What a thrill it was to see students returning to campus these last few weeks! Despite the intense heat that accompanied our first week of classes, I spied a few of you doing just what I found myself doing: sneaking off for a few minutes to listen to Illini Marching Band practice, adding detours during lunch walks just to see the crowds on the Quad. As I was leaving the locked Main Library one day a few weeks ago, I bumped into the family of a first year, excited to be dropping off their new student and to be spending a last day together on campus, but disappointed that the Library had already closed for the day. It was such fun to be able to swipe my i-card and usher them back inside for a quick walk through the Library Gallery.
It struck me then, as it does pretty much every day I walk into one of our libraries, how much care and thought you all put into making sure our visitors, students, faculty, and other scholars have the best and most meaningful experience possible. This time of year, I want to thank you for all you do to prepare for the start of another academic year. Whether your work brings you into direct contact with students and faculty or not, it takes all of us to support this community. Thank you for hiring and training new student employees, planning and hosting welcome tours and orientation events, getting ready for another busy year of use of our print and electronic collections, teaching and providing expert research help, taking care of our physical spaces, doing amazing things with a dazzling array of technologies, taking care of budgets and schedules and personnel, and the hundred other things you do. When I talk with people outside of the Library, I always take care to remind them that we are so much more than our amazing, deep, rich collection – we are unparalleled expertise and exceptional partners in building new knowledge. I’m so proud of you all.
Have a great year, and see you soon I hope.
The Juanita J. and Robert E. Simpson Dean of Libraries and University Librarian