For over a century, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been known for the depth of its Library collections, and the strength of its Library faculty and staff. The University Library lies at the heart of much of the work we do, and it is essential to our continued excellence in teaching, research, and service. Our campus has faced many challenges in recent years in its efforts to maintain this tradition of excellence in an environment characterized, on one hand, by significant increases in Library costs, and, on the other, by decreasing State support for the academic enterprise. At the same time, our Library faculty and staff have faced the challenge of identifying how to balance traditional commitments to library services while rapid changes to information technology redefine many of the ways in which they conduct their work. Last year, I asked our Library faculty and staff to articulate a plan for maintaining their tradition of excellence within this challenging environment, and to present a vision for the future of Library services on our campus that would build on the best of the old, while recognizing the needs of the new. I am happy to see this vision begin to unfold in the Final Report of the University Library's Budget Group Plus.
This Report demonstrates the commitment of our faculty and staff to the collections and people that have made our Library a pre-eminent scholarly resource for the campus, the State, and the world. It recognizes the deep connection between the work of the student and scholar and the physical, digital, and human resources found in the Library. By focusing on the role of expert librarians, rich collections, and physical and virtual spaces designed to meet the needs of faculty and students, and by committing to open and ongoing collaboration with colleagues across the campus and throughout the scholarly community, this Report articulates an approach to meeting the challenge of building a great library for the future while meeting the needs of the present and honoring the contributions of the past.
This Report also demonstrates the serious consideration that members of our campus community have given to the very real economic challenges facing our Library. Changes to technology, to the way we use our Library, and to the very nature of scholarly inquiry, all argue against an ongoing commitment to a single model of Library service. At the same time, the breadth of the scholarly enterprise ensures that there is no one model of Library service that will fit the needs of all Library users. This Report articulates a commitment to continued engagement with faculty and students in designing multiple approaches to Library services in an attempt to meet multiple missions, multiple needs, and multiple forms of teaching, learning, and research. It is an approach that ensures ongoing flexibility in our Library organization, and demonstrates the Library’s commitment to thinking creatively about how best to meet the needs of our campus and community.
I encourage you all to read this Report, and to consider how you can best contribute to the future it describes. I have no doubt that the Library will continue to face challenges, but I look forward to supporting the vision, the commitments to excellence, and the approach to strategic change found in this Report. I hope you will all do the same.