Perry-Castañeda Library

The Perry-Castañeda Library will start renovating the ground floor in December 2015. The 7,400-square-foot area will be reconstructed as space for research and studying by graduate students and faculty.  

While plenty of attention is paid to the undergraduate services offered on campus the services offered to graduate students often seem minimal. As part of its Scholars Common pilot, designed to provide graduate students more visible help, the PCL plans to utilize its capacity and resources more effectively to make graduate students and faculty aware that there are PCL spaces and services just for them. 

“On the entry level, I want the graduate students coming to see there’s something for them dedicated to their needs and the way they expect to use space,” said Jenifer Flaxbart, head librarian of research and information services for the PCL. 

It is generally acknowledged that people have different study patterns: Some perform better when studying by themselves, while others are more productive working in groups. 

Though the PCL offers about 135 closed study rooms for Ph.D. candidates, the number of students on the waiting list generally ranges from 5 to 20, according to Flaxbart. With the establishment of Scholars Common, graduate students will have the option of studying in a quiet space or, if they prefer, going to the student landing spot to network with other students.  

In addition, the renovation is a pilot program that may have a bigger impact. After polling key constituencies, the PCL plans to use what it has learned to create larger, more compelling commons to accommodate more people on other floors. 

For now, I just hope that this is a good way to reorganize the space, which can be fully utilized by students’ purposes. 

The PCL is currently completing a survey seeking the opinions of graduate students, faculty, post-docs and staff about the services, spaces and technology support they wish the library could provide. To participate in this survey, visit the following link:

Liu is an associate editor.

Photo Credit: Ellyn Snider | Daily Texan Staff

While students snacked on pizza, Jaimie Davis, nutritional sciences assistant professor, discussed the difference between counting carbs and measuring fat intake at the Perry-Castañeda Library on Wednesday.

As part of UT Libraries’ “Research and Pizza” series, Davis said weight loss is often in the forefront of the minds of college students, as many are subject to weight gain within their first year.

“It’s actually not the freshman 15. Research actually shows it’s more like 3 to 8 pounds that freshmen gain when they go to college,” Davis said. “A lot of that has to do with a decrease in activity, and, also, you’re eating differently. You have access to cafeterias and, of course, alcohol consumption does play a role in that.”

Davis spoke about the differences between diets that focus on reduction of carbohydrates versus fat intake.

“In the last 10 years, we’ve seen a big debate on whether it’s low carb or low fat and which diet is better for weight loss,” Davis said. “I don’t know that I’m going to 100 percent answer that question.”

Davis said the pizza served at the event contained between 30 and 40 grams of carbohydrates per slice, making it a food that should be enjoyed rarely.

She showed slides from a recent study from the School of Health at Tulane University. She said the study involved innovative tactics to study weight loss between diets reducing fat and carb intake.

“They did 24-hour diet recalls, which is the state-of-the-art way to measure diet. Measuring diet is actually fairly challenging in our field, but diet recalls are the best way to do it,” Davis said. “You call and ask everything they ate the previous day.”

University librarian Roxanne Bogucka said Davis’ research for weight loss applies to more than just college students.

“Her research focuses on designing and disseminating nutrition, physical activity and [behavior] to reduce obesity and related metabolic disorders in overweight minority children and adolescents,” Bogucka said.

Davis said her conclusion on the difference between diets is miniscule but warns that starving yourself will not lead to a lasting diet.

“Both diets respond with very similar weight loss, and any diet that you do where you cut calories down, you’ll see very similar reductions in weight loss,” Davis said. “Obviously, if you’re on a diet, and you’re always hungry, I guarantee you’re not going to stay on that diet for long.”

Pharmacy senior Andrea Laguado said Davis’ argument about a lasting diet makes sense to her.

“I agree with what she said, that you just have to make [eating healthy] a lifetime thing, versus using a diet,” Laguado said. “I don’t use diets ever, and I was a nutrition major.”

Austin police prepare to enter Calhoun Hall on the South Mall Tuesday morning after a gunman opened fire near the Littlefield fountain and later fatally shot himself on the sixth floor of the Perry-Castañeda Library. Austin Police Department and SWAT officers suspected an additional gunman was in Calhoun Hall but quickly determined the shooter acted alone.

Photo Credit: Tamir Kalifa | Daily Texan Staff

Four years ago, at 8:10 a.m. on Sept. 28, a 19-year old mathematics sophomore began firing an AK-47 near Littlefield Fountain. With the police and university officials soon in his pursuit, the student moved to the Perry-Castañeda Library until he eventually turned the gun on himself. Though the PCL shooting occurred before many of us came to campus, most know of the sad occasion. In its remembrance, the Forum page has dedicated some space for students and professors to reflect on the day’s happenings. 

