Enhancing Research at Texas State

Historical account of early Texas gains new exposure through University Libraries digitization project

Researchers across the globe can now interact with history through a state-of-the-art, online exhibition that showcases a Texas State University treasure. The new website celebrates La relación, a book written by Spanish conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca originally published in 1542. The website, exhibits.library.txstate.edu/cabeza, was launched in July 2018 – the culmination of a University Libraries’ team effort to re-digitize Texas State’s rare copy of the 1555 revised edition of the book and create a multi-media informational exhibition. The effort will help historians and scholars research the trailblazing work from anywhere in the world.

“We first digitized the university’s copy of La relación and made it available online 15 years ago, and it has been by far the most accessed resource in our Southwestern Writers Collection,” said Joan Heath, associate vice president and university librarian. “With the advances in digitization technology, we felt it was important to use the state-of-the-art technology and digitization experts here at the library to redo that work and provide an even better online exhibition for scholars, historians, and interested individuals around the world to access.”

La relación tells the story of Cabeza de Vaca and three companions who shipwreck along the Texas coast in 1528. It documents their travels through Texas and into the greater southwest and Mexico, including their encounters with various Native American tribes. The book, which serves as the foundational piece of The Wittliff Collections, was donated to Texas State through the generosity of Bill and Sally Wittliff and an anonymous donor in 1989.

Cabeza de Vaca’s account is of great anthropological and historical importance. In Texas alone, he identifies 23 Native American groups, describing in detail their clothes, languages, eating habits, rituals, homes and migrations. This has made the work very important to middle and high school Texas History classes which often used the previously published website in their curriculum.

“We know teachers have found this work to be invaluable in teaching students about the early inhabitants of Texas,” said The Wittliff Collections Director Dr. David Coleman. “Students find the adventurous aspects of the story to be interesting. This new website format is even more engaging and appealing.”

Coleman and The Wittliff Collections’ curator Steve Davis served on the project team that created the website content. University Libraries Digital and Web Services staff Dr. Ray Uzwyshyn, Todd Peters, Jason Long, Jeremy Moore and Erin Mazzei, and students Grayson Ellsworth and Oscar Martinez utilized new technology known as IIIF, or International Image Interoperability Framework, to provide enhanced image access with faster delivery and manipulation abilities for detail inspection, zooming and panning of
images.

“When people visit the website, it’s almost like they are holding that book in their hands,” said Davis. “I’m particularly excited about this opportunity for us to pay proper homage to Cabeza de Vaca and his extraordinary work.”

The website includes page-by-page images of the book with an English translation next to each page, so people can read the story as written and translated. Dr. Frank de la Teja, a Regents and University Distinguished Professor Emeritus from Texas State University, provides video commentary to help highlight facets of the story and relate the historical significance of Cabeza de Vaca’s journey and experiences. In addition, there is a collection of artwork depicting the journey that links to teaching guides and other resources for further study.

“Having this document in its collections tells the world that Texas State University is serious about being a world-class humanities research institution,” said de la Teja. “It’s vital that we have websites like this one that so eloquently and so artistically represent something that is a real jewel for the university and even for the state and the country.”

By Debbie Pitts

The Launch of the Texas State Dataverse

Dataverse ImageProviding an avenue to store & share research data online

I believe in open sharing of scientific data

-Dr. Logan Trujillo

Storing, sharing and publishing research data online can be a challenging hurdle in the race to coordinate with research partners, meet funders’ requirements, and preserve important research findings.

In fall 2017 University Libraries launched a new online repository for researchers called Texas State University Dataverse that helps make that hurdle less daunting.

Dataverse is a platform for publishing and archiving research data. The software was originally developed by Harvard University. The Texas State University repository is available to all Texas State students, faculty, and staff. It is part of the Texas Data Repository hosted by the Texas Digital Library (TDL), which includes 22 higher education institutions throughout the state. The Texas Data Repository was created through the collaborative efforts of a consortium and committees consisting of 14 Texas university members, including representatives from Texas State.

For Dr. Logan Trujillo, an assistant professor of psychology, Texas State’s Dataverse was a welcome answer to a pressing need. His research project required not only large datasets and a place to publish and share the data. Researching human brain behavior is predictably complex and requires voluminous datasets for analysis.

“I study human perception and cognition from basic and applied viewpoints,” Trujillo explained. “This research is very data intensive and generates a lot of code for analysis. It is difficult to share because the research requires hundreds of megabytes, if not gigabytes, of data.”

Trujillo’s research was funded through a National Science Foundation grant requiring researchers to demonstrate that they have publicly shared their data.

