The Future of the Academic Library: A Symposium

May. 17, 2011
Location: McMaster University Burlington Burlington, Ontario

Universities today are facing unprecedented pressures fueled in part by technological advances, transformations in scholarly communications, evolving student expectations, increased calls for accountability, and greater competition. Simultaneously, we are experiencing uncertainty in financial support owing to declines in public and private funding partnered with ever-increasing costs. The global financial crisis of 2008 has further compounded our challenges and has added a sense of urgency to the calls for transformation of our institutions. Never before have the challenges we face been as great or the opportunities as exciting. As E. Gordon Gee, president of Ohio State University, has stated, our choice is simple: "it's reinvention or extinction."

As an integral component in teaching, learning, and research on our campuses, libraries are at the heart of these changes. Our challenges are similar to those faced by our parent institutions and "reinvention or extinction" could be our call to arms as well. In an increasingly complex, information-rich world, how do we assure that we remain relevant? Perhaps more important, how do we establish ourselves and our libraries as change agents on our campuses? This time of uncertainty may be a window of opportunity that may close as quickly as it has opened. How do we prepare ourselves to take advantage of what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?

The May 17 symposium at McMaster will bring together some of the leading thinkers in our profession—speakers, panelists, and participants—to generate solutions to the key challenges we face.