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Letter from the President

November 15, 2011

Dear Colleagues:

I am pleased to announce the formation of a Libraries Master Plan Steering Committee to begin work on a long-range master plan for the future of the Mortensen and Allen libraries of the University of Hartford. The committee will be chaired by Fred Sweitzer, assistant provost and dean of faculty development, and will consist of the following members:

Randi Ashton-Pritting, director of University Libraries

Ben Accardo ’12, president of the student body

Mark Blackwell, professor of English and assistant dean, College of Arts and Sciences

Chris Dupuis, senior project manager, facilities department

Tracey Rudnick, head, Allen Library

Clark Saunders, professor of music education and associate dean, The Hartt School

Sebby Sorrentino, director of media technology services

Norman Young, associate vice president for facilities and planning

I have asked this committee to prepare, with the help of an outside consultant and an architectural firm, a long-range facility plan for the library. This plan should be informed by the rapidly changing nature of libraries, by the infrastructure needs of our own libraries, and by the need to give our libraries a much-needed “face-lift.”

In order to prepare such a plan, I believe the committee will also be well advised to hold a series of conversations among faculty, staff, and students about the future needs of our libraries, and to consult widely with other universities of our make-up and size to learn of best practices elsewhere.

While we live in challenging times economically, I believe there has never been a better time for us to undertake this planning. Driven by the pace of change in information technology, the role of libraries is rapidly changing. While there will always be a cherished place for books, printed materials, recordings, and sheet music (especially for scholars, artists, and lovers of the arts), I strongly believe the future of information storage and retrieval will be digital. I also believe that libraries such as ours will no longer serve as storage centers for printed or recorded material. I am convinced that we are living through a revolution in how this material is stored and disseminated that is the equal of the revolution begun by Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press in the mid-15th century.

Thanks to the excellent leadership of Randi Ashton-Pritting, our libraries have kept up with this change. If you haven’t been to the Mortensen Library recently, I invite you to visit, to see the changes like the Dorothy Goodwin Café, the computer facilities, including the very popular computer pods, and the KF Room, one of finest teaching facilities I have seen anywhere. More importantly, I invite you to watch our students take advantage of these wonderful new techniques for learning.

Randi would be the first to tell you, however, that the pace of change is accelerating, and we should be planning now to take advantage of the new technology now available. We also need to act soon to address the increasing maintenance problems of the structure that houses the libraries. My hope is that this plan will result not only in a strong plan, but also as the foundation of a fundraising campaign to help us find the resources to make these needed changes.

With that in mind, I have also given the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies permission to begin raising funds to renovate the space currently used to house the Allen Library in order to house its program space and offices. My hope is that this initiative will also provide the funds to relocate the Allen Library in new and improved space within the current footprint of Mortensen Library. While the Greenberg Center has had success in launching its fundraising efforts, it is too soon to begin any actual planning for such a move.

I am confident that the Libraries Master Plan Steering Committee will provide us with a road map for our libraries as they become ever more vibrant centers of teaching and learning, research, and scholarship. I have also asked the committee to keep us all updated on its progress.

Sincerely,

Walter Harrison
President