It’s hard to believe that this is my last article for the Agenda. When I look back at all that we have accomplished since I arrived at Rutgers in 2015—from the implementation of our new library system and QuickSearch, to the repeated successes of our Open and Affordable Textbooks program, to our pivot to an online-centric model of service delivery in the face of COVID-19, to our redesigned website, to the countless other achievements that I don’t have space to mention here—I cannot help but feel an overwhelming sense of pride. Looking back at the work that we have been able to accomplish to advance teaching and learning at Rutgers in these six years leaves me feeling incredibly grateful and fortunate to have had the pleasure of leading such a hardworking, intelligent, and creative group of colleagues.
But all things must come to an end, and before I leave you in the capable hands of Consuella, I thought I would take one last opportunity to orient us toward the future and encourage you all to continue down the path we’ve begun charting during my tenure as university librarian.
As a new article in The Chronicle of Higher Education illustrates, libraries are well-situated to lead their universities into the new era of higher education—not only because of the expertise we developed as we nimbly pivoted our services online with the outbreak of the pandemic, but also because of the community-building, “front porch” role our physical spaces will serve as students and faculty begin to repopulate our campuses. Over time, we’ve gained the experience and developed the tools to be leaders in this moment, but it’s up to us to make sure we are ready to answer the call.
Put simply, now is the time for libraries to shine. If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that libraries have the ability to be impressively flexible and inventive in the face of unforeseen challenges, with a sharp focus on meeting our users’ needs and maximizing the impact of our limited resources. With disruptive changes ongoing in the scholarly communication and higher education landscapes—from new transformative agreements to the emergence of the hybrid classroom—we will need to continue demonstrating such ingenuity for the foreseeable future.
While I am stepping down from my position, I am not leaving Rutgers. I know the Libraries will do well under Consuella’s leadership, and I am certain that the next university librarian, whoever they may be, will be able to build on the significant momentum we’ve gained over the last six years. I look forward to the next chapter of the Libraries’ history, and I feel confident that we will realize our place, in the words of President Holloway, as the “heart of the university.”
One last time, on behalf of all the Rutgers students and faculty that we serve: thank you for everything that you do.