By Tom Koch
To help prepare for the 50th anniversary of the founding of The University of Texas at Dallas in 2019 and to assemble a great variety of historic material that is currently scattered across campus entities, Eugene McDermott Library has hired the first University Archivist in school history.
It is another “coming of age” step for the university.
The challenge will be met by Ty Lovelady, who has been a key figure in the development of the Vietnam Center and Archive at Texas Tech University. He started at the Vietnam Archive more than 10 years ago while finishing his Master’s thesis in Lubbock. Promoted to Associate Archivist at Tech, Lovelady was responsible for, among many other things, collection accessioning, processing, digitation supervision and donor relations.
“First, I have to get a handle on whatever we have in the library that would relate to the University Archive,” Lovelady said. “Then make some sense out of it, find gaps, and go after that material.”
The new archivist will focus on retiring faculty and longtime employees. Lovelady plans to eventually get all university departments, schools, staff and students involved in retention and transfer of university archives.
“There is a non-traditional student population here not seen at other Texas schools,” he said. “There is a considerable number of international students. I would like to involve the students and student organizations, too.”
“It is critical that we prepare now for the 50th anniversary by collecting material and university history before more longtime employees and associates retire,” said Ellen Safley, Director of Libraries. “There is a lot of work needed to organize and preserve a central archive that provides meaning and descriptions of material that people can research in a professional manner.”
In 2008 UT Dallas’ Office of Communications, Media Relations Office, Web Services and McDermott Library spearheaded a 40th Anniversary Celebration by gathering documents, photographs, oral histories and such. A website was created to digitally present an historic timeline that had not been fully developed before.
Lovelady is based in Special Collections where some of the UT Dallas archives have been unofficially housed during the past decade.
While Lovelady has a strong background in archival digitization, he still believes that preservation of actual documents and photographs is essential. “I favor digitizing archives to show what we have and to save space,” he said. “I also come from the school of thought that believes in preserving the physical piece. You have to decide whether or not you are keeping a document for its intrinsic value or for the information it provides.”
He received a Master of Arts in History from Texas Tech in 2002 and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Entomology there in 1996. He was presented the Vietnam Center and Archive’s 2008 Faculty and Staff Appreciation Award.
Raised on a cotton farm in far West Texas, Lovelady studied entomology based on its relation to agriculture. Despite that, he admits his first love is history. At Texas Tech he became involved in the Southwest Collection that featured collections from area ranches. In that assignment he delved into manuscript processing.
From the Southwest Collection he moved several dozen feet away to Tech’s Vietnam Archive where he further learned the mechanics of a major university archive.
Lovelady can be reached at [email protected] 972-883-2110 or UT Dallas mailstop MC 33. His office is MC 3.540.