Back in the day, people who wanted a University of New Mexico campus tour had to call and schedule one. Now, all anyone needs is an app, easily downloaded from iTunes to an iPhone or iPad.
Terry Gugliotta, UNM archivist, developed the application, “UNM Pocket Archivist,” with technical help from student Torran Kahleck, who is originally from Minnesota, but married a UNM graduate. He said, “Being so new to campus, it was working on the app with Terry that really got me oriented. I was able to use its map to find where my classes were and how to get to them. Not only did it help me get a sense of how the campus is laid out, but it also really helped be appreciate the campus, its history, and how people in the community view it.”
“Four tours are readily available. One covers historical buildings, architecture and cultural landscapes,” Gugliotta said. She honed in on the buildings erected prior to 1970, the same criteria that was used by the UNM Historic Preservation Committee when they got a Getty Campus Heritage Grant.
The building information was drawn from the book, “Only in New Mexico,” by former UNM campus architect Van Dorn Hooker, she said. The app also offers photos of historic buildings from their construction to how they look today. “Information about the departments and points of interest in the building are included, too,” Gugliotta said. Other information includes the date it was built, what its original function was, who it was named for.
For example, for Mitchell Hall, app tourists can find that it was named for Lynn Boal Mitchell, a classics professor from 1912 to 1950. They’ll also discover there’s a café in the building. “And if you focus your camera on the building, the information on that building will come up,” she said.
Kahlech added, “I was interested, and still am, in augmented reality (AR). Terry was pretty receptive to me trying new things and that can be seen in the small AR portion of the Pocket Archivist app, which allows a user to hold the device’s camera up to certain parts of campus and have information given to them about what they’re looking at. It’s not much, and, to be honest, it doesn’t work as seamlessly as I’d like, but I think it was a great introduction for me to that technology.”
From working on the app with Gugliotta, Kahleck probably has a better sense of the campus than many who have been here for years: “A couple of my favorite stories were the story of the Civil War vet turned janitor turned trig instructor and the story of how the Totem Pole was purchased for a couple cases of whiskey and shipped to campus from Alaska. I learned about both of these from Van Dorn Hooker’s book, which we referred to many times while deciding what to include in the app, and Terry was able to fill in missing details, which was fun.”
A second tour focuses on prospective students. “[Director of Admissions and Recruitment] Matt Hulett requested something specific for their use. At that point, I added newer buildings, and made sure to include information such as the Fine Arts and Design Library’s location in George Pearl Hall,” Gugliotta said.
The other two tours focus on the campus arboretum and UNM public art. The app features an interactive map of campus that works even without an Internet connection.
Gugliotta used her years of library training to focus on details. “I scoured the web to make sure information was current and correct. I walked the campus. Just getting all the details about what’s in the Student Union Building was daunting,” she said.
Gugliotta, who has given many tours through the years, plans to retire at year’s end. “I’ve heard people give misinformation when giving tours. I wanted something that would be accurate and easy to use. Now anyone can give a tour and sound knowledgeable,” she said.
UNM Provost Chaouki Abdallah is pleased with what the app provides. He said, “As we go about our daily business on campus, whether that is to attend or teach a class, or go to lunch or a lecture, it is easy to forget the much larger history and community of which we are a part. I hope everyone uses this app and has the same experience I did, which was to feel connected to our great past.”
Gugliotta designed the app to come out in conjunction with UNM's 125th year. "It was a good time to use new technology to share the history of the campus," she said