It is my privilege and good fortune to begin my leadership of the Friends of the Libraries board at the very moment they have received a national award honoring extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) gives this award to an outstanding institution that makes significant and exceptional contributions to their community. This is welcome recognition for what many of us know — that the University of Minnesota Libraries is exceptional, even among great libraries. This award is an acknowledgement of the creative, forward-looking work that goes on at the Libraries every day and why I am so proud to lead the Friends at this time.
Libraries often stir deep emotions and memories and if you are reading this you are likely a person who loves libraries. And because libraries are about the past and the future, you understand the need to preserve what we have and build on it. If you are a Friend of the Libraries — you are, aren’t you? — then you also appreciate the several roles that the University Libraries plays in our community. The Libraries are not always visible but they are key to scholarship and learning — every day minds are stretched using the library resources available on campus and online.
As Friends, we strive to create a community that sustains and creates visibility for the University Libraries. The Friends host public events — like the Elizabeth Kolbert lecture which filled Northrop in April and presentations from historian Joseph Ellis and local poet Bao Phi this past year. Each of the six public lectures this year introduced new people to the Libraries and broadened horizons for all of us.
Enhancing the visibility of the Libraries in this way matters because, in this age of online everything, people sometimes forget the crucial work of the Libraries in ensuring that the information we need to envision and to create the future gets acquired, organized, stored, and retained for generations — without regard to popularity, number of hits, political changes, or reposting.
I appreciate the opportunity to lead the Friends in finding a larger community of appreciation for their work. Our libraries need great friends and I hope that you will continue to be a Friend and support the Libraries, especially in this exciting year of the IMLS award.
President, Friends of the Libraries