reinvest in our libraries, which had suffered during a prior decade of forced
cutbacks. Over the past five years we have devoted an additional $1 million per
year to our libraries, and protected our library investments in the wake of future
economic challenges. This—along with a dedicated and outstanding team of
librarians, a student-elected annual contribution of $400,000, and several other
important gifts from alumni—has allowed us to dramatically increase our
collections, refurbish many of our facilities, expand our opening hours, and
increase our volume and quality of services. I am happy to report that McGill’s
library, and our campus technology
services, have both scored top marks in
the Globe and Mail’s annual Canadian
University Report, for several years
running, based on student surveys.
Colleagues, I know you have all spent
the past two days grappling with the tough
questions that face research libraries in this
age of declining print and exploding
electronic information. This age when elections and revolutions are waged
with the weapon of social media, when global disasters are documented by
“citizen journalists” carrying cell phones, and when the amount of data
circulating around the globe has recently necessitated the coining of a new
term—the “exabyte,” that is, a billion gigabytes—in an attempt to harness
and describe this dizzying acceleration of digital information.
And you stand in that breach—in this second decade of this new
millennium—accepting as you do the extraordinary mission of redesigning the
image and function of the research university library. You already know—better
than anyone—that libraries, and particularly research libraries, are crucial in
managing and evaluating this accelerating revolution in how information affects
and shapes how we think, how we learn, and how we communicate. Where you,
our librarians, and libraries go, research universities will follow. Just as, in my
youth, libraries and librarians opened the door to new worlds of possibility, and
offered me a chance to step in, so too are our research libraries now opening the
door for many of the innovations and adaptations that higher education must
embrace in its continuing evolution.
In my job, I also think a lot about the research university, and have had the
privilege, and obligation, of trying to visualize where research universities are
RLI 276
2
Ahead of the Storm: Research Libraries and the Future of the Research University
(
C O N T I N U E D
)
SEPTEMBER 2011 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A QUARTERLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
You already know—better than anyone—that
libraries, and particularly research libraries, are
crucial in managing and evaluating this
accelerating revolution in how information
affects and shapes how we think, how we
learn, and how we communicate.
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