May 15, 2008

York to the Power of 50: Chair in E-Librarianship created

The official announcement is today. The search process hasn't started yet (and I'm not sure if the time line is established yet on the search), but if it's the kind of thing you might be interested in, put your thinking cap on for a project. This is an amazing opportunity and a real step forward for us and really for librarianship.

A $1-million gift to York University through the York University Foundation from the family of William Pearson Scott is helping York create a new kind of library for the digital age.

The gift from Michael Scott, his wife Janet and their family, matched by the University, will create the W.P. Scott Chair in E-Librarianship, tasked with researching the innovations and implications of new developments in computing and information technologies. This extends to exploring areas such as e-learning, digital collections, collaborative Web spaces, social software, and interactive and integrative online services and information. The Chair will develop real-world services and programs for York University Libraries, ultimately benefiting students, faculty and the larger community.

"This is an exciting opportunity for all York's Faculties," says York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. "A Chair in E-Librarianship will attract leading academics internationally and advance teaching and research well into the future."

"It's an unparalleled opportunity for York to lead Canadian innovation in this important area of learning," says University Librarian Cynthia Archer. "In fact this is the only Chair of its kind in Canada." The Chair will evolve quickly as technology does. The establishment of the Chair also supports York to the Power of 50, the University's fundraising campaign – already at more than $150 million in pledges or three quarters of the way toward its $200-million goal.

The interdisciplinary research possibilities for the W.P. Scott Chair in E-Librarianship are wide-ranging in scope. Specific projects could include advancing student engagement by incorporating such applications as Facebook, blogs, wikis and RSS feeds; exploring the provision of electronic books online for children in the developing world; establishing a presence in Second Life, an online virtual world inhabited by millions of "residents"; taking part in anthropological studies of students in a wired library; reviewing emerging economic models for electronic publishing; and creating and enhancing virtual research communities where scholars around the world can collaborate on common projects.

"The Internet has produced learning opportunities never before thought possible. Today's students and scholars are digitally savvy and want information to come to them – on demand," says Archer. "Ultimately, technology is transforming not only the way libraries operate, but universities as well. We must respond to the way today's students research and learn."

The Scott family was excited about the forward-looking nature of the project and felt naming the Chair was both a fitting tribute to the late William Pearson Scott and a way to continue his pioneering support of York.

William Pearson Scott – Pete Scott to friends and family – was one of the first members of the York University Board of Governors in 1959 and served as the chair of the board from 1966 to 1971. Never having attended university himself, Scott was one of York's greatest supporters during its formative years, also serving as the chairman of the finance committee. He spent most of his career with Wood Gundy. In the First World War, he was a lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps Special Reserve. During his life, he was also actively involved with the Toronto Arts Foundation, Stratford Festival, Toronto Board of Trade, United Community Fund, Toronto General Hospital and Wellesley Hospital. He was conferred with an honorary doctorate of laws (LLD) from York in 1971; and both the Scott Library and the Scott Religious Centre are named in his honour. Last year, a renovated room on the third floor of the Scott Library was named the W.P. Scott Study Room in recognition of a generous gift from the W.P. Scott Charitable Foundation.

For more information, visit the York University Foundation Web site.

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