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Gary Woods
Gary Woods

UTSA Spotlight: Librarian Gary Woods likes working in the middle of the city with links to the music and art scene

By James Benavides
Public Affairs Specialist

(Feb. 29, 2008)--Students at the UTSA Downtown Campus come to Gary Woods for answers, but he doesn't give any. As an instructional services librarian at the Downtown Campus library, he has been teaching students how to find their own answers. Since 1997, he has taught students and classes how to ask the questions and conduct the research that leads to great papers.

"My work is about helping students," says Woods. "They bring in their research papers and end up talking their ideas through with you. We help them -- we aren't just going to let them go off in every direction."

Over 10 years, things have gotten more interesting downtown, Woods says. With two colleges based at the Downtown Campus, his responsibilities have expanded, particularly as a bibliographer. For the College of Public Policy, he is responsible for acquiring materials on urban planning, public administration and nonprofit studies. For the College of Architecture, things are a little more challenging.

"Right now, I'm helping build the College of Architecture collection," Woods explains. "A lot of the big architecture schools have been around for 100 years. UTSA's architecture program is relatively new by comparison. It's interesting and fun to search for these rare books that date back to the 1920s. They're absolutely beautiful."

The need for support materials has grown over the years, along with the campus and the enrollment. Woods recalls that in the first month of operation, the Downtown Campus library was based in a classroom. Its second home was in the Frio Street Building where the computer lab currently is located. And now, the library occupies 19,000 square feet in the Buena Vista Street building. Woods sometimes calls it a living room or retreat -- a quiet public space at the heart of the campus in the center of the city.

Ten years of looking at the downtown skyline through the library windows and watching students learn and grow have helped Woods develop a personal outlook on the Downtown Campus. He believes the campus galleries and theaters help link it with the local music and arts scene as the host for various events. The campus establishes UTSA's presence in the urban center and it has a role in community outreach as a place where young students in middle and high school come for summer programs.

"It's a great place to work," he says, "and we're right here in the middle of the city."

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