Future of the Libraries Committee named

The Jean and Alexander Heard Library, as seen from 21st Avenue South. (Photo by Jon Erickson)
The Jean and Alexander Heard Library, as seen from 21st Avenue South. (Jon Erickson/Vanderbilt)

Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan R. Wente has charged a new committee comprising faculty from across the university and library leadership and staff with developing a vision for the future direction of the Vanderbilt University library system.

“Our libraries have been transformed over the past five years, but now is no time to rest,” Wente said. “I am confident in the ability of the members of this committee to articulate the direction in which the Vanderbilt library system needs to move in order to best position it as a support for our research and teaching needs during this time of tremendous change in libraries nationwide.”

Connie Vinita Dowell, Vanderbilt’s first dean of libraries, retired July 31, 2014. She had served as dean since March 2009, during which time she led significant modernization and transformation of the library system. Jody Combs, associate dean of libraries, began his term as interim dean of libraries Aug. 1.

The Future of the Libraries Committee will be guided by the goals of the Academic Strategic Plan and will lay the groundwork for the search for the next leader of the libraries. Two subcommittees, one comprising faculty and the other comprising library leadership and staff, will each gather broad input, particularly from students.

James Hudnut-Beumler, Anne Potter Wilson Professor of American Religious History, will chair the faculty subcommittee; William Hook, associate dean of the Jean and Alexander Heard Library and director of the Divinity Library, will chair the library staff subcommittee. Sandy Stahl, assistant vice chancellor for student life, will serve as an ex-officio member of both subcommittees.

Both groups will prepare a joint report that will be completed and delivered in March 2015 to a small team from the Office of the Provost consisting of Camilla Benbow, Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development; Chris Guthrie, dean of the Law School; and Cynthia Cyrus, vice provost for learning and residential affairs.

“There is a great deal of change in the library field with the advent of digital resources and the shift toward video, media-heavy resources and big-data complexes. An interesting aspect of the process is that while the subcommittees will write a joint report, the process allows for conflicting recommendations to emerge,” Cyrus said. “The work of the committee is designed to determine not what the future holds, but rather to determine what Vanderbilt’s own needs are as we move forward.”

The committee will address questions that include: How can the library create conditions for faculty and students to do their work at the highest levels? How does the library need to adapt to address new technological capabilities? What are the crucial services that cannot be compromised in this process? How does the library leverage its national visibility and collaborative relationships to further support Vanderbilt’s strategic plan?

The faculty committee members are:

The library leadership and staff committee members are:

  • Cliff Anderson, director, scholarly communications, Law Library
  • Hilary Craiglow, director, Walker Management Library
  • Marcia Epelbaum, assistant director, Annette and Irwin Eskind Biomedical Library
  • Lindsey Fox, GIS scholarly communications, Jean and Alexander Heard Library
  • Nancy Godleski, assistant dean of collections, Central Library
  • William Hook, associate dean, Jean and Alexander Heard Library; director, Divinity Library; interim director, Central Library
  • Pamela Morgan, subject liaison, Central Library
  • Keegan Osinski, circulation assistant, Divinity Library
  • Larry Reeves, associate dean and director, Alyne Queener Massey Law Library
  • Jacob Schaub, music cataloger, Anne Potter Wilson Music Library
  • Holling Smith-Borne, director, Anne Potter Wilson Music Library
  • Rick Stringer-Hye, subject liaison, Science and Engineering Library
  • Jim Toplon, manager of interlibrary loan, Central Library

For more information on the committee, visit Vice Provost for Learning and Residential Affairs Cynthia Cyrus’s website.