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Notes from Elliott Shore’s Listening Tour: Chicago

University of Chicago, Mansueto Library

ARL executive director Elliott Shore has embarked on a “listening tour” of ARL member libraries. This is the third in a series of informal reports from his visits.

The latest stop on my listening tour of ARL members was Chicago, where I visited four institutions during the week of March 11. This trip was organized by 2011–12 ARL Research Library Leadership Fellow (RLLF) Marianne Ryan of Northwestern University Library. At each institution, I met with the professional staff and director—Bernie Reilly at the Center for Research Libraries (CRL), Mary Case at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Judi Nadler at University of Chicago (UChicago), and Sarah Pritchard at Northwestern University. While I was in Chicago, I also met with the executive directors of ALA and ACRL, Keith Fiels and Mary Ellen Davis.

At the Center for Research Libraries we had an engaging conversation about CRL’s changing role in the digital world, as it provides a coordinating and a leadership role in expanding its services to the research library world. When I met with the professional staff at UIC, Abigail Goben from the Health Science Library prompted a stimulating discussion on whether librarians should publish in journals that make it difficult for authors to retain control of their work, which eerily foreshadowed what occurred a week later when the editorial board at the Journal of Library Administration resigned en masse.

At UChicago, Judi Nadler took me behind the scenes of Helmut Jahn’s Mansueto Library. The glass-domed reading room provides students and faculty an extraordinary space in which to work and the automated storage system is in its way as striking as the reading room. The professional staff and I engaged in a thoughtful conversation about the role that ARL could play in helping the community think about which large-scale national digital projects might be the right ones for all of us to support. I also met with their CIO and had a lively discussion with the technology staff drawn from various parts of the university.

At Northwestern I had a conversation with library staff that included strong support for the ARL Leadership Career Development Program. Staff expressed the hope that diversity will play a stronger role in the RLLF as well. Also at Northwestern, Sarah Pritchard organized a meeting with the provost and the vice president for research, where we discussed the need for strategic partnerships on campuses between VPs for research and library deans and directors.

I am in Texas now with visits at UT Austin, Texas A&M, the University of Houston, and Rice University, on my way to the spring CNI Membership Meeting. Next I will be in Pennsylvania and New York State and New York City, then Kansas, and then I head to Tennessee at the time of the spring ASERL Membership Meeting. After the ARL Membership Meeting in North Carolina, I’ll be in Ontario and then Ohio. If there’s an opportunity to meet with a regional group of ARL member representatives when you are already together, please let me know.

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