Thursday, August 15, 2013

Welcome Back

As the University Libraries welcome students and faculty back to the campus and the summer recess comes to a close, it is perhaps appropriate to reflect on the Libraries’ historic and current place in serving our community. As the repository of the University’s archives, we offer a unique resource in assessing our university’s tradition and relationship to its many constituencies, and are a major resource for exploring the evolution of higher education for women from our founding in the late nineteenth century. Indeed, as I was just discussing with a colleague walking back from the Chancellor’s State of the Campus address, the old Forney Building that served as the first library building on campus was built through the generosity of Andrew Carnegie at the urging of Normal School founder and first president Charles Duncan McIver. Carnegie is best known for building public libraries, but he was willing to support libraries for colleges offering practical education, and McIver convinced him of the importance of having a good library on a campus dedicated to serving its community, as we were and still are. Greensboro actually ended up with four Carnegie libraries, including buildings at Bennett and Guilford Colleges. With such initiatives as our "Textiles, Teachers and Troops" digital project, which recently received a second round of major funding allowing us further collaborate with other local repositories relating to the history of Greensboro, the University Libraries continue to grow as a major resource for interpreting the history of our community and its place in the larger society.

As the new academic year opens, we at the University Libraries recommit ourselves and our library to the university’s mission and goals, and to supporting new and returning students and faculty as well as alumni, friends, and community members.
As a vehicle for lifelong education, becoming proficient in the use of libraries and the resources and services they provide is a critical skill for the long-term success we all hope to enjoy, and with which we develop an engaged and informed citizenry. 

The University Libraries are proud to be leaders in the application of technology in libraries, and in developing models of resource acquisition and cost sharing such as the Carolina Consortium that enables not only our campus, but others throughout the state and beyond, to make the most of the financial resources available to us. 
We are pleased to be among the first campus units to enter into the UNCG-Well∙Spring collaboration, which offers promise to become a model for the nation in showing the way for meaningful interaction between universities and retirement communities. 

In our services to distance learners and in our partnerships with groups such as the BOOKMARKS organization, the Greensboro Public Library, the Greensboro Historical Museum, the Guilford County Schools, and other community organizations, we seek to extend our service and benefits beyond the physical boundaries of our campus and those who study and conduct research here.  
Recognizing that paper and books remain important containers for information, we value and steward our unique and important physical collections and work to make them available to the wider community through digitization and other means.  At the same time, we continue to expand, insofar as we can, our electronic reach to collections and services beyond those within our walls.

As library professionals, we who work here continue to serve our profession and our society, and to serve in positions of leadership within the state and beyond as we move confidently into a future where library service continues to be refined and renewed toward the goal of meeting the needs of a complex and ever-changing world.