Interview With Colleen Cook, McGill’s Trenholme Dean of Libraries
“It’s not just a sound bite, but I have the best job on campus,” said McGill’s new Trenholme Dean of Libraries Colleen Cook, earlier this week in an interview with the McGill Reporter. “Whether they are undergraduate students, graduate students or faculty – whether they are chemists or physicians or lawyers in training or undergraduate English majors or German majors – they are all ours. The Library serves them all.”
What kind of impact has digitization had on the modern library?
The impact has been huge. Libraries are no longer tied to the physical world and so much of what we do is about convenience – getting users the information they need, when they need it, from wherever in the world they may be.
I read this wonderful report that used the term “lurking” to describe how librarians stay behind the scenes on the web to make everything transparent and easy for users.
We spend millions of dollars every year in licensed electronic resources. You can get to those resources if you are an authorized McGill member of the community from anywhere in the world at any time of the day.
Is this the death of the book?
No. Scholarly monographs will continue to exist but they will probably exist in electronic form, too. I do have a Kindle – I’m on my fourth Kindle because I break them a lot [laughing]. I’ve probably read 200 books on it because I find it very convenient – I like to read books in series and I can always get the next one right away.
At the same time, there are these physical objects called books that remain so important to us. Some of them are truly lovely objects. There is something very human about being able to hold a book and turn the pages and I don’t think that can be replaced. We’ve just added all these other [electronic and digital] dimensions.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.