Library enthusiasts dine, discuss the future of research

Natalie Pillsbury

Julia Thornton, sophomore music education major, plays at the Friends of Kent State University Libraries & Media

Services annual dinner.

Credit: Andrew popik

An ice sculpture of stacked books topped with War and Peace and the soft music of a live pianist served as the backdrop for the Friends of Kent State University Libraries & Media Services dinner last night.

“A lot of emeriti come back for the dinner,” said Linda Papoi, senior library assistant. “It is a chance to promote current library programs.”

The dinner, which has been held for 30 years, featured a speech by Duane Webster, executive director of the Association of Research Libraries.

The Kent State library has been a member of the Association of Research Libraries since 1974.

Webster focused on issues relevant to research libraries. He named three questions important to framing the future of research libraries.

The first is user behavior, specifically that of young people.

“They have a different technological orientation,” Webster said. “We have to learn how they approach information.”

Webster then raised the issue of the local implication of an effort by Google to launch a mass database of digital resources in collaboration with Stanford and the University of Michigan.

He said that this could create competition for research libraries.

Although students and other young people may go to Google first for research purposes, they still look to the library for authoritative assistance and help, Webster said.

He then addressed new roles research libraries will have in an increasingly electronic environment.

Research libraries have the daunting task of digitizing their print collections, specifically special collections and other rare materials, Webster said.

He said that a main challenge with this transition is getting copyright permission from publishers.

“Research libraries have always played an important role in student learning,” Webster said in closing. “The importance of libraries becomes more apparent in that they are able to successfully move into this electronic environment.”

Following Webster’s speech, President Carol Cartwright spoke briefly, noting the growth of the library in the past year.

Mark Weber, dean of Libraries and Media Services, concluded the dinner by recognizing Jeanne Somers, associate dean of Libraries and Media Services, who will retire in one month.

After explaining that he promised not to recognize Somers and that he would “never be forgiven,” Weber prompted a standing ovation dedicated to her work in the library.

Contact libraries and information reporter Natalie Pillsbury at [email protected]