As we begin a new year and new semester, let me offer best wishes for the coming year.
We are looking forward with great hope to the coming calendar year, but I want to first reflect on the last year.
It was largely a true return to normal operations in 2022, and as such we began to build strategic plans that reflected some stability in our outlook. COVID as a pandemic began to fade into the background as the spring progressed, though surges early and late in the year reminded us to remain vigilant. The university launched its “What Starts Here” capital campaign in March with a modest $6 billion goal, while our spring 40 Hours for the Forty Acres work resulted in over $54,000 in donations. We built our own “Plausible Futures” framework as UT released its “Change Starts Here” strategic plan, and redoubled DEI effort with the launch of the “You Belong Here” Plan for an Equitable and Inclusive Campus just as we were approving recommendations for our own IDEA Action Plan. Provost Sharon Wood released the final report of the Working Group on Sustainable Open Scholarship. This past fall, the Texas Library Coalition for United Action was finally able to close out negotiations resulting in a historic agreement with Elsevier that means lower costs and greater access to Libraries’ resources. And we continued to refine the “Plausible Futures” 3-year planning work. As campus wrapped for the year, we began preparatory work for a significant renovation on the entry level of the Perry-Castañeda Library (PCL).
All in all, we had a remarkable year after a prolonged period of unexpected challenges.
Looking forward, we anticipate the opening of the new Digital Scholars Lab space in PCL. The adjacent Scholars Commons will further enhance our work on the library-as-platform concept, collocating robust digital collaborative tools and resources with our traditional collections, services and expertise. When this large area opens later in the fall, we hope for it to reenergize the Libraries as a community center on campus in ways that will facilitate interaction and innovation among faculty, scholars, researchers and students. Our goal is to leverage the hub for both in-person connections and the virtual environments that we have developed in recent years.
We will implement several projects to enhance our users’ experience in a digital networked environment. To that end, we will upgrade and deploy technological tools to enhance access to Libraries’ resources while increasing digitization work to make more content available online to our users including discoverability of online resources. We’ll be moving forward on implementation of our IDEA Action Plan and related work to embed IDEA concepts and practices in UT Libraries’ values and operations. And the coming year provides the opportunity to strengthen our approach to open access, open education and open scholarship principles with additional tools, support from the campus community and an endorsement from the university.
On behalf of the entire University of Texas Libraries, have a great spring semester, and Hook ‘Em!