Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos challenged us to plan “a destination library” in one of his first public appearances after being named to lead Vanderbilt. I cannot imagine a more compelling or rewarding task! My library colleagues and I are eager to serve the fast-changing needs and demands of Vanderbilt’s students and faculty and to develop a plan that will also serve tomorrow’s Vanderbilt community. Within the library, we have already begun planning. Now we look forward to reaching out to the campus community and to all the library’s supporters.
This is my first letter to all of you and is an invitation to join us in planning the future of Vanderbilt’s libraries. The next step in a comprehensive study of the Heard Library System is a campuswide conversation aimed at identifying the characteristics of the academic library that Vanderbilt will need to carry it forward through the first half of the 21st century.
These conversations will guide the creation of services and facilities to complement and enhance the excellence of Vanderbilt’s achievements. We will envision libraries that are our students’ intellectual home on campus, enriching their Vanderbilt experience. With the input of Vanderbilt’s faculty in our many departments and schools, our libraries will enhance and expand their collaborative and interdisciplinary activities to build a stronger sense of community.
Vanderbilt’s leaders understand that libraries are uniquely positioned to help guide the use of digital collections in scholarship. Today, an enormous amount of digital information is available, as is the capability to create original content. Organizing, preserving and, most importantly, understanding all this information may be our greatest challenge. I look forward to working with other institutional leaders to consider how to make the best use of information technology across the full range of the university’s activities and interests.
I am so honored to be Vanderbilt’s first dean of libraries. The change in the position’s title underscores our university’s commitment to our libraries. While I have the privilege to lead this extraordinary enterprise at such an important time, my success depends on your participation in our planning process. If we are able to capture the tremendous ideas and energy that make Vanderbilt the remarkable, extraordinary place it is, we cannot fail. Regardless of whether you are on campus or hundreds of miles away, we need your participation in this vital part of Vanderbilt’s future. I hope you contact me at connie.v.dowell @vanderbilt.edu .
Together, we will build a destination library.
photo credit: John Russell