The institutional form of the library is changing dramatically. Library users, both in academic institutions and in the community beyond the campus, are showing us what the information environment of the future will look like. On campus, faculty and students go to the library less than they used to, not only because the library has come to them but also because they have other sources of information. When users can get unmediated access to information and when they can find and use information anytime, anywhere, the old idea of the library first and foremost as a warehouse of information will disappear.
Library users today want access to information, regardless of where it is kept. For this reason, the future library will not simply be a modernized version of the current one. It is likely that few libraries will be able to survive in the traditional mode, that is, as independent entities that collect, organize, and provide access to information that they have acquired in one way or another.
Historically, librarians have not only collected and preserved the sources of information but also organized that information according to patrons’ needs. In both academic and public libraries, the intellectual qualities of the librarian have guaranteed the quality of the collection and the guidance provided to it. As the library increasingly becomes one among many sources of information, it becomes more important than ever to develop the human capital of the library. The library of the future will be principally a human institution-a corps of information professionals rather than a repository or a treasure house of information.
This new vision poses many questions. What types of people should we recruit for the task of helping faculty, students, and ordinary citizens make sense of an increasingly complex information environment? How should these recruits be educated? How should the profession be organized, and how will it relate to the institutions that hire, promote, and pay its members?
This year, the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) has begun to explore these questions with the aim of providing guidance for the next phase of the revolution in information resources. Projects and programs relating to these questions will represent major efforts for CLIR in the coming years.
The membership of CLIR’s Board reflects the organization’s evolving activities and concerns. The range of perspectives and experience of Board members will be a significant asset as we refine our agendas for re-examining library education and other activities. Each year, a few members leave the Board and new members join. This past year, Elaine Sloan retired both from the directorship of the Columbia University Libraries and from the CLIR Board, on which she had served for six years. We are grateful to Elaine for her many contributions to our work. Billy Frye, chancellor of Emory University, retired from the Board after having served several terms on the boards of CLIR and the Commission on Preservation and Access. Billy’s insights into the challenges and opportunities facing the library profession have been indispensable. We are pleased to carry on his legacy with the Frye Leadership Institute.
To build and broaden the Board’s membership, we have appointed Norman Fainstein, Michael Ann Holly, Herman Pabbruwe, and James Williams. Norman Fainstein is president of Connecticut College. Michael Ann Holly is an art historian and head of research and academic programs at the Clark Art Institute. Herman Pabbruwe has many years of experience in commercial scholarly publishing. James Williams is university librarian of the University of Colorado and has a background in medical libraries. We are delighted to have these new members on the Board. Edward Ayers, historian of the Civil War and dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia, will join the Board in the fall.
Collaboration with other institutions in the field has been especially important to CLIR’s work this year; several examples are given in the section of this report devoted to programs. We look forward to continued cooperation with our partners.
On behalf of the Board, I want to thank CLIR’s president and staff. Much of the influence that CLIR has exerted in national and international discussions and activities related to the acquisition, preservation, and management of information is attributable to their talent and dedication.