April 11, 2014

Nadler retiring after 50 years on job

Courtesy of Jonathan Lai

Judith Nadler, library director and University librarian, will retire on June 30, 2014, after almost five decades of employment with the University.

Nadler’s day-to-day duties as director and University librarian include leading library budget discussions as well as organizing other library services while maintaining an open-door policy to allow collaborative work among different groups on campus. She also established a Student Advisory Committee, which advises the Library about students’ issues and needs regarding library services.

Nadler expressed satisfaction with her 10 years as director.

“I have set my goals to achieve a number of things, and I have achieved them,” she said.

A landmark of her career was the planning and construction of the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, which houses books and materials in one-seventh the space of open stacks, has conservation and digitization laboratories, and can retrieve works from the collection in minutes with its automated retrieval system of robotic cranes.

“Mansueto is built programmatically and architecturally as the library of the future,” she said.

Nadler recalled that when Mansueto opened, some students tried to climb the outside of the dome. She remembers thinking, “How could today’s children have such ideas? Aren’t they afraid they might fall off?”

In addition to these developments, Nadler emphasized the importance of the bonds she made with students. She said the most memorable aspects of her time at UChicago were when students of years past would send her e-mails or postcards giving updates on their lives or thanking her for being a great mentor.

Looking back on her time as library director, Nadler commented on the changing role of the libraries in the University due to the growing role of technology and online resources, which has enabled students to work outside of the library. Nadler and her colleagues spend more effort reaching out to students than in the past, informing them of the resources they have in the library as well as expanding the library’s online resources.

Nadler commented that students tend to “rely on resources not sufficient for their needs and are too sure of using technology to find what they need.”

She also commented on the importance of the many spaces and the University’s various libraries to fill students’ changing needs.

“In your home you have different corners [or rooms] for different days [of studying] or for different types of activities. So this is true for the library…. The library should be your home,” she said.

The search for her successor has begun with the formation of an official selection committee, comprised of faculty of all disciplines.