The pandemic blindsided the UH Libraries, forcing the closure of all physical locations through Summer 2020 to protect patron and employee safety.
Now, with discussions occurring about increasing on-campus instruction, the new dean of UH Libraries and Elizabeth D. Rockwell chair will face challenges on ensuring safe material accessibility as more people flock to campus.
A search committee will interview the last of three top candidates for the position on Friday, bringing the University’s 11-month search to a close.
Associate dean for Academic and Research Services Marilyn Myers has held the position in the interim, after former UH Libraries Dean and Elizabeth D. Rockwell Chair Lisa German accepted another position at the University of Minnesota in January.
Myers’ successor will be responsible for seeing UH Libraries through the University’s reopening plan for Spring 2021, which intends to offer a quarter of classes with a face-to-face option.
One major challenge? Providing equitable access to digital materials and safe access to physical resources.
“Our electronic resources can readily be accessed remotely, but there are concerns about equity of access for those without adequate computing equipment and internet services,” said Patricia Oliver, dean of the UH College of Architecture and Design, and John Lehner, associate dean for Resource Management at UH Libraries.
“Safely making physical materials available is also a concern. More generally, the major challenges include improving support for research and developing tools and services to help researchers increase their productivity,” Oliver and Lehner said.
In addition, the dean of UH Libraries will also be responsible for administrative activities, such as budget and personnel management, and developmental activities that “advance student success, knowledge creation and preservation and globally competitive research,” Oliver and Lehner said.
The Provost plans to decide on the new dean and announce the selected candidate “no later than January 2021,” Oliver and Lehner said.