At the same time, this Forum issue has left some space to discuss a current matter plaguing students in the hope that even in times of tragedy, we remember the importance of looking forward and finding purpose in the tiny details, and sometimes trivial matters, of day-to-day life. 

Malik is a Plan II, business honors and finance junior from Austin.



The University installed a solar-powered charging station outside the Art Building and Museum in June. The station can charge up to six cell phones, laptops or electrical bikes at a time.

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

After four years of preparation, the University installed two solar-powered charging stations, one outside the Perry-Castañeda Library and the other outside the Art Building and Museum, in June.

While other campuses such as Stanford University and Hampshire College have introduced similar charging stations, these stations are the first solar-powered, permanent fixtures on the UT campus. Powered through a roof composed of three solar panels, each station can charge up to six cell phones, laptops or electrical bikes at a time, among other electronics. Each station's six batteries allow users to charge their electronics at nighttime and on cloudy days.

The Green Fee Committee, an on-campus organization made up of students, faculty and staff members, decided in 2010 to fund the student proposal for the charging stations as part of its mission to support environmental-conscious campus initiatives. Karen Blaney, program coordinator of the Green Fee Committee, said while the stations may not significantly offset the use of fossil fuel-based energy on campus, they can teach students and community members about solar energy in an interactive way.

“It reminds people that solar energy is an option and that it’s a growing technology,” Blaney said.

During her freshman year, Megan Archer, environmental and biological sciences senior, pushed the original proposal for a solar-power project on campus as part of a class assignment with now-alumni Eric Swanson and Austin Jorn. She said her team originally had proposed solar panel roofs on University buildings, but budgetary restraints stood in the way. They decided to stick with their idea of solar-powered technology because they wanted to see solar energy on campus for the first time.

“We liked the idea of how restrictive [working with solar power] was,” Archer said. “UT didn’t have anything that was solar-powered then.”

Archer collaborated with Beth Ferguson, a UT alumna and founder of Sol Design Lab, a design company that has helped create solar charging stations at other universities, to rent a temporary charging station for the PCL plaza in 2012. During workshops, students in environmental science classes contributed ideas for the final model

During workshops, students in environmental science classes contributed ideas for the final model.

“Solar power is hard to understand, so we wanted the project to be hands-on,” Archer said. “We wanted students to have that hands-on experience with our solar station to create their own and modify [their stations] to meet their needs.”

With funding from the Green Fee Committee and the Science Undergraduate Research Group, the customized charging stations, which cost about $60,000 each, were constructed.

Nicholas Phillips, mechanical engineering senior and president of student group Engineers for a Sustainable World, said he hopes the demand for renewable energy products increases on campus.

“The main hindrance with renewable energy advancements is the lack of awareness of the current technologies that are available,” Phillips said in an email. “By having more projects on campus, we are making sustainability become a staple in our campus and by extensions our lives.”

The final phase of the charging station project will include a customized touch screen device, which will display the station's available stored energy, according to Blaney. Students are working on a mobile feature, such as a website or phone application, that will allow users to check the station's available energy, Blaney said.

The University will celebrate the installation of the charging stations on Sept. 19 outside the Art Building and Museum with a series of solar energy workshops.

This doodle, from one of the Perry-Castañeda Library's whiteboards, was uploaded to the UT Libraries Flickr account online.

Photo Credit: Frank Meaker | Guest

Students who sought relief from end-of-the-year stresses by doodling on the whiteboards in the Perry-Castañeda Library just might be famous on Flickr.

Beginning in the spring of 2010, the library staff began uploading whiteboard drawings to photo albums on Flickr during the finals period. Some students write snarky and inspirational phrases, while others draw longhorns or superheroes.

The photos are taken throughout the semester and are examples of how students find relief during stressful times.

"It's been real, it's been fun, but it ain't been real fun," read a drawing uploaded May 9.

Library staff said students have responded positively to their newfound Internet fame and have begun signing their work. In just five days, the spring 2013 photo album received more than 8,000 views on Flickr. The fall 2012 album got more than 75,000 hits aftert UT shared it on its main Facebook page. 

"I think it's art therapy," said Perry-Castañeda Library spokesman Travis Willmann, who uploads the images and manages the Flickr page. "I think it's there to creatively and constructively blow off some steam during some pretty intense work during this time of year."

The Flickr albums are not well-known, but some students have become aware this is an ongoing project, Willman said.  

"We have a regular now, and he is signing his artwork," Willmann said. "He does it on a pretty regular basis."

The most recent uploaded artwork from this student, whose signature is sadly not legible, looks to be a soldier from the popular "Halo" series, limping forward without an arm.

"Push on through," the caption on the photo reads. "It's almost over." 

The last day of finals for most students is Tuesday. Graduation ceremonies begin on Friday and the main commencement is this Saturday.