Fortunately for Trujillo, University Libraries had just launched Dataverse as a free, open-source research data repository. College of Liberal Arts grant proposal reviewers told Trujillo about the new resource.

He found the tool easy to use and was able to enter metadata discoverable by search engines such as Google and Google Scholar. He was pleased that the Dataverse not only met grant requirements for data sharing, but also increased the visibility of his work, which will likely lead to increased citations.

“I think it’s a great tool,” he said. “I believe in open sharing of scientific data. It helps to further scientific research because everyone can check and verify results and build on the work of others.”

Trujillo’s paper and data have received many views. His research will help clinicians better conduct and analyze electrophysiological complexities and brain cognition through EEG monitoring of brain activity.

Texas State University Libraries staff were active in the development of the repository serving on the TDL Dataverse Implementation Working Groups, including the policy and governance, technical configuration, and budget and business model subgroups.

“A key component of the library’s strategic plan is to enable scholarly communication through library technology services,” said Dr. Ray Uzwyshyn, director of collections and digital services for University Libraries. He served on several subcommittees for the platform.

“This project provides a new online resource for faculty and students at Texas State in concert with TDL’s other member universities,” he said. “Our Dataverse serves larger missions fulfilling federal grant requirements for faculty and increasing possibilities for online access, collaboration and sharing on global levels.”

After just under a year, Texas State researchers have stored nearly 1,500 files on Texas State’s Dataverse, ranking Texas State next to the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University in terms of its deposit rate into the Texas Data Repository.

To learn more about the Texas State University Dataverse, visit the Alkek Library’s dataverse web page at (guides.library.txstate.edu/datarepository).

By Debbie Pitts

The 2018 IT Division Almanac is here

2018 IT Division Almanac front page

The 2017-2018 edition of our Division of Information Technology Almanac is online!

The Almanac is packed with stories about the work the division does to make Texas State University great, such as the our website rodeos that helped make better websites across Texas State, opening of the new IT Assistance Center help desk at the Round Rock Campus, and creation of the new Texas Music pillar at The Wittliff Collections.

The people in our division work extremely hard to provide the university community with effective, reliable, and secure technology and library services, and we wanted to share these successes with you. Read the new Almanac today!

Vigilance: How Information Security is Working to Protect

It seems like almost every week you read stories about giant hacks and millions of personal records lost or stolen. Yahoo! recently unveiled that data associated with 3 billion customer accounts was stolen. Equifax was breached and the personal information of 145.5 million people was compromised. MySpace, LinkedIn, eBay, Target – the list of companies from which hackers stole or compromised valuable personal data is long and seemingly always getting longer.

Like the rest of the modern world, Texas State University is not immune to such digital attacks. Using phishing, malware, ransomware and a host of other tactics, criminals from around the world are frequently trying to breach the university’s security to steal data about university students, staff, and faculty. In the face of these constant threats, the team in Texas State’s Information Security Office works diligently every day implementing security measures to protect the university, stopping the attacks they find, and offering education and advice to campus about how to protect themselves and the university both now and into the future.

In late 2016, the Information Security Office became a standalone unit of the Division of Information Technology, with Chief Information Security Officer Dan Owen reporting directly to Ken Pierce, the Vice President for Information Technology. The department was previously known as IT Security and was lower in the structure of the division. The change was meant to ramp up digital security effectiveness at Texas State and raise the level of knowledge and discussion about information security on campus. Information Security’s mission is two-fold: safeguard campus information resources and data, and educate faculty, staff, and students about the best ways to protect both their own and the university’s information resources, including protections from identity theft. At the time of the change, Pierce said, “I believe very strongly that we must have a safe and secure campus information infrastructure.” Texas State is constantly under attack from malicious actors. Would-be criminals make frequent attempts to gain access to everything from faculty and staff NetID credentials to federally protected student and health records. While the attacks are not new, the tactics are ever changing. In 2017, the rate of attacks was on the rise – and the tactics, particularly phishing attacks, have begun to shift their aim to the students.

“It’s a constant battle,” admits Owen.

This year, the security office has taken many steps to help in the battle against cyber criminals; revamping the Information Security website with a new, more user-friendly interface, designed to make it easier to find educational materials, campus outreach events, and other resources. They also developed their first online training course and increased educational outreach both to the information security and university communities through dedicated social media channels, @infosectxst on Twitter and InfoSecTXST on Facebook, with the help of the IT Division’s social media expert Nicholas Dunlap.

By Nicholas Dunlap