June 15, 2021

Ann Wolpert, Director of MIT Libraries, Has Died

From MIT News:

Ann Wolpert, MIT’s director of libraries since 1996, has died after a brief illness. She was 70 years old.

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Wolpert began work at MIT just as the Internet was emerging, and her tenure was marked by her passionate response to the opportunity and upheaval that resulted for research libraries. In scientific, research, and university communities around the world, a debate, still unresolved, came to the fore: how the decades-old system of peer-reviewed scholarly journals ought to operate in the digital world.

Wolpert became a leading voice in that discussion; she argued for unrestricted online access to journal articles. In a February 2013 essay in the New England Journal of Medicine, she not only made the case for such access: She also called it an inevitability. “There is no doubt,” she wrote, “that the public interests vested in funding agencies, universities, libraries, and authors, together with the power and reach of the Internet, have created a compelling and necessary momentum for open access. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be inexpensive, but it is only a matter of time.”

Though Wolpert made her case forcefully, she was not dismissive of concerns about how open access might work in practice, and she upheld the value of peer review. “The fact,” she wrote, “that faculty members and researchers donate to publishers the ownership of their research articles — as well as their time and effort as reviewers — does not mean that there are no expenses associated with the production of high-quality publications. For all its known flaws, no one wants to destroy peer-reviewed publication.”

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In 2000, Wolpert helped lead the MIT Libraries’ collaboration with Hewlett-Packard to build DSpace, an open-source digital archive for faculty output that has been adopted by more than 1,000 institutions worldwide.

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Prior to joining MIT, Wolpert was executive director of library and information services at the Harvard Business School. Her experience previous to Harvard included management of the information center of Arthur D. Little, Inc., an international management and consulting firm, where she also worked on various consulting assignments. More recent consulting assignments took her to the University of New Mexico, Cornell University and Adelphi University in New York, the campuses of INCAE in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, MASDAR in Abu Dhabi, the League of European Research Libraries in Amsterdam, the National Library of China, and the Malaysia University of Science and Technology.

In 2005 Wolpert served as president of the Association of Research Libraries and was most recently a member of its Influencing Public Policies Steering Committee. She served on the boards of directors of the Boston Library Consortium, the National Academies’ Board of Research Data and Information (BRDI), DuraSpace, and DPN, and on the steering committee of the Coalition for Networked Information. She also served as a publications advisor to the Massachusetts Medical Society.

Wolpert received a BA from Boston University and an MLS from Simmons College, where she was an honorary trustee and a member of the board of advisors of the PhD Program in Managerial Leadership in the Information Professions at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

Read the Complete MIT News Post

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.

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