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MIT Libraries Vision: A New Urgency

The need for open, equitable digital access to information has never been more critical or more compelling. In the midst of unprecedented disruptions to our work due to COVID-19, the MIT Libraries share a new document that articulates and amplifies our existing vision, with a sharpened focus, a new urgency, and a clear set of principles to guide our decision-making.

Adopted, May 6, 2020

The 2016 report on the Future of Libraries declared “we are on the cusp of a fundamental transformation of research libraries,” from discrete places where information is accessed individually, to networks of open global platforms where “knowledge and data…can be exploited and analyzed by humans, machines, and algorithms.” The report was a catalyst for the MIT Libraries’ vision for “a world where enduring, abundant, equitable, and meaningful access to information serves to empower and inspire humanity.” Now, as research, education, and our community have moved to a remote environment in response to the global Coronavirus pandemic, our vision has an increased relevance and a heightened urgency.

This crisis demands an accelerated transformation of our library into a platform for the creation, discovery, use, dissemination, and preservation of knowledge that is fully open and equitably accessible.

Our vision for the MIT Libraries, now and in a post-Covid future, requires a laser-sharp focus on collections, services, and technology with maximum and inclusive impact. Our priorities must align with those of the Institute as we exercise responsible stewardship of our resources, critically consider the implications of our choices on current and future communities, and make strategic investments to advance our mission in an uncertain future.

  • We commit to being a digital-first library; and will expedite our efforts to maximize digital access to content and services.
  • We will prioritize an open scholarship agenda that accelerates the progress of science, promotes equity and inclusion across disciplines, and reduces the marginalization of scholars and scholarship from disadvantaged communities.
  • We will invest in staff, services, and tools to support data-intensive and computational research and learning.
  • We will focus our physical collections, services, and spaces on an essential core — a portfolio of exceptional quality and singular relevance to MIT research and teaching, whose value cannot be meaningfully replicated in a digital or online context.
  • We will exercise bold leadership in defining a model for research libraries in an unpredictable future.

In the face of unprecedented global challenges, equitable and open access to knowledge is more critical than ever. With an urgency to match the moment, the MIT Libraries recommits our resources and expertise toward the pursuit of our enduring vision. Now and always, the MIT Libraries will support, equip, and inspire each other and the MIT community to solve complex problems in the service of humankind.