We’ve reached the time of year when the winds blowing across the campus are cold, but the libraries are warm – and student demand for library services is heating up. This year we’re particularly happy to see your students making use of our spaces to study, to collaborate with each other on projects and presentations, and to work with our library staff to conduct their research. These activities are happening in all three of our locations – the W. E. B. Du Bois Library and the Science and Engineering Library in Amherst, and the Wadsworth Library on our Mt. Ida campus in Newton. I was recently able to visit the Wadsworth Library and enjoyed the company of our students and staff there. It was a truly enjoyable day trip (just 90 minutes from Amherst for those of you unfamiliar with Massachusetts geography!) and I returned home that evening with a number of exciting ideas for how the Libraries can better support the unique offerings at Mt. Ida, including the very popular Veterinary Technician program.
The Libraries recently held our Fall Reception, which is an annual opportunity for library supporters (including UMass alumni with strong connections to our work) to meet and mingle with the library staff, as well as faculty and administration across campus. We were unable to hold the reception last year due to the pandemic, so it was wonderful to rejoin with friends old and new, and to have Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy with us to officially announce the creation of the Robert S. Cox Special Collections and University Archives Research Center (known informally as SCUA). Named for the late Rob Cox, who helped transform the university archives into a globally renowned destination for scholarly inquiry, this research center contains a dazzling array of unique collections, from the papers of W. E. B. Du Bois to a collection of East German packaging designs to the papers of Paul S. Kahn, an important artist, author, and activist for disability rights. With faculty actively working with SCUA to incorporate these materials into their syllabi, your students are offered the invaluable opportunity to conduct research on primary sources and to engage with the intellectual and material legacy of people who have changed – and made – history.
Of course, we’re also looking towards the future here at the UMass Libraries – and I strongly believe that Open Access (OA) and Open Educational Resources (OERs) are an important part of the future of Libraries. We are keenly aware that the high cost of commercial textbooks is a major concern for you and your student and that this can create a barrier to your student's success. That is why we are committed to the development of high-quality open educational materials in collaboration with our faculty. We’ve awarded Open Education Initiative (OEI) grants to three UMass Amherst instructors to adopt, adapt, or create OERs. In this twelfth year of its existence, the OEI has saved more than $1.8 million for UMass Amherst students that use OERs and existing library materials, and we’re working to increase both the availability of these resources for your students and the cost savings they represent.
On behalf of the UMass Libraries staff, I wish all of you a safe, healthy, and joyous holiday season!
Interim Dean of Libraries