The Transformation of Academic Library Collecting

The Transformation of Academic Library Collecting

In October 2016, I was privileged to attend a seminal event, The Transformation of Academic Library Collecting: A Symposium Inspired by Dan C. Hazen, along with colleagues Lorcan Dempsey and Constance Malpas who were speaking. This occasion brought together a group of eminent library leaders, research collections specialists and scholars at Norton’s Woods Conference Center in Cambridge, MA, to commemorate the career of Dan Hazen (1947–2015) and reflect upon the transformation of academic library collections. Hazen was a towering figure in the world of research collections management and was personally known to many attendees; his impact on the profession of academic librarianship and the shape of research collections is widely recognized and continues to shape practice and policy in major research libraries.

Sarah Thomas (Vice President for the Harvard Library and University Librarian & Roy E. Larsen Librarian for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences) and other colleagues had done a remarkable job not only selecting speakers but designing an event that allowed for discussion and reflection. We felt that the event needed to be documented in some way, and were pleased that Sarah endorsed this idea. The resulting publication, The Transformation of Academic Library Collecting: A Synthesis of the Harvard Library’s Hazen Memorial Symposium, is now freely available from our website.

Drawing from presentations and audience discussions at the symposium, this publication examines of some central themes important to a broader conversation about the future of academic library collections, in particular, collective collections and the reimagination of what have traditionally been called “special” and archival collections (now referred to as unique and distinctive collections). The publication also includes a foreword about Dan Hazen and his work by Sarah Thomas.

The Transformation of Academic Library Collecting: A Synthesis of the Harvard Library’s Hazen Memorial Symposium is not only a tribute to Hazen’s impact on the academic library community, but also a primer on where academic library collections could be headed in the future. We hope you will read, share, and use this as a basis for continuing an important conversation.

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