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The Truth About the Future of the Library


A Roundtable Discussion Sponsored by the Friends of the Library


Friday, April 27, 2007
3:00-5:00 p.m.
Alfred Friendly '33 Periodicals Reading Room
Robert Frost Library
Moderated by Sherre L. Harrington, Librarian of the College


Will there still be BOOKS? If there are, will students use them? Do we KNOW ENOUGH about how scholars conduct their research and what they need? Do STUDENTS come here with the skills they need to go beyond GOOGLE and WIKIPEDIA? What kind of environment is necessary to support AMHERST'S VISION for intellectual productivity and INNOVATION? Does the BUILDING still matter?

We want your TRUTH. Join us for a lively discussion of the impact of new modes of communication on scholarship and publishing, the role of the library in fostering inquiry and academic community, and identifying and developing the resources and knowledge essential to our future as a vital partner in teaching and research at Amherst College.



John Unsworth

John M. Unsworth '81 was named Dean of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2003, with appointments as Professor in GSLIS, in the department of English, and on the Library faculty. During the previous ten years, from 1993-2003, he served as the first Director of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, and a faculty member in the English Department, at the University of Virginia. For his work at IATH, he received the 2005 Richard W. Lyman Award from the National Humanities Center. He co-chaired the national commission that produced the 2006 report on Cyberinfrastructure for Humanities and Social Science, on behalf of the American Council of Learned Societies, and he has supervised research projects across the disciplines in the humanities. He has also published widely on the topic of electronic scholarship, as well as co-directing one of nine national partnerships in the Library of Congress's National Digital Information Infrastructure Preservation Program, and securing grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the Getty Grant Program, IBM, Sun, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and others. He attended Princeton University and Amherst College as an undergraduate, graduating from Amherst in 1981. He received a Master's degree in English from Boston University in 1982 and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia in 1988. In 1990, at NCSU, he co-founded the first peer-reviewed electronic journal in the humanities, Postmodern Culture (now published by Johns Hopkins University Press, as part of Project Muse). Further information is at:


Niko Pfund

Niko Pfund '87 began his publishing career as an editorial assistant at Oxford University Press in 1987. He moved to New York University Press in 1990, as Editor in history, law, and politics. After a decade at NYUP, the last four years as Director and Editor in Chief, he returned to OUP in 2000 as Vice President and Publisher of its U.S. Academic division. He graduated from Amherst College in 1987. He is the author, with Barbara Fister, of We're Not Dead Yet!, a 2004 Library Journal article about the interdependence of university presses and academic libraries. In February 2007 he was interviewed by Library Journal about the Oxford University Press announcement that it would put almost all of its scholarly monographs on the web through its Oxford Scholarship Online (OSO) program.



Marshall Nannes is a music and history major in the Amherst College class of 2009.

Paul T. Ruxin is Vice Chairman, Friends of the Amherst College Library. He graduated from Amherst College in 1965.

Martha A. Sandweiss is Professor of American Studies and History at Amherst College and Chair of the Faculty Library Committee.

Rebecca H. Sinos is Professor of Classics at Amherst College.


Additional Resources


The Amherst College Library
Report of the Library Planning Group, 2005 (January 2006)
The Library Planning Group was convened in June 2005 to evaluate and forecast the strategic ways in which library services, collections and facilities will need to be transformed to meet the academic and information needs of the College during the next half-century. Reporting to the President of the College and the Dean of the Faculty, the Group began its work during the fall semester by engaging students, faculty and library staff in a conversation about the long-range future of the Amherst College Library.
Report of the Amherst College Library to the Committee on Academic Priorities (2005?)


Beyond Amherst College
Real Library Innovation Or Just New Toasters (April 2007.)
"Innovate. Innovate. Innovate. It seems that innovation is all the rage these days."
from: StevenB, April 11, 2007 on ACRLog, "Blogging by and for academic and research librarians."
Changing Roles of Academic and Research Libraries (November 2006).
"This essay derives from a Roundtable on Technology and Change in Academic Libraries, convened by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) on November 2-3, 2006 in Chicago."
ACRL Top Ten Assumptions for the Future of Academic Libraries (March 2007)
The The Association of College and Research Libraries Research Committee "developed the top ten assumptions after surveying member leaders and conducting a literature review. A panel representing community and liberal arts colleges, research university libraries, as well as an observer of the higher education environment reacted and commented upon the assumptions at the ACRL National Conference" held March 29 to April 1, 2007 in Baltimore.
Program and Research Agenda, 2007-2010
From the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).


Frost Library