Dean’s Update: Strengthening communities around access to information

Dean’s Update: Strengthening communities around access to information
Jenny James Lee
May 4, 2016

[The Dean's Update is a reoccurring column introducing the Libraries' monthly newsletter In Circulation.]

Access to information is a public good. It enables us to make informed decisions and improve lives. On a global level, communities that have timely and relevant information are better positioned to take advantage of the economic, social, and educational opportunities that access can provide. At Drexel, access to authoritative information and strengthening the community’s ability to use it, position the University to improve economic growth, strengthen civic engagement and add to the world’s knowledge.

Worldwide, libraries are trusted institutions that reinforce and strengthen communities. By first preserving and organizing information, libraries have created places for people to access knowledge. But, libraries go beyond ensuring access to information. They guide people to find information to make better-informed decisions to improve their lives, which subsequently makes for a better society.

Professional colleagues working in the world’s 320,000+ public libraries are on the frontline to empower communities to eradicate poverty, illiteracy, discrimination and economic stagnation. Librarians serving academic communities face an embarrassment of riches by comparison. Their work provides competitive advantages for their communities of students and faculty to master universal literacy, in order to navigate the rich landscape of information, data and media, while also ensuring that the output of the University’s research is preserved and openly accessible to future generations.

This issue of our newsletter highlights ways that the Libraries strengthens communities through stimulating a discussion of challenges to the core premise that access to information is a public good, and celebrating those who advance access to ideas through authoring books and investing in the power of the library as a place for learning.

We are looking forward to better understanding the barriers and advocacy of ensuring public access to government information, through our upcoming event Decade of Discovery: a film screening and panel discussion. Through membership in the Digital Library Federation, we have joined the national community of library and information experts who are working to develop effective ways to preserve, organize and ensure access to research data, and will introduce best practices to ensure access to the research data the community of Drexel researchers produce.

Next month we are delighted to honor the legacy of past president William Walsh Hagerty on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth. You are invited to come to the Library on June 10, 2016 to celebrate his many accomplishments including the investment in building the intersection of information, technologies and community by implementing construction of his namesake, today’s central library.

I hope to see you at one of our upcoming events!

Danuta A. Nitecki, PhD
Dean of Libraries