work in the USF Libraries make an invaluable contribution to the success of their fellow students and library initiatives as a whole. Many essential library functions are performed by our student workers who, in return, receive not only remuneration but on-the-job training and proximity to library resources that can benefit their academic outcomes.

In an effort to let these students know how important they are, the USF Libraries recently held a reception to thank the graduating students for their time with us, and catch up with returning students. It was nothing short of thrilling for Library faculty and staff to learn about the attending graduates’ plans for the near future:

Graduating students and their supervisors (L-R): Instructional Technologist/Blended Librarian Adonis Amparo with graduate Chase Starr, graduate Will Clark with Coordinator of Digital Initiatives & Services Barbara Lewis, Access Services Manager Scott Ryan, Director of Academic Services Nancy Cunningham with graduate Porsha Lark, Dean of the USF Libraries Bill Garrison, graduate Charniece Williams, graduate Thuy Luong, FMHI Associate University Librarian Tomaro Taylor

Graduating students and their supervisors (L-R): Instructional Technologist/Blended Librarian Adonis Amparo with graduate Chase Starr, graduate Will Clark with Coordinator of Digital Initiatives & Services Barbara Lewis, Access Services Manager Scott Ryan, Director of Academic Services Nancy Cunningham with graduate Porsha Lark, Dean of the USF Libraries Bill Garrison, graduate Charniece Williams, graduate Thuy Luong, FMHI Associate University Librarian Tomaro Taylor, Library Assistant Ginny Gates-Fowler, Director of Development Merrell Dickey

Charniece Williams worked with Tomaro Taylor at the Tampa campus Florida Mental Health Institute Library. She graduated this spring from USF with a degree in accounting and finance and will continue her education in the Masters of Accountancy Program at USF this fall. In addition to her academic successes, she is a mother to three year old Maleek.

Of her time at the FMHI Library, Charniece says, “I loved working at the FMHI Library. I gained lots of skills by helping with student questions as well as how to operate the different research databases and different tools. Every coworker was so kind and supportive. It was truly a great experience and I am sad to go.”

Porsha Lark worked in a variety of functions at the USF Tampa Library, from acquiring and managing collections to a role in Interlibrary Loan. She graduated last week with majors in public health and health sciences, and a minor in women’s and gender studies. She was accepted to begin a master’s in public health this fall at Columbia University in New York.

Of her tenure in the USF Tampa Library, Porsha says, “Since January 2010 I have been working at the library and I have learned how to work with different people on a more professional level. I am truly grateful for the experience because it gave me the opportunity to learn how to balance work and school which helped me to develop into a well rounded person. I would like to thank Jessi Hurd for training me when I first began, Angela Harden for ensuring that I was using my strengths to help others, and LeEtta Schmidt for believing that I could handle a position in the Interlibrary Loan Department. Each of these women have added tremendously to my growth at USF and without this library I do not think I would be where I am today.”

Chase Starr was one of the Digital Learning Studio’s student experts, on staff to instruct students in the use of multimedia software. He was accepted to the digital arts program at the University of California at Santa Barbara and offered a graduate assistantship to begin this fall. However, when the school flew Chase out to explore the program, he decided to pursue a program with a more technical and commercial focus. This fall, he will be working for the Museum of Science and Industry near USF and deciding which California digital arts program he will attend the following fall.

Thuy Luong worked initially with stacks but her outstanding customer service, when asked to fill in at the front desk one day, led to her working on the front lines. She graduated this May with a degree in Public Health and will be applying for masters in occupational therapy programs in the northeast.

Thuy says of her experience at the USF Tampa Library, “The library has benefitted me by allowing me the opportunity to teach other students as well as learn to use library systems better.”

Will Clark graduated with a degree in sociology and mass communications this May. He will begin the media studies graduate program at USF this fall and looks forward to continuing his work in the USF Tampa Library. He feels his work with the USF Library’s digital collections is personally satisfying and positively impacts on the community in Tampa Bay and around the country.

Will says, “I hope to become a professor here in the Tampa Bay area after graduation. If all my dreams come true, I’ll be teaching mass communication and society here at USF.”

Students who work at the USF Tampa Library receive professional mentoring and guidance during their academic careers. How can you help create more bright USF graduates like these? Your financial contribution to the USF Libraries helps ensure worthwhile positions for student work. Contact the USF Libraries Development office here or by calling (813) 974-4433 to give.


