When MIT moved to Cambridge a century ago, our leaders envisioned a bold future. The new campus would not only provide more space, but also make a statement to the world about the kind of institution it would be, mixing people and ideas to create visionary solutions to society’s challenges. It’s no wonder then that MIT has become known for game-changing discoveries like the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, which made news recently by detecting gravitational waves — ripples in the fabric of space-time first theorized by Einstein. It’s the kind of knowledge that changes our very conception of the universe, and I am proud that the MIT Libraries could make it accessible to anyone, anywhere, who wanted to share in this big moment.
In that spirit of visionary ideas, we launched our ad hoc task force on the Future of Libraries, an effort to identify how we can lead — and not just react to — transformative changes in the information ecosystem. Over the last several months, task force members have talked with hundreds of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and others. The themes we are hearing are very “MIT”— the future of the libraries should be open, innovative, and interdisciplinary. Libraries are valued as both physical spaces, providing access to people and collections, and as sources of digital content and tools that accelerate research and learning.
It is clear that the MIT community recognizes the many ways the Libraries facilitate and inspire work across the Institute. The recommendations the task force will deliver at the end of the academic year will surely reflect the boldness, the creativity, and the nuance of these rich discussions. Please follow our progress, and be part of the conversation at future-of-libraries.mit.edu. I hope you will join us as we both look back on a century in Cambridge and look forward to a bold future for the Libraries.
All the best,
Chris Bourg, PhD
Director, MIT Libraries