Archivist Charged With Preserving University’s Past
Feb. 16, 2012
To preserve the pieces of UT Dallas’ past, the Eugene McDermott Library has hired the school’s first university archivist.
The new specialist, Ty Lovelady, will collect and catalog materials now housed in multiple locations across campus in work that will be crucial to the University’s preparations for its 50th anniversary in 2019.
He comes to UT Dallas from Texas Tech, where he was a key figure in the development of that university's Vietnam Center and Archive.
“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 Director of Libraries Ellen Safley. “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.”
Lovelady will work with all of the University’s departments and schools to make sure essential materials are retained and collected. “I would like to involve the students and student organizations, too,” Lovelady said.
He is based in McDermott Library’s Special Collections Department, where some UT Dallas archives have been unofficially housed during the past decade. The library worked with the UT Dallas Office of Communications to assemble collections of documents, photographs, oral histories and more in celebration of the University’s 40th anniverary in 2009.
“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.”
Lovelady began work at the Vietnam Archive more than 10 years ago while he was finishing his master’s thesis at Texas Tech. He has a strong background in archival digitization but believes that preservation of actual documents and photographs remains 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.”
Raised on a cotton farm in far West Texas, he first studied agricultural entomology and earned his bachelor’s at Texas Tech in 1996 before turning to the study of history. He earned his master’s in history at Tech in 2002.
Lovelady first worked in the Tech library’s Southwest Collection, which featured collections from area ranches, before moving to Tech’s Vietnam Archive.