Sharing Library Treasures with the World via Digital Collections

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off on Sharing Library Treasures with the World via Digital Collections

Have you explored USF Libraries Digital Collections lately? If you have, you know these materials are usually primary source items from Special Collections and often of historic or international relevance. They are found in searchable collections on our website, and some have been curated into online exhibitions that walk you through a contextual narrative.

7th Avenue in Ybor City, Burgert Brothers

7th Avenue in Ybor City, Burgert Brothers

The USF Libraries hold digital collections on a universe of topics, ranging from the locally-famous and indispensable Burgert Brothers photographs, to the riveting Waging Peace Darfuri Children’s Drawings, to the iconic images painted by Jacques LeMoyne de Morgues upon first European contact with Florida’s native Americans, engraved and printed by Theodor de Bry. Online exhibitions weave selected digital collections into historical contexts, thereby enhancing their meaning. The History of Minstrelsy and 500 Years of Discovering Florida were produced by students mentored by Special Collections librarian Andy Huse. The Art of the Poison Pens online exhibition was created in conjunction with an exhibition and event at the Tampa Museum of Art, and showcases the political cartoon collection of Dr. Charles Mahan. And Portraying Courage is the result of an extensive collaborative project telling Holocaust survivors’ stories in their own words, through oral histories, and through professionally-painted portraits.

Adela Gonzmart with Cesar, Casey and Richard at the piano

Adela Gonzmart with Cesar, Casey and Richard at the piano

The legacies of several families whose histories are part of the very fabric of Tampa and Florida history are housed at the USF Tampa Library as well, not only tucked away in Special Collections but increasingly made available for all to enjoy and learn from as digital collections. One of the most notable among these is the Columbia Restaurant/Gonzmart Family Collection (view photos from the collection or introduction), which depicts the history of the Hernandez and Gonzmart families and their original Columbia Restaurant, emblematic of Tampa’s Ybor City. Richard Gonzmart wasn’t certain how valuable his family’s photos would be as a digital collection but he says, “…without a doubt, it’s now preserved for generations to view and enjoy that history.” What local historians may consider a gem “…most likely would have been thrown away,” according to Gonzmart. The Gonzmarts’ reverence for local history now continues with the native-inspired menu at their new restaurant Ulele, opening soon along downtown Tampa’s waterfront.

The Francis J. Thompson collection includes a fascinating examination of a period of Irish history done as his doctoral dissertation, along with a host of other authoritative scholarly work donated by the family of the professor of Irish literature and novelist. The 1300-plus-page dissertation, “Fenianism and the Celtic Renaissance,” which would require a tremendous effort to study in person in Special Collections, can now be read online, and by multiple researchers or family members at the same time.

How do these fragile, often one-of-a-kind materials get from the safety of Special Collections to a digitized format and then onto the USF Libraries website? The labor intensive process includes more steps than you might imagine, with both expert librarians and student library employees contributing to various steps of quality assurance, scanning, correction, and cataloging. The organization and display of these collections on our website recently moved from a software solution in-house developer Richard Bernardy devised to an open-source solution developed in tandem with the University of Florida. The new website allows for greater browsing freedom, as it functions well on mobile devices and tablets.

Some might worry that presenting these collections online would lead to reduced in-person visits to Special Collections. In the case of the USF Libraries, at least it has been the opposite, with numerous patrons initially discovering collections online and then coming in person to use the physical collections.

Partner with us to bring treasures to scholars, families, and lifelong learners around the world. Contact the USF Libraries Development office here to contribute or by calling (813) 974-4433 .



Tampa’s Rebels and Revolutionaries: Looking Beyond the Gangsters and Pirates

Thursday, February 20th, 2014 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | 1 Comment »

Tampa is well-known for it’s sordid past of gangsters and (apparently nonexistent*) pirates. But it’s the lesser known rebels and misfits that comprise Tampa’s most colorful history.

andy-huseUSF Special Collections Librarian Andy Huse recently shared his expertise on these characters in a funny, sometimes sad, and always fascinating talk entitled, ”Tampa’s Rebels and Revolutionaries: Looking Beyond the Gangsters and Pirates.” The USF Tampa Library’s Special Collections department holds these Florida Studies collections that form the basis for these stories.