Until then, it's back to the drawing boards. 

To see more photos from the Perry-Castañeda Library's whiteboards, check out this slideshow below:


As they look back over this past semester and ahead to the next one, Student Government president Thor Lund and vice-president Wills Brown said they are happy with what they see.

Brown and Lund announced later gym hours at Gregory Gym and the Recreational Sports Center on Wednesday night, the latest in a series of goals they met this past fall. Gregory Gym will now stay open until 1 a.m. and the Recreational Sports Center will stay open until 11 p.m.

“When Thor and I were freshmen, those were the hours,” Brown said. “The cutback was hard on us and from other students we heard from.”

With gym hours expanded, Brown and Lund said they are now looking forward to the spring, when their primary goal will be advocating for UT during the legislative session. Along with the Graduate Student Assembly, Senate of College Councils and other student organizations on campus, Student Government will lobby through a campaign called Invest In Texas.

“Every week we have meetings with the operational committee, going over platform, finalizing our points and preparing for what we need to do for winter break,” Lund said.

Among other requests, the Invest in Texas platform asks the Legislature to allow UT to decide its own admissions policy, determine its own campus gun policy and give the UT System student regent and the student representative on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board a vote in decisions.

Currently, Student Government is attempting to get outdoor water fountains built on campus.

“You got to promote hydration,” Brown said. “I’ve walked on campus and wished for an outdoor water fountain, because sometimes you don’t know where the water fountains are inside. And that’s odd.”

After asking for student input, Brown and Lund requested UT facilities install outdoor water fountains at Perry-Castañeda Library, near the intersection of Speedway and 24th Street and outside Robert Lee Moore Hall.

Although Lund and Brown expect Invest in Texas to keep them busy this spring, they said they were equally busy this past fall.

On the first day of classes and during their first student body YouTube address, Lund and Brown announced the Perry-Castañeda Library would start functioning on a 24/5 schedule midway through the semester.

“We’ve had students who we don’t know come up to us and thank us for making the PCL 24/5,” Brown said. “That was a huge deal for me.”

The initiative costs around $40,000 per year, of which the Student Services Budget Committee, the University Libraries and the Provost’s Office split the costs. When Lund and Brown met with the University’s administration about making the Perry-Castañeda Library 24/5, Brown said they were supportive.

“It was on us to find the money, but the administration was there to help us,” Brown said.

As an unexpected side effect, Travis Willmann, spokesperson for the Perry-Castañeda Library, said the library saw an 11.8 percent increase in visitors from October of last year compared to October of this year.

Lund and Brown also expanded Student Government this semester, creating the new Longhorn Entrepreneurship Agency. Lund and Brown created the Longhorn Entrepreneurship Agency to increase support to student entrepreneurs.

“We want our entrepreneurial students to be as celebrated as our athletes,” Lund said.

Lund and Brown also restructured intramural sports, adding a basketball league to the fall and a football league to the spring. Brown said sign-ups for basketball in the fall filled up quickly, and he suspects sign-ups for football in the spring will fill up just as rapidly.

Printed on Friday, December 7, 2012 as: SG anticipates spring initiatives 

SURE Walk, a free Student Government service that aims to protect students walking during late hours, moved its headquarters to the Perry-Castañeda Library in hopes of better serving students and increasing its visibility.

The agency provides volunteers to escort students, faculty and staff walking to or from campus between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. A male and a female volunteer from trusted student organizations provide the walks.

“Our goal is no one walks alone at night,” SURE Walk director Ben Johnson said. “It’s about creating a movement of students helping students.”

Johnson said the agency decided to move to a visible location at the entrance of the PCL after it saw increased foot traffic when it started operating on a 24/5 schedule in October. Travis Willmann, spokesperson for the PCL, said the library saw an 11.8 percent increase from 223,115 visitors in October last year to 249,585 visitors in October this year.

“We have a lot of freshmen incoming that weren’t used to using the library in high school to study, and it may have taken all this publicity with 24/5 to make students realize this was a place where they could come and do a lot of studying,” Willmann said.

Normally, Willmann said, visits to the PCL usually increase 1-4 percent annually. Because PCL was 24/5 for only half of October, Willmann said he expects visits to increase between 20 and 25 percent in November.

Johnson said because of this increase in foot traffic at the PCL, he hopes more students will learn about SURE Walk.

“The goal is for more students to see SURE Walk when they leave the library,” Johnson said. “A lot of students have approached the desk.”

Last year, SURE Walk was located in the Student Activity Center and before that it was in the Flawn Academic Center. Johnson said a lot of people did not see or hear about SURE Walk in these locations so they did not know what it was.

“Our biggest hope is people will find out what SURE Walk is,” Johnson said. “We’ve been doing a big publicity push this semester.”

