Community Engagement

Fondren’s world-class collection of materials supports internal and external researchers and raises awareness of the library’s collections, facilities, and programs.

  • Fondren staff contribute materials to the multiple Little Free Libraries which appeared on campus during the pandemic. Staff members contribute personal items, and Fondren Library shares duplicate items already in our collection with these Little Free Libraries. “Fondren Library staff members are eager to work with the Center for Teaching Excellence Fellows on promoting reading on campus, and are excited to see the tiny free libraries added to the campus,” said Sara Lowman, vice provost and university librarian.
  • Fondren’s Green Team actively engaged in moving the library toward a more environmentally conscious campus. The team won an early grant from the American Library Association and has been partnering with Rice groups including the Center for Environmental Studies, and the public, to raise environmental awareness issues.

User Experience collaborations with advisory groups

  • The User Experience Office supported improvements in Fondren Library by facilitating two advisory groups, the undergraduate Fondren Ambassadors, and the Graduate Student Library Advisory Board. Additionally, the UX Office contributed questions to the Office of Institutional Effectiveness Survey of All Students on behalf of Fondren Library. In fall 2020, these questions were crucial as the library navigated pandemic services. A review of the survey results and service improvements based on the data was presented to the University Committee on the Library in March 2021. 

Voter registration drives ahead of 2020 US Election

  • The Fondren Library Volunteer Deputy Voter Registrar (VDVR) group spearheaded a voter registration drive as part of a “massive group effort” across campus that included the Center for Civic Leadership (CCL), Civic Duty Rice, Rice College Republicans, Rice Young Democrats, the Office of Public Affairs, Campus Events, Rice Athletics and others.

Woodson Research Center hosts exhibitions and concerts

  • The WRC collaborated with the student group, Rice for Black Lives, creating the exhibit "Black at Rice: Charter Changes, Desegregation, and Black Firsts.” Staff also worked with Asian American community members to host the exhibit, The Faces of Covid. Additionally, WRC staff provided exhibit planning support for a new permanent exhibit in the BioScience Research Collaborative (BRC) building, which features the groundbreaking artificial heart work of Rice’s Dr. Bill Akers.
  • The Houston Folk Music Archive, in partnership with the Friends of Fondren Library, hosted an online homecoming concert on October 29, 2020, in lieu of their annual in-person event, and featured Vince Bell and Sara Hickman. The virtual event was well-received by attendees.

Fondren partners with Space Physics camp

  • Fondren Library hosted the Solar Academy of Dr. Bradshaw from June 14-June 18, 2021. Students were instructed in library research and attended a book talk from the History of Science Collection in the Woodson Research Center. 
Norie Guthrie with the Solar Academy group in 2021
 Norie Guthrie, Woodson Archive, with students and Galileo's "Dialogo.”


Solar Academy group, 2021.
Debra Kolah, Head of User Experience and Physics Librarian, Fondren Library; Dr. Stephen Bradshaw, Professor of Physics & Astronomy; Mr. Gregory Adragna, Physics Teacher at Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory School; Solar Academy student participants, 2021

Fondren Fellows

The Fondren Fellows program supported efforts to digitize and make available a unique work regarding Black lives and history in Houston, the Red Book of Houston. The culmination of this work was presented to the public in an online panel discussion on April 28, 2021, and featured speakers from partner universities discussing Houston’s unique and storied past.