“A lot of revolutionaries tended to coalesce around Tampa, for whatever reason.” -Andy Huse, USF Special Collections Librarian

Sanfeliz with S.P. BurgertJosé Ramón Sanfeliz arrived in Ybor City from Cuba and began a career as a cigar worker — but was a revolutionary firebrand in his desire to take down management and to organize labor. Later, during the cigar workers’ Weight Strike of 1899, he returned to Cuba only to find it was far too difficult a life compared to the relatively middle-class comforts of his life in Tampa. He returned to Tampa and the once-leftist activist became ever more part of the establishment, even giving his incredible collection of hobby photographs to reactionary three-term Tampa mayor, violent strike-breaker, and local businessman D.B. McKay. His photographs of striking cigar workers’ soup kitchens remain the most vibrant images of that period of Tampa’s history.

Dr. Marcelino Arguelles was a Tampa physician who broke with his contemporaries in endorsing a medicine-free approach to health. His large clinic included a hydrotherapy bathhouse, offered massage, and housed a vegetarian restaurant, which was unheard-of at the time. Some might even say Arguelles was ahead of his time in decrying the ill effects of processed foods. His list of no-nos sounds like a contemporary nutrition article, advising patients  to avoid refined sugar, flours, and the like. By all evidence, he had enough adherents to be successful, with over 25 years in practice in an office occupying a three-story building in Ybor City.

avellanalJosé Luis Avellanal y Jimenez was the son of Concepción Jimenez and Dr. José Ramon Avellanal, a prominent Ybor City physician, co-founder of La Gaceta, and director of the Centro Español mutual aid society. Avellanal the younger began a lifetime of dangerous scientific and mystical-occult experimentation by shooting one childhood friend in the eye and testing out a homemade electric chair on another. From there, his antics only escalated, and he was eventually sent to military school in Georgia. Once he returned to Ybor City, he began a diploma mill, operated as a gynecologist with absolutely no medical training, continued as an  incorrigible ladies’ man who even pioneered consent forms for his romantic relations, and eventually had the title ‘General’ added to his name while he was in Mexico.

jimfairJim Fair was born into a wealthy Tampa family but gave up a life of luxury for one of outspoken political scrutiny and informal philanthropy through his non-discriminatory Salvation Navy for the needy, his truly open-door policy when he was somehow elected Supervisor of Elections, and his penchant for making powerful enemies as a semi-famous local gadfly. Eventually a judge sent to Fair away to the Florida State Hospital mental institution in Chattahoochee in a judgment that has, several times, been characterized as indefensible.

Frederick Weightnovel told people he met that he came from Russia, escaping a tsarist gulag by swimming across an icy river… before coming to Tampa. He also told everyone that he was a doctor, yet had no degrees to show for it. He went before the Florida medical board and they saw no reason to give him a license, however he harangued them until they eventually did so. His medical practice’s records and ledger would surely have held secrets capable of destroying Tampa society. In addition to treating rheumatism and female complaints of well-to-do Tampa residents (sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, and the like), Weightnovel sold hair tonic on the side, his thick, curly locks and a full beard acting as a walking billboard for ample hair growth. Huse recounts:

 “He would lay on his back in the surf and float like an otter. He would have a cigarette and a newspaper and a plate of oysters perched on his chest. He would float and read the paper and slurp his oysters. When he got out of the water, he would shake out his ample locks and make a spectacle that way. But that was just the beginning…”

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 1.16.31 PMFrederick Weightnovel ended up squatting in old Fort Brooke after it was decommissioned and the Seminoles were no longer  a threat. The City tried but was not able to evict him and his associates. Ultimately, in a defiant gesture, the squatters elected Weightnovel mayor of Ft Brooke, which he renamed ‘Moscow’ and attempted to operate as a secessionist state.

Weightnovel ended up orchestrating several other controversies, to which the aforementioned pale in comparison. Hear these scandalous tales in the encore presentation of the talk, which is available for viewing on YouTube.

There are many ways to further the cultural legacy of Florida Studies at the USF Tampa Library. Your contribution increases research and educational opportunities using these unique and invaluable historical treasures. Contact the USF Libraries Development office here or by calling (813) 974-4433 to make a financial commitment to the USF Libraries.

* There is no evidence that Jose Gaspar existed, and in fact his story appears to be a legend created specifically to spur tourism and support the Gasparilla parade and event. Sorry.


