As most of you know from the email I sent a few weeks ago, pending board approval, we will be welcoming John P. Wilkin as university librarian and dean of libraries in August. I thank Paula Kaufman for her wonderful leadership of this university icon. Of all the grand accomplishments and great hallmarks across our history, I think none stand out like the university library.
With more than 13 million volumes, Illinois boasts the largest public university library in North America. It’s a fact we often quote in speeches, new student materials and faculty outreach efforts – and for good reason. The sheer size, magnitude and reach of our library help to make it one of the greatest in the world.
The library has always served as an invaluable research tool for our faculty. In fact, I have heard James Anderson, a professor in educational policy, organization and leadership here, tell the story of leaving Illinois for his first faculty appointment, a job at Indiana University. Upon stepping into IU’s library, he was immediately disappointed – it was clear the Illinois library is one of a kind. He even tells of Purdue sending busloads of students and faculty to our library for research. He names the library as one of the key components in his decision to return here to Illinois.
Our collections truly help to preserve history. A multitude of materials detail every part of our great university’s story including a clock originally owned and used by Gregor Mendel and a cast of Abraham Lincoln’s hands (one is slightly bigger than the other, swollen from so much hand shaking), just to name a few. We are also fortunate to count many special collections including materials by and about John Milton, Williams Shakespeare, Marcel Proust, Carl Sandburg, H.G. Wells, and John Phillip Sousa. By taking care to preserve, through our high-density storage facility, preservation and conservation and digitization efforts, we’re making a commitment to saving these materials for generations to come.
And yet while preserving the past, we’re utilizing our library to ensure our place as a pre-eminent public research university of the future. We have always been pioneers in information technology, and the library system mirrors that dedication. Dean Kaufman has described the library’s future as dependent on its ability to become an essential part of the fabric of the university, rather than just a system of physical places. Physical spaces are still very important, but the library’s presence now extends far beyond them.
We currently have more than 1 million visitors to the library’s online catalog every week. The library is also engaged in developing and delivering an array of services and tools for our students and faculty who do their learning, teaching and research off-campus. For example, online courses (e.g., MOOCs) challenge us to think much more deeply not just about traditional service delivery and library instruction, but about how we communicate with our students and faculty so as to strengthen our integration with learning and teaching for the university community and beyond.
Illinois faculty and students also continue to turn out increasing amounts of data that must be managed. We are working toward developing and implementing programs to manage these data so that they can be discovered and used by their creators and others. The library is leading our effort to organize data, how to find and access it, where to store it, and how to ensure it will always be available.
And above all, as Dean Kaufman has so often expressed, the library’s greatest asset are the faculty and staff who work tirelessly to support teaching, learning and research here at Illinois.
The library has been one of our proudest institutions since our founding. And, as we look forward to the great challenges of the next 20-50 years, it will be the foundation of the discoveries and innovations that shape our society – locally, nationally and globally.
Around The Campus
Congratulations to Andreas C. Cangellaris, the head of the department of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who has been chosen to be the next dean of the College of Engineering.
To read more about the new dean, see the full story here.
Congratulations to Allan M. Stratman, a captain in the U.S. Navy and the executive officer of the Navy Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, has been chosen to be the executive director of Facilities at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Congratulations to thirteen University of Illinois undergraduate students who have been awarded scholarships from the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship Program. The scholarships are for students studying abroad in summer 2013, fall 2013 or the 2013-14 academic year.
Congratulations to doctoral students Aditya Agrawal and Brett Jones who have won Intel Ph.D. Fellowships for the 2013-14 academic year. Fifteen fellowships were awarded nationwide. The fellowship, for outstanding graduate students conducting research in computer science, engineering, social science and other fields relating to high-tech computing technologies, includes a $24,000 stipend, a travel award and tuition. Recipients also work with an Intel technical mentor who is an established leader in the field.