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."

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November
 
 
 
 
 
 
1
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
College of Pharmacy Open House
Iron Pour
UK Women's Choir 20th Anniversary Concert
Adventure Hiking & Rappelling @ Red River Gorge
Pickin' Time Mountain Music and Harvest Day
Purposeful Retirement: Planning Your Next Stage of Life
Diwali Dhoom 2014
Sat
2
UK Percussion Ensemble
Day Hike
Curator Tour: Take My Word For It
Sun
3
Industry Career Week: Resumes and Cover Letters
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Morehead State
Mon
4
Industry Career Week: How to Impress Your Boss in 90 Days
Rock Star Professionalism Series
UK Lab Band
Tue
5
Industry Career Week: Networking and Job Search
Social Enterprise and Innovation / Certified Nonprofit Professional Program Informational Meeting
Circle of Love Name Distribution
Appalachian Forum with Dr. Fran Ansley
Dana Harper Gallery Reception
Wed
6
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Zona Sur
LNFS Presents: The Grand Budapest Hotel
UK Jazz Ensemble
Circle of Love Name Distribution
Abstract Workshop
Lauren Potter
Thu
7
LNFS Presents: V for Vendetta
Last Day to Withdraw or Reduce Course Load
Circle of Love Name Distribution
R.C. May Photography Lecture Series: Marvin Heiferman
Men's Soccer vs. Charlotte
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Georgia
Free Friday Evening Swing Dance
Fri
8
Kentucky Football vs. Georgia
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
The Power of Poetry
The Lexington Lowdown and Free Lindy Hop Workshop
Swing Dance Featuring Live music by"The Metrognomes Orchestra"
Sat
9
UK Combos Concert
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Missouri
Sun
10
Circle of Love Name Distribution
Mon
11
UK Sax Ensembles
Job Club - Interviewing Strategies
Undergraduate Research Information Session
Jose Abisambra Presentation on Current Alzheimer's Research
Women of the World: Judy Smith
Tue
12
Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: Reservoir Dogs
Refugee Life in America
#UKEDTALKS: International Opportunities for Education Majors
Leadership Assessment
Wed
13
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Iron Man 3
Chili and Pie Cook-Off Supper
#TrendingTopics: Vegetarians vs. Meat-Eaters
Campus Polar Plunge to benefit Special Olympics KY
LNFS Presents: La Demora
Thu
14
LNFS Presents: Pretty in Pink
LNFS Presents: Mean Girls
Fri
15
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Sat
16
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Florida
Greek Cinematography: Critical Approach and Discussion
"Storied Streets" Documentary Showing about Experiences of Homelessness
Sun
17
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
UK Rep Bands Concert
College of Agriculture, Food & Environment 2014 Celebration of Land-Grant Research
Amanda Rogers, "Black Flags, ISIS 'Swag' & Jihadi Rap: Marketing Militancy after the Arab Spring"
Stories of Homelessness: Panel Discussion
Mon
18
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
A Positive Approach to Caregiving Conference
Education Abroad Open House
CatWatch Party
Appalachian Forum and Film Screening of "Up the Ridge"
Tue
19
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
LNFS Presents: The Princess and the Frog
Pinterest Party
International Games Day
Global Design with Phil Duncan
Caregiver Support Group
OXFAM Social Issues Banquet
Wed
20
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
Much Ado About Nothing
LNFS Presents: I Travel Because I Have To, I Come Back Because I Love You
LNFS Presents: The Big Lebowski
International Education Week Keynote Speaker: Christie Vilsack, Senior Advisor for International Education at USAID
Tobacco-free Tailgate 5 Year Anniversary
Bollywood Night
Thu
21
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
Much Ado About Nothing
LNFS Presents: Water For Elephants
4th Annual Markesbery Symposium on Aging & Dementia
Freedom from Fear: On Black Childhood and Other Dangers
Bouldering @ Stone Fort
MEAT.
Fri
22
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
Much Ado About Nothing
Bouldering @ Stone Fort
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Sat
23
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
Much Ado About Nothing
Bouldering @ Stone Fort
UK Symphony Band and UK Concert Band
Sun
24
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
Free Thanksgiving Shuttle to Blue Grass Airport
Mon
25
Free Thanksgiving Shuttle to Blue Grass Airport
Job Club - What is your money habitude?
Multicultural Student Thanksgiving Dinner
Tue
26
Thanksgiving - Academic Holidays
Free Thanksgiving Shuttle to Blue Grass Airport
Wed
27
Thanksgiving - Academic Holidays
Thu
28
Thanksgiving - Academic Holidays
Fri
29
Thanksgiving - Academic Holidays
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Arkansas
Sat
30
 
Sun
 
 
 
 
 
 

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