Exploring Our Cultural History

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off on Exploring Our Cultural History

There are many treasures in USF Tampa Library Special Collections that carry with them interesting and well-documented histories. But what of those whose origins are less well known? What can we learn about those objects? Students in Pamela Merrill Brekka’s History of Visual Arts classes make an effort to unearth their stories with the USF @TaCHe (USF Tampa Cultural Heritage database) project, working with the expert facilitation of Special Collections librarian Andy Huse.

Fulfilling USFs unique and rigorous requirements for Foundations of Knowledge and Learning Core Curriculum classes, the USF @TaCHe project students are conducting original research on a host of collections in Special Collections. Objects used in the project include historic maps of Florida, the USF Libraries collection of original Jacques LeMoyne engravings of European settlers’ first encounters with native Floridians, early editions of the USF Oracle, historic photographs of Florida, and Tampa cigar labels. Thanks in part to research courses like this one, use of Special Collections has nearly tripled when compared to past years.


History of Visual Arts students work in the Special Collections reading room

Dr. Brekka’s ultimate aim with the USF @TaCHe project is to create a searchable database of locally relevant historical objects, making the assignment more meaningful and longer lasting than a typical introductory level art history project. The curatorial files that students prepare for the course include photos, written analysis, images of comparative works, and scholarly citations for further study.

The objects are evaluated within a broad context. Fine arts major Yolianne Hubert studied a Brillante cigar box label. She was unable to find any information directly pertaining to the label’s history but performed an analysis of the marketing effectiveness of the design and it’s symbolism, which included Nike in a chariot pulled by four tigers. Psychology major Freeman Gerhardt took the approach of analyzing antiwar sentiment evident throughout the 1972 Aegean USF Yearbook within the larger social context of that time.


Brillante cigar box label, one of the objects being studied by students in the class

Student Pietro Mendonça found the project not only interesting, but helpful in developing his research and writing skills. Pietro says it “…was a great opportunity to learn more about the history of Tampa though the objects and artworks in USF’s Special Collections. The most interesting part was developing the contextual analysis for the chosen object, in my case a photograph of Tampa’s Skyline in 1925, and making the connections to New York City, the local and national economy, a Category 4 hurricane 1921, and even Florida’s first housing bubble collapse in 1925.”

Be a part of the lasting cultural legacy that provides enriching student experiences by supporting Special Collections. There are a variety of ways to contribute at all levels of giving. Contact the USF Libraries Development office here or by calling (813) 974-4433 .



What Does the Library Mean to USF Students?

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off on What Does the Library Mean to USF Students?

“It was very impressive that students felt strongly enough about the importance of the library to their academic lives that they stood up and spoke out.

How many other things are cut in tight budget times that you don’t hear so much as a whimper about?”

~The Honorable Jan Platt, longtime Hillsborough County Commissioner and USF Libraries donor

A 24-5 sit-out organizer addresses the crowd

A 24-5 sit-out organizer addresses the crowd. Photo by student Briana Luis.

This August, when USF students returned to school, they got the news that the Library’s heavily-used 24-hour-a-day, 5-day-a-week operating schedule would cease as a result of funding cuts. The Library was slated to close at midnight and open at 7:30 am during the week. The news did not sit well with the thousands of students who rely on overnight hours to accomplish their schoolwork.

Melissa Garzon, student organizer

Melissa Garzon, student organizer

Immediately, a Facebook group was begun to discuss strategies for getting those overnight hours back. Late-night sit-outs were planned so that students could show their support for the Library hours while studying out in front of the building. A letter-writing campaign to USF President Judy Genshaft was orchestrated. The driving force organizing these actions was sophomore sociology major Melissa Garzon. Speaking to her motivation and swiftness, Garzon said, “I knew that, for change to happen, someone had to speak out. Someone had to start something — and no one was. The Facebook group was the quickest way to get students involved.” Garzon sent press releases to local media outlets, which involved the larger community in the story and even led to national press coverage.

While USF administrators and Student Government worked toward a solution for keeping the Library open overnight during the current academic year, students of all stripes shared their passion for the USF Tampa Library:

USF Biomedical Sciences major David Lee

USF Biomedical Sciences major David Lee

Sophomore biomedical sciences major David Lee works until 9:00 PM almost every night, so the Library’s evening and overnight hours were especially important to him. “I’m taking three science courses as well as my other classes so having the library available to me helps immensely, whether I have to print out worksheets… or just need a place to concentrate for exams after work.”

