our nations’ policymakers about the reality of how the future of the information
age will be won.
And while our institutions will not come through this crisis unscathed, I
remain fundamentally optimistic about the role of our research universities in
moving our nations, our societies, forward.
For centuries, American and Canadian
universities have been leaders in
supporting societal progress and
adaptation. Now, as countries struggle to
recover their footing after the economic
crisis, universities are once again called upon to serve as both models and
drivers of change.
And, while we are inventing new ways to adapt to our rapidly changing
surroundings, to make our tangible contributions to the knowledge society—
locally and globally—more powerful and more visible, we must also protect the
less measurable—but equally important—role for the development, expression,
and communication of ideas.
Evolving Characteristics of Research Libraries
I was honored last summer to be appointed to a US National Research Council
Committee studying American research universities that will be reporting in to
Congress this summer. The mandate of this committee is to identify actions to
help American research universities maintain their excellence in the 21st century.12
Serving on this committee has provided me with a unique perspective on the
ways that research universities are evolving, and can and must evolve further, in
response to their changing environment. Though every institution is different, I
believe that our research universities will continue to play the fundamental role
they do, to the extent that they are entrepreneurial, connected, and balanced.
Let’s start with entrepreneurial. “Entrepreneurship” and even “innovation”
are words that can sit uncomfortably with academics, especially when we are
under intense pressure by government and society to quantify the value of our
contributions. Universities are not the private sector, nor should they be. But
innovation and entrepreneurship can dwell together, effectively, at the heart of
modern academic life. What drives us, after all, but our commitment to new
ideas, and to figuring out how to use these ideas to make the world a better place?
The era of the isolated ivory tower, if it ever existed, is long gone. Societies look—
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5
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
Though every institution is different, I believe that
our research universities will continue to play the
fundamental role they do, to the extent that they
are entrepreneurial, connected, and balanced.
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