Johnson said SURE Walk averages five requests a night, but he hopes to increase to 10 or 12 each night next semester. He said since moving to the PCL, the agency has seen a small increase in number of walks requested.

Wills Brown, vice president of UT’s Student Government, said SURE Walk will stay in the PCL next semester, when the library will no longer be 24/5, until mid-semester. Brown said SURE Walk stops working at 2 a.m., the time the library normally closes before 24/5 starts again.

Printed on Monday, Nov. 26, 2012 as: SURE Walk moves headquarters to PCL

Starting Sunday, the Perry-Castañeda Library will remain open 24 hours a day on weekdays. We asked students standing outside the PCL what they think about the new development, a result of Student Government’s effort, and if they plan to make use of the extended hours.

“I think I’ll probably use it now because midterms are coming, and I know that it wasn’t open 24 hours until finals [before 24/5]…During the week, that’s still kind of hard because we have class during the week too so it would be hard to use if you have morning classes.”
— Daphne Delgado, Spanish and nursing junior

“I probably won’t because I go to sleep at midnight, but it’s nice for other people.”
— Maria de la Garza, international relations and global studies sophomore

“I think it’s awesome, but I live really far, so I don’t like walking back by myself.”
— Ale Siller, biology sophomore

“I don’t study at the library. I study in my room all the time.”
— Adrienne Gonzales, biology sophomore

“I would use it because you never know when you have something that needs to be done…Having 24-hour access to Internet is a great benefit to me, so I’ll use it.”
— Amber Doyle, undeclared freshman

“Yeah, I’ll probably be using it, at least during finals time, because it’s more comfortable than other places I could go in the middle of the night to study.”
—Alex Dodge, architectural engineering freshman

“I live off campus, but if I lived on campus or somewhere close I would use it.”
— Floyd Miller, kinesiology sophomore

“I will use it because I can study any time I want to, and I won’t bother my roommate.”
— Tryphosa Asamoah, undeclared freshman

Thao Le, a student associate at the Perry-Castañeda Library, loads books onto shelves Tuesday afternoon. The PCL will operate on a 24-hour basis starting mid-October as part of a Student Government initiative.

Photo Credit: Zachary Strain | Daily Texan Staff

To provide students with a safe study space late on campus this semester, the Perry-Castañeda Library will operate on a 24-hour basis starting mid-October.

After a Student Government initiative, the PCL will operate on a 24-hour basis five days a week, or 24/5, starting during this semester’s midterms. The library will be open for 24 hours Sunday through Friday, closing at 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday evening. Last year the latest the library was open was until 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday.

The initiative will cost around $40,000 per year, which will pay for a new security guard and additional maintenance and upkeep costs. The Student Services Budget Committee is paying for half, and University Libraries and the Provost’s Office are splitting the rest.

Travis Willmann, spokesperson for the University of Texas Libraries, said the library will not extend the hours it checks out books, operates the Information and Research Help Desk and offers other librarian services, but will function as a safe study space for students late at night.

Student body president and vice president Thor Lund and Wills Brown won the election with the goal of 24-hour library in their platform. Brown said they campaigned as the “24-hour PCL guys.”

Lund said it is also potentially a safety hazard to kick students out at 2 a.m. because some buses don’t run that late. Brown said the library will remain safe late at night with a security guard at the front desk and another one patrolling the library.

“After 10 p.m. you still have to show your student ID, so I think in terms of safety concerns we’ve addressed most of them,” Brown said.

The PCL operated on a 24-hour basis in the early 2000s, but the University reduced its hours after a decrease in student traffic late at night. Willmann said students weren’t using the library’s resources that late because they didn’t need the books, but now they need the study space.

“Students are less reliable on books and more reliable on space and electronic access,” Willmann said. “There have been very dramatic changes in the way students use the library. We’ve reached the point when students really like and need this space.”

The John Peace Library at UT-San Antonio operates on a 24/5 basis. Unlike UT-Austin’s student-led initiative, the John Peace Library operates on this schedule starting the first day of class. Staff at the John Peace Library are available to check books out to students at all times, and the school does not require students to show an ID to enter.

UTSA spokeswoman Anne Peters said UT-San Antonio is not in the middle of an urban area. Therefore, it does not have the same safety concerns as UT-Austin might. She said operating a library 24 hours has led to some unusual occurrences.

“In the past year or so, we’ve had someone dressed up in a Wookiee costume from Star Wars, and come to the library in the middle of the night and high-five students,” Peters said. “We think it’s somebody who just wants to give students a spirit lift in the middle of the night.”

Correction on Aug. 29: The print version of the story stated it would cost $40,000 a semester to keep the PCL open 24 hours for five days. The $40,000 is actually the total cost for the year.