Student Shanah Pitilon contrasts the library with her dorm room and social environs: “The library has this environment of stillness and concentration that surpasses any other location on campus… So, for me, the library is an intellectual sanctuary where I can get away from the temptations of college life, tune out all distractions, and really concentrate on my studies.”

Applied Linguistics graduate student Stephen Lindhorst

Applied Linguistics graduate student Stephen Lindhorst

Graduate students demonstrated their passion for the Library as well. Applied Linguistics student Stephen Lindhorst said, “…the Library is essential for my success.  My research would be impossible without the numerous journals, articles, and e-books that are made available through the great efforts taken by the Library.  Instead of paying around $49.95 for an article, I can access the same article at no additional cost from the comfort of my own home.  In addition, the new scanners match well with my needs as a mobile student by allowing me to scan sections of the materials for use in my course to carry with me on my phone or laptop.”

Before long, a resolution was reached that allowed the USF Tampa Library to stay open during those cherished overnight hours. Even still, students continued to reflect on what that access meant to them:

Exuberant about the return of the Library’s 24/5 hours, David Lee posted on the Facebook group’s page: “Pretty sure I demolished my bio exam tonight! Stayed at the lib till 3 last night and managed to get a majority of my homework for the next few days as well as a decent amount of studying done!”

Shanah Pitilon posted: “With two exams and two papers coming up this week for me, I think the reinstatement of the 24/5 hours came just in time! I wanted to participate in the sit-outs and such, but never did… So I just wanted to thank everyone who DID help fight to get 24/5 back..” 

Let’s continue to make the USF Tampa Library the place where all USF students can achieve academic success.Contact the USF Libraries Development office here or by calling (813) 974-4433 to support student success initiatives in the Library.



The USF Libraries Oral History Program

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off on The USF Libraries Oral History Program

Survivor Sam Schryver during an oral history interview with Ellen Klein

Holocaust survivor Sam Schryver during an oral history interview with Ellen Klein

The USF Libraries are home to a wide-ranging landscape of stories told in the first person that are most appropriately called ‘oral histories.’ From the culinary, environmental, and sports history of Florida to the incredible tales of World War II Holocaust survivors and concentration camp liberators, the program’s three collection areas provide one-of-a-kind materials for scholars exploring a variety of local, national, and international issues.

The USF Libraries Oral History Program creates and shares these original interviews using state-of-the-art digital technologies. Few libraries in the world produce and showcase their oral history materials with comparable access. Through streaming audio and printable transcripts, listeners around the world can mine this rich learning resource with three areas of emphasis: urban development and sustainability; Holocaust, genocide, and crimes against humanity; and culture and identity.

Two of the most popular oral history collections in the USF Libraries program are the community-focused Otis R. Anthony African Americans in Florida Oral Histories and the Holocaust Survivors Oral History Project, whose stories relate moving accounts from local residents that hold relevance worldwide.

Otis R. Anthony

Otis R. Anthony

The Otis R. Anthony oral histories were primarily recorded between 1977 and 1978 as part of the Black History of Tampa Project, sponsored by the Tampa Urban League and the Hillsborough County Museum, under the direction of community activist Otis R. Anthony. In 1994, Anthony donated the collection to the USF Department of Anthropology, to support its Central Avenue Legacies Project. The Department of Anthropology conducted additional interviews, focusing primarily on Central Avenue and the Afro-Cuban community. Listen here.

The Holocaust Survivors Oral History Project was begun by USF Department of Communication Professor Carolyn Ellis and her graduate students, in collaboration with the USF Tampa Library and the Florida Holocaust Museum. This growing collection of oral histories documents the memories of Holocaust survivors now living in the Tampa Bay area. Listen here or watch selected videotaped interviews here.

Jane Duncan records an oral history interview

Jane Duncan records an oral history interview

Each oral history collection is a time-intensive labor of love, requiring many hours of student and staff time to digitize, transcribe, and process the recordings, in addition to the initial research and investment on the part of the interviewers. As a result, archival-quality collections are carefully organized and preserved for current and future generations of researchers and curious minds.

Experience history first hand by listening to some of these oral histories, then contact the USF Libraries Development office here or by calling (813) 974-4433 to support the oral history program, and benefit students and community alike.

(813) 974-2729

4202 E. Fowler Ave. LIB122 Tampa FL 33620

Library Initiatives

Scholar Commons | Karst Information Portal
Holocaust & Genocide Studies | Florida Studies Center
Oral History Program | Textbook Affordability Project

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