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University Librarian announces retirement

September 30, 2014
Marianne Gaunt

Marianne Gaunt

Marianne Gaunt first arrived at Rutgers thirty-five years ago, working as a reference librarian in Alexander Library. In the decades that followed her arrival at Rutgers, she steadily rose through the ranks.  She became circulation librarian, then the director of the humanities and social sciences libraries, then associate university librarian for research and undergraduate services, then acting university librarian. She was appointed university librarian in 1997.

Over the past summer Marianne announced her upcoming retirement in December. She recently reflected on the highlights of her career at Rutgers.

New roles for the Libraries
With the explosive growth of technology, the Libraries have found themselves taking on important new roles in the university community. Librarians provide expertise and guidance in navigating copyright concerns as faculty members seek to use scholarly materials and exemplars from popular culture in their courses. Libraries staff created software to expedite the integration of digital theses and dissertations produced at the university into the holdings of the library system and make them accessible to the broader scholarly community. This software was subsequently released as open-source and downloaded by dozens of educational institutions across the world.      

The Libraries now assist faculty members in developing data management plans, to address requirements in federally funded research, and help faculty to make their research more broadly accessible through open access platforms in the RUcore institutional repository, which is managed by the Libraries.

Points of pride
Marianne takes particular pride in a number of major Rutgers University Libraries’ accomplishments during her tenure. Libraries personnel played critical roles in the development and adoption of two far-reaching policies at the university – a copyright policy adopted in 2007 and an open access policy adopted in 2012. The Libraries have established itself as a leader within the state’s academic libraries, helping to establish the Virtual Academic Library Environment of New Jersey (VALE) consortium, and also is an active supporter of national efforts to develop an  open source integrated library system (OLE).

The Libraries secured support that enabled them to expand and renovate buildings and study spaces, and to continuously upgrade technology, on all campuses so as to nimbly adapt to the changing ways students and faculty study and do research. The fruits of such changes are readily evident in the addition to Alexander Library, the new Art and Chang libraries, and the technology rich spaces such as the new group study rooms in the Dana, Library of Science and Medicine, Kilmer, and Douglass libraries, the complete  renovation at the Robeson library, the Scholarly Communication Center in Alexander Library, the Sharon Fordham Media Lab and the Information Commons at Douglass Library, and in other places.

The Libraries have consistently recruited talented and creative librarians and staff who have formed productive partnerships with colleagues across the university, which result in the receipt of federal grants, the development of new digital initiatives, and notable innovations in pedagogy. Rutgers librarians and staff have built a technology infrastructure for the Libraries that garnered attention from the White House and is continuously adapted to provide numerous digital services for faculty and students. Most recently the Libraries successfully and seamlessly integrated two well-regarded formerly-UMDNJ health sciences libraries into its system.

One of the most revealing indicators of the successes of the Libraries is the fact that graduating students regularly rate the Rutgers University Libraries quite highly (90% or greater) in their exit surveys.

Continuing challenges
Marianne foresees a number of defining challenges shaping the work of her successor as university librarian and her colleagues in academic libraries in the decades ahead. Foremost among these challenges is the escalating  cost of higher education, as new programs, new sub-disciplines, new technologies, and other changes all come with considerable expenses in publications, resources, and support. In the Libraries the cost of digital information resources escalates each year and, unlike books, databases are not a one-time purchase but a continuing financial burden.

An inspiring example of leadership
Over the course of her career Marianne has played a leadership role in academic libraries regionally and nationally. She served as president of the Association of Research Libraries, the major professional organization of the top 125 research libraries in North America, president of the regional academic library consortium PALCI, and was the founding chair of VALE. She also served on the board of the Center for Research Libraries, an international association, on the research libraries advisory board of OCLC, and on the board of directors of LYRASIS, a regional cooperative. In 2000 she received the Distinguished Service award from the College and University Section of the New Jersey Library Association and in 2008 she was promoted at Rutgers to vice president for information services and university librarian.

We wish Marianne a hearty thank you, and marvel at her many accomplishments, as she continues her work in the weeks ahead while preparing for her retirement in December. Under her exceptionally capable leadership, the library system and the university have grown tremendously and we are all the beneficiaries.

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