Jan. 2014 | Return to issue home

From the Vice Provost and Dean

Dean Betsy Wilson / Photo by Cass Redstone

It may seem counterintuitive, but the more time we spend in digital space, the more we long to come together in real space. We see evidence of this in our libraries. Last year, a record five million people crossed the physical threshold of the library.

For many years, the Libraries has been re-conceptualizing its spaces and services. The vast majority of the Libraries collections and content can now be accessed from outside the library walls while individual and collaborative work within the library walls has never been greater. I invite you to visit the research commons in the Allen Library and the newly renovated Odegaard Undergraduate Library to see this phenomenon in action. We are planning more such spaces to bridge the digital and physical worlds in the service of research and learning.

In many ways, we have reshaped Henry Suzzallo’s “cathedral of books” into a 21st century any time any place library. Now, easy-to-use search engines providing access to vast content have changed our daily information expectations. Wonderful opportunities exist to create digital content from our library stacks and make widely available what had once been “hidden” away in our special collections and archives. The future of the University is inseparable from the future of the library; or as James Duderstadt, president emeritus of the University of Michigan, has said, “The library of the future may in fact predict the future of the University.”

Yet how do we ensure that we offer the best learning experience possible, expand student access to excellence and use digital modalities in a meaningful way? Our future will be determined in large part by how our universities collectively respond to the networked world. Education and research will demand a complex, integrated and increasingly global information infrastructure.

Universities like ours will be measured by how well they disseminate knowledge. We will need to find new ways to share intellectual effort in order to advance discovery and educate students for a future we can’t even begin to imagine.

During this transformation, the mission of the UW has remained constant: the preservation, advancement and dissemination of knowledge. As a global university, the UW needs an open digital environment in which to do its work. Because long-term stewardship of digital content is critical to the future, the role of preservation is more important than ever, so we can continue sharing the world’s knowledge as we transition from paper to primarily digital.

Photo: Lizabeth (Betsy) Wilson, Vice Provost and Dean of University Libraries, by Cass Redstone.

Jan. 2014 | Return to issue home


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Upcoming EVENTS

Feb. 19: Drs. Randall O'Reilly and Chantel Prat will discuss The Neuroscience of Good Decision Making as part of the 2014 Allen L. Edwards Psychology Lecture Series.

Feb. 27: Career (Re)Launch, a workshop for alumni who are looking to land their first job or transition to a new role after being in the workforce for several years.

March 11: Former president of Starbucks, Howard Behar, joins his daughter, the co-founder of GROW Parenting, in Life Skills for Leaders: An Empowering Talk for Teens + Parents.

More upcoming events


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