UI University Librarian candidate emphasizes transition of libraries in digital ages


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As technology continues to evolve, whether students and faculty will still need librarians’ services is a concern in that field — however, the third candidate to become the UI University Librarian believes that libraries will not be phased out.

“I think the thing that is really fascinating about the library users is that access to digital information, access to the Internet and having access to mobile technology, that whole combination of factors leads to both students and faculty really trying to have that self-sufficiency extend into how we use and find information,” said Beth Namachchivaya, a UI University Librarian candidate.

“Making mobile apps available for figuring out and finding things in the library is a critical part in getting into the students and into the student’s world view.”

As the search for a person to fill the UI University Librarian position continues, Namachchivaya spoke at a public forum on April 11.

Namachchivaya is an associate university librarian for information technology planning and policy, associate dean of libraries, and professor of library administration at the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign.

Namachchivaya said officials should address the transition libraries will inevitably undergo as new technologies are released.

“The information that we work with is increasingly digital,” she said. “But the core mission of libraries is to collect and provide access to and to preserve research outputs, institutional memory, and the information and the resources that are important to the research-intensive university, and that mission remains the same.”

Faculty and staff involved in the UI Libraries attended the forum to hear about Namachchivaya’s plans and how she will help specific departments.

“I’m looking for someone who will inspire, challenge, and support our department,” said Nancy Kraft, the head of the UI Libraries Preservation and Conservation Department.  “We all come in listening to who will support our issues and needs.”

Namachchivaya believes that consulting with other departments is crucial, and she has familiarity with that.

“I think the reach in collaborations, whether they are local or state or national … and really being able to talk eye to eye to the person and the groups is really critical, and not giving up and coming back from a different angle,” she said.

Namachchivaya’s interest in the UI stems from how closely she has already worked with the institution.

“This is really an attractive opportunity because I know enough about the institution that this is an institution that likes to try new things and does it rationally and purposefully,” she said.

Officials that attended the forum believe that Namachchivaya’s previous experience is an important element of her candidacy.

“She certainly seems like she has a lot of work with purposeful planning,” said Mike Wright, an associate university librarian for collections and scholarly commons. “I think her IT skills will also help with what we are planning for the future with the libraries and its departments.”

The final candidate, whose name has yet to be announced, will speak at 4 p.m. Wednesday in the Bijou.

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