Task Force on the Future of the UT Libraries

Introduction

For more than a century, UT Libraries has built one of the largest and most distinctive collections among public institutions of higher education. It has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the mission of The University of Texas at Austin community in research, teaching and student learning.  

The contexts and environments in which UT Libraries operate have undergone rapid change in recent decades, resulting in an ongoing evolution in response to a growing array of library resources, advances in information technology, proliferation of hybrid collections, and increasing user expectations of a digital ecosystem, to name a few. The future of academic libraries represents a conversation taking place at leading research universities – public and private – across the nation.

Key issues include:

  • changes in the nature of higher education and related policies
  • new and emerging technologies that support research in unprecedented ways and generate different forms and styles of research, teaching and learning as well as a diversity of scholarly outputs
  • evolutionary changes in disciplines with regard to primary source material
  • emergence of new degree programs with interdisciplinary content and methods
  • the growing corpus of analog publications and electronic resources
  • the lack of onsite space for collection growth
  • dwindling circulation of analog materials
  • new modes of user interaction with and expectations of library facilities
  • preservation of digital assets
  • reductions in funding for higher education

In turn, these drivers of change have led to new modes of thinking about library collections, services, space, and innovative operating models.

Academic libraries are an absolutely critical resource for the UT Austin community. As a “university of the first class” it is necessary to articulate and map a visionary role for the libraries commensurate with its standing as a leader in the state of Texas, the nation and around the world.  

As we develop a strategic vision for the future, we must be ever cognizant of the faculty, students, scholars, and researchers who depend upon the UT libraries. The task force will structure its work by engaging the campus community and soliciting input regarding experiences, needs, and perspectives from a wide range of relevant constituents. Moving forward will require change on all fronts, but we cannot lose sight of the people, qualities, and functions that form the enduring core of our university.


Task Force Charge

  • Develop a shared vision for how UT Libraries will support UT’s mission in research, teaching and learning.
  • Identify what resources are required to best advance the creation, discovery, dissemination, and preservation of knowledge to support UT’s mission while recognizing resource limitations.
  • Articulate realistic strategies for the University of Texas Libraries to advance the higher education research ecosystem.

The task force will deliver a report with recommendations for each charge to the provost in June 2019.