Amy Jones-Timoney

By

College: Libraries

UK Leader's Career Archived in University History

Published: Nov 2, 2012

 

 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 2, 2010) — Terry Birdwhistell understands – more than virtually anyone – what is really among the rows of books and periodicals that fill the W.T. Young Library at the University of Kentucky.

 

He understands the real value in the stacks of yellowed paper stored in mountains of boxes and the digital recordings that comprise UK’s immense oral history collection.

 

Together, of course, they impart knowledge.

 

But, collectively, they stand ready to tell people of a particular time and place, of its people and of institutions, like UK, that continue to speak to us over the passage of time.

       

Birdwhistell knows that an exploration of our past tells us something profoundly important about our future.

 

“I think the opportunity to interview university leaders over the last 35 years has given me insight of what people have tried to do to make this place better,” said Birdwhistell, dean of the UK Libraries. “The commitment that it takes to make it work and also the philosophy that at a place like the University of Kentucky, each generation plants seeds that the next generation harvests.”

 

Although Birdwhistell has only been dean of UK Libraries since 2010, his career at UK has spanned some four decades, starting from his time as a graduate student in the 1970s.

 

Today, he oversees a UK Libraries budget that exceeds $21 million. The collections comprise 4 million volumes, including more than 55,000 serial subscriptions and some 400 online databases. During his nearly four decades at UK, he also has served as associate dean for special collections and digital programs, university archivist and director of the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History.

 

Birdwhistell helped found the UK Libraries’ Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center. As an oral historian, he has conducted more than 800 oral history interviews with Kentuckians — including many UK presidents and governors — from all parts of the Commonwealth. He also has interviewed notable national figures such as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Lady Bird Johnson.

 

Birdwhistell started working as an oral historian in the UK libraries after graduating from Georgetown College. He had a master’s degree in history from UK, but decided to pursue graduate work in library science. It was during that period that the university instituted an employee education program that allows UK employees to pursue coursework and degrees for free.

 

Birdwhistell received his doctorate in educational policy studies, focusing his dissertation on the history of women at UK through World War II. Birdwhistell was able to use interviews he had done with women who had graduated from UK as early as 1912.

 

“I tell students that when it comes time to do a dissertation, pick something that you like working on because it will get really old quickly if you don’t enjoy the topic," he said. “I tell people I’m not in a bowling league and I don’t play golf you know, so I just wrote a dissertation.”

 

Birdwhistell has been a mentor to scores of UK students and scholars who have taken his class in oral history or who just want to understand better the rich tradition of the nearly 150-year-old flagship university.

 

“I understand that our job here is to make sure that we leave the place better than we found it,” Birdwhistell says. “So, that’s what I’m trying to do — is make sure we keep this library moving forward … I think part of our role at the University of Kentucky is to graduate students that have both technical knowledge and have knowledge of discipline, but also we want them to have an overall knowledge of how to get information and how to use information because that will help them in any career."

birdwhistell_see_leadership.jpgspotlightcovertbirdwhistell.jpg121016ukfallcolormc405.jpg
September
 
1
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Labor Day - Academic Holiday
Mon
2
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Internship Info Session
Student/Faculty/Staff Mixer
Tue
3
Employee Educational Assistance Award
LNFS Presents: The Wolf of Wall Street
Last Day to Add a Class
Last Day to Drop a Course with 80% Refund
UK Volunteer Fair
Wed
4
LNFS Presents: Children of Men
LNFS Presents: How To Train Your Dragon 2
Black and Latino Male Initiative
Advance Your Swagger: A Night with Fonzworth Bentely
Thu
5
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Northern Iowa
Kentucky Volleyball vs. USC
LNFS Presents: Spirited Away
LNFS Presents: Mulan
Fri
6
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Kentucky Football vs. Ohio
#maxfest (Ukirklex Campus Ministry)
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Creighton
Lets Swing Dance!
Sat
7
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Morehead State
Sun
8
Diversity Organization's Council
Kosher/Soul? (Jewish, African American & Appalachian culture Fuse)
Mon
9
Working Moms Connection
Job Club - Job Search Strategies for Fall
Rock Star Professionalism Series
Tue
10
Massage on the Go
College: Do the Right Thing- A conversation with Dr. Smith
The Future of Islam
LNFS Presents: Fight Club
Wed
11
9/11 Vigil
UKNABJ presents: Ferguson, Missouri: A look at media, politics and black youth in the U.S.
LNFS Presents: Mr & Mrs Smith
Duo Damiana, Molly Barth and Dieter Hennings
LNFS Presents: 22 Jump Street
Thu
12
LNFS Presents: Searching For Sugarman
LNFS Presents: Sin City
Fri
13
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Men's Soccer vs. ETSU
Sat
14
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Pepperdine
Sun
15
Kentucky Week Farmer's MarCat and Craft Fair
Majestic U.N.I.T.Y.
Mon
16
Justice Delayed not Justice Denied: A Talk with Dough Jones
PRHBTN Gallery Reception and Concert
Men's Soccer vs. Xavier
Chellgren Seminar Series: Buck Ryan
Tue
17
Internship Info Session
Last Day to Drop a Course Without Appearing on Transcript
Caregiver Support Group
LNFS Presents: The Immigrant
Big Blue Commonwealth
Wed
18
LNFS Presents: Watermark
LNFS Presents: X-Men: Days of Future Past
Ryan Gardner Guest Trumpet Recital
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Lipscomb
Thu
19
LNFS Presents: A Band Called Death
LNFS Presents: Prisoners
The Case for Fossil Fuels-PEIK Seminar
Men's Soccer vs. Furman
Fri
20
Rock Climbing @ Red River Gorge
College of Pharmacy Open House
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Xavier
Sat
21
 
Sun
22
Diana Ferrus: 'Writing poetry has allowed me to live': Cultural Resistance in South Africa
Kentucky Law Schools Forum
Mon
23
Pinterest Party
University of Kentucky Chamber Winds
Employer Showcase
Job Club - 10 Questions to Ask Prior to Starting a Business
Men's Soccer vs. Lousville
Tue
24
Employer Showcase
Last Day to Drop a Course with 50% Refund
UK Elder Care Lunch & Learn
BPH Open House
Documentary Film Screening - Heaven + Earth + Joe Davis
LNFS Presents: Saving Mr. Banks
Wed
25
LNFS Presents: Culture Jam
LNFS Presents: Maleficent
¡Baila!
Thu
26
LNFS Presents: Ponyo
LNFS Presents: The Little Mermaid
Opening Night Bohemiam Festival
White Water Rafting @ Chattooga River
Women's Soccer vs. Mississippi State
Fri
27
White Water Rafting @ Chattooga River
Kentucky Football vs. Vanderbilt
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Green Apple Day of Service: "Pick It Up"
Garba Night
Swing Dancing!
Sat
28
White Water Rafting @ Chattooga River
UK Chorale
Dirty Dancing Trip
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Auburn
Sun
29
 
Mon
30
#TrendingTopics: Immigration Reform
Apollo Duo - Flute and Percussion Guest Recital
Tue
 
 
 
 

Mon, 09/22/2014

Repeats every day until Wed Sep 24 2014 .
Tue, 09/23/2014

Reset Page