Feb 14

Life Changes

It’s been just a little more than seven years since I moved to Penn State. I haven’t been feeling a seven-year itch, but I’m thrilled to be named the next Executive Director of HathiTrust Digital Library.

I’ve spent most of my time at Penn State Libraries working on developing programs and services to help researchers and students create new knowledge, share it, and preserve it. To me it’s obvious that research libraries can’t continue to do this well unless we collaborate to develop shared infrastructure, including the tools, the systems, the expertise, and the trust networks we need. HathiTrust has shown that it is possible to do just that, and stands out as an example of what research libraries can accomplish when we work together to increase access to knowledge. It is truly a member-driven partnership. Our functions are distributed at the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois, Indiana University, and the University of California, and among the dozens of librarians and staff from across the more than 90 members who continue to contribute it’s development. I’m looking forward to joining the team that makes it go, and to working with many of you so that HathiTrust can do still more for its members and the community of users who visit it online every day.

I have mixed feelings about leaving Penn State now. The past two years have been challenging and often very disillusioning. But I never thought to leave because many, many people at this University are totally committed to the educational and research mission of a land grant university. That’s what drew me here to start with, and now we have a new president and a new provost: things are definitely looking up. I work with outstanding colleagues in the Libraries, Digital Library Technologies, Penn State Press, the Richards Civil War Era Center, the College of Liberal Arts, and in many other parts of the University. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished through ScholarSphere, the Humanities in a Digital Age effort, the People’s Contest, a developing electronic records program, and many other projects. It is very hard to leave the team that has made these successes possible. I’ve learned an awful lot about preservation, conservation, archives, records management, starting new programs, collaboration, and many other things from them. I’m grateful for my colleagues in the Libraries’ Dean’s office, who have always been supportive and tolerated frequent surliness over the last seven years. It’s a very creative crowd here at Penn State, and I cannot tell you how many times in the last week I’ve had a conversation that left me thinking “Wow, this is going to be so cool!….Except I won’t be around to work on it.”

I start with HathiTrust on May 19, and plan to be in the office until the end of April.  My wife, Ellie Goodman, and I will relocate to Ann Arbor, MI by the fall. Until the move I’ll work remotely and pay some lengthy visits to Michigan. I will not be totally disconnected from the folks here in State College. Ellie loves her job too, and she will continue as Executive Editor at Penn State Press, working remotely from Ann Arbor. We invite you over to take stuff we haven’t unpacked from the last move so we don’t have to move it again.

A lot of things about these changes make me happy, including the fact that I’ll have more chances to work with more of you on some really interesting problems. I’ll be looking for you.