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March 2, 2012

Nadler cracks the spine of library’s history

Director of the University Library Judith Nadler spoke about the past and future of the U of C Library System on Wednesday evening.

Nadler, who has worked at the library since 1966 and been the director since 2004, discussed the history of the library system at the University, from John D. Rockefeller’s founding book collection to the recent opening of the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library.

She described the transformations of the library over time as having been largely around centralization and expansion, citing the opening of the Regenstein Library in 1970 as the most important step in this process.

More recent challenges for the library stem from technological transformations that have led to catalogues and collections being increasingly digitalized.

“The 21st century has not caught us unawares,” she said, “but I don’t think anyone could have envisioned the magnitude of change and the pace of change.”

Nadler is confident in the ways that the library has adjusted to changing times and needs.

“I believe that in looking back, we have a very successful history in doing everything and doing it well,” she said.

The main reasons for the library’s success, Nadler said, have been the research focus of the library, its centralization, and its culture of respect for the past.

Nadler has great hopes for the future of the library, telling the audience that the library will continue to flourish, “if we are informed, but not encumbered, by the past.”

Those who attended the talk were also able to see a document from the 17th century that is the only contemporaneous recording of the famous, and perhaps apocryphal, story of Isaac Newton’s discovery of gravity while sitting under an apple tree. The Special Collections Research Center had put the document on display for the event.

Those who have helped build the U of C, Nadler said, would celebrate the library that they would see today.

“The presidents and directors of the library that came before us...if they were here, they would be proud.”Director of University Libraries Judith Nadler spoke about the past and future of the U of C Library System on Wednesday evening.

Nadler, who has worked at the library since 1966 and been the director since 2004, discussed the history of the library system at the University, from John D. Rockefeller’s founding book collection to the recent opening of the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library.

She described the transformations of the library over time as having been largely around centralization and expansion, citing the opening of the Regenstein Library in 1970 as the most important step in this process.

More recent challenges for the library stem from technological transformations that have led to catalogues and collections being increasingly digitalized.

“The 21st century has not caught us unawares,” she said, “but I don’t think anyone could have envisioned the magnitude of change and the pace of change.”

Nadler is confident in the ways that the library has adjusted to changing times and needs.

“I believe that in looking back, we have a very successful history in doing everything and doing it well,” she said.

The main reasons for the library’s success, Nadler said, have been the research focus of the library, its centralization, and its culture of respect for the past.

Nadler has great hopes for the future of the library, telling the audience that the library will continue to flourish, “if we are informed, but not encumbered, by the past.”

Those who attended the talk were also able to see a document from the 17th century that is the only contemporaneous recording of the famous, and perhaps apocryphal, story of Isaac Newton’s discovery of gravity while sitting under an apple tree. The Special Collections Research Center had put the document on display for the event.

Those who have helped build the U of C, Nadler said, would celebrate the library that they would see today.

“The presidents and directors of the library that came before us...if they were here, they would be proud.”

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