The University Record, October 21, 1998

Gosling recommended to head University Library

By Jane R. Elgass

William A. Gosling, interim director of the University Library since 1997, will be recommended as director of the Library to the Board of Regents at its Nov. 19-20 meeting.

In announcing the recommendation Oct. 14, Provost Nancy Cantor noted that during the national search for a director she “found tremendous support for the leadership role our Library has taken in forging a coalition between the traditional archival role and the emerging role of digital libraries. In the course of this process,” she added, “I also discovered wide-ranging national and local support for Bill Gosling as our Library director.”

During the search, which was halted by former Provost Bernard Machen in May 1997 until the appointment of a new provost, Cantor stayed in touch with philosophy Prof. Stephen Darwall, former chair of the University Library Search Advisory Committee, “and with people within the University and throughout the country, seeking advice and information on prospective candidates. I took it as my task,” Cantor said, “to learn about individuals and about libraries and where our Library stood in the community of American research libraries, as well as our pressing challenges and opportunities.”

“As interim director, Bill has exhibited the skills and attributes that we were seeking in the person who holds this vital University position. He knows the changing world of libraries and library services, and is a compelling advocate for the special contributions of a great research library.

“I am pleased that Bill is willing to take on this task,” Cantor added. “He is committed to providing the support necessary to ensure that we remain at the forefront of the changing library world, and to preserve the centrality of the library in the academic and scholarly mission of the University.”

Commenting on the recommendation, Darwall said: “As interim director, Bill Gosling has been forceful in advocating the library’s central role in research and teaching, and effective in gaining resources to support this mission. His appointment is a vote of confidence in a remarkably talented Library staff that continues to make Michigan’s one of the truly great libraries in the country.”

Gosling noted that “this is an exciting time in the history of great research institutions, which need to respond to the different expectations of students who have grown up in an electronic environment.”

“We have great challenges ahead as we manage the transition to provide access to digital and electronic resources while sustaining traditional formats to meet the needs of our student and faculty researchers. This may mean accessing some resources remotely, rather than actually purchasing them. A number of journals and reference books,” he noted, “are moving to electronic format, many of which require a licensing agreement.

“At the same time,” he added, “we must respond to changes in curricula, such as new courses, interdisciplinary instruction and support for distance education, as well as new methods of classroom presentation.

“There is great opportunity here to meet those needs, thanks to the generous support we have on campus from the provost, the deans and the faculty. We already have partnered with them on such initiatives as the Digital Library Project, a new structure for the School of Public Health Library that combines information technology and library elements, and the design and development of the new Social Work Library.”

Gosling is looking forward “to working with a very talented staff during a period of rapid change as the Library responds to a shifting environment to provide service at all levels, from the very basic to the most advanced.”

As interim director of the U-M Library, Gosling has worked to strengthen collection development processes, expand staff development and diversity initiatives, build the fund-raising program and work with staff to expand and improve all operations.

Gosling came to the University of Michigan in 1986 as assistant director for technical services, following work at Duke University Library and the Library of Congress.

He holds a B.A. in history from Bates College and an M.L.S. from the University of Pittsburgh, and is a Vietnam-era veteran.

Gosling is active in a number of library organizations, including the American Library Association, Association of Research Libraries, Michigan Library Association, Committee on Institutional Cooperation and the Digital Library Federation. He also serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Academic Librarianship, Library Acquisitions: Practice and Theory and the Journal of Internet Cataloging.


The University Library

The University Library actually is 19 libraries or sites. The most well known, perhaps, are the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library and the Shapiro Undergraduate Library, which also houses the Shapiro Science Library. Others are: Asia Library, housed in Hatcher, Biological Station at Pellston, Buhr Remote Shelving Facility, Film and Video Library in Shapiro, Fine Arts Library, Dentistry Library, Documents Center in Hatcher, Map Library in Hatcher, Media Union Library, Museums Library, Music Library, Papyrology Collection, Public Health Information Services and Access, Social Work Library, Special Collections Library in Hatcher, and Taubman Medical Library.

The collection includes more than 4 million microforms, nearly 300,000 maps, more than 23,000 computer files and nearly 20,000 films and videos. As of June 30, 1998, holdings totaled 7,071,665, of which 6,175,199 are in the graduate and undergraduate libraries.

The University Library ranks ninth or better in a number of Association of Research Libraries categories: Eighth in number of volumes (includes only books and journals), fifth in total number of current serial subscriptions, fourth in total materials expenditures, sixth in total library expenditures, fourth in expenditures for monographs, first in expenditures for serial subscriptions, ninth in number of professional staff, seventh in number of support staff and sixth in total number of staff.

Source: University Library


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