January 28, 2022

Interview With Larry Alford, Chief Librarian at the University of Toronto

The Q&A interview appears in the Summer 2013 issue of U of T Magazine. Alford was interviewed by Scott Anderson, an editor at the magazine.

From the Introduction:

With its 44 libraries on three campuses, U of T’s library system is the third-largest among North American universities. Guiding the ongoing development of this vast information resource is chief librarian Larry Alford. Alford joined U of T last year from Temple University in Philadelphia, where he was dean of University Libraries.

Here are two exchanges from the online version of the interview.

Q. What are the biggest challenges facing U of T Libraries?

A. One of the challenges that all libraries face is making sure that students are wise and savvy users of information resources. We think search engines have simplified access to information, but in many ways technology has made finding information more complex. People don’t know what is hidden to search engines, or what complex databases are not included in the library’s standard discovery tools, or what articles are peer-reviewed and behind pay walls.

Secondly, the digitization of vast amounts of information provides a new opportunity for the expansion of human knowledge. Researchers can look at trends through newspaper articles or other publications across centuries. They can analyze data to look for connections across different disciplines or within one discipline. This is an area where librarians need to work with faculty and graduate students as facilitators.

Q. What is the library doing to meet these challenges?

A. This year, we started a pilot project called “personal librarians” to make sure that first-year students have the name and email of a person who can help them use the library. It’s been so successful that we’d like to find the resources to extend it to every first year student and then to every undergraduate and ultimately every graduate student and faculty member.

Read the Complete Interview with Larry Alford.

Note: Along with his duties at the U. of Toronto, Mr. Alford is a member of the OCLC Board of Trustees.

See Also: Larry Alford’s Bio (via OCLC)

See Also: Video: Meet the Chief Librarian at the University of Toronto, Larry Alford (May 29, 2012)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.