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TAKING NOTE

photo of Larry Alford

I am honoured and pleased to welcome you to the first Noteworthy, the Libraries’ newsletter to our donors and friends. As you read on, you will know that we have been extremely active since we published the final edition of the University of Toronto Libraries Newsletter last fall. On reflection, I am struck by how much is being accomplished by our excellent staff to make a real difference for U of T’s students, faculty, the wider community of research libraries and the many people who rely on what we do—while challenging us to do more.

The notion of being purposeful about making a difference figures throughout this edition of Noteworthy. As my first academic year at the University of Toronto concludes and my knowledge of this institution deepens, I recognize the foresight of many in U of T’s past—donors, university leaders, faculty and library professionals—who imagined our libraries becoming one of the world’s leading library systems.

Like previous junctures in the University of Toronto Libraries’ history, the present reality calls for innovation and resolve. We are balancing demand for physical space, the influence of electronic information and the need to steward resources well in the face of profound change. Within the University’s campaign, Boundless, we have identified key priorities which call for the unprecedented support of our friends. We will secure funds to create student study space within Robarts Library and the Gerstein Science Information Centre in the Sigmund Samuel Library; to form dedicated endowments for our foremost special collections; and to develop our collection—including curating and preserving “born digital” information.

The following gives context to our identified priorities. Our data is at odds with conventional wisdom that suggests library users access us remotely and have little use for physical space. Just Robarts Library alone, one of our 44 libraries, is used by as many as 14,000 people on a busy day interacting with librarians, using collections, working independently and collaborating.

On other fronts, scholars and members of the public expect increasing, comprehensive online access to knowledge resources. The costs of digital materials have come to dominate our collection investment budget, placing pressure on print acquisitions, which for many geographic regions are the most important sources of knowledge. At the same time, continuing to acquire, preserve and make available the documentary history of Canada remains a high priority. All these considerations require us to secure long-term resources for the benefit of future students and scholars.

These pages feature stories about people who are intent on strengthening our collections, our affiliations and our capacity to serve those who depend on us to preserve for the future the record of the past. I hope you enjoy reading about the innovation of staff and the support of friends that places us among the world's great libraries and makes us a Canadian treasure. As my predecessor, Carole Moore, said, “It was an audacious vision.” I would be delighted to hear from you in response to Noteworthy. Thank you for your interest in the University of Toronto Libraries.

Larry P. Alford