Convocation Challenge: Define ‘Library of the Future’


In his fall convocation address Wednesday afternoon, NMU President Les Wong said the campus community this year must begin to confront one of the most complicated issues of his presidency: defining a “library of the future” for Northern.


“We have time before we’ll have funds to completely renovate the Edgar Harden Learning Resources Center (LRC),” Wong said. “But when we can, what should we do? What should our new library look like, what should it have in it and how can we build it so it remains a highly functional facility 20 years later? … With our talent, our IT infrastructure and notebook computers, we must begin to think and talk about NMU’s library of the future. The tradition and power of reading won’t change, but the nature, scope and challenge of managing information in meaningful ways will—it’s doing so already.”


Wong said he will meet with Darlene Walch (Academic Information Services) and her team to initiate the discussion. He will also seek university-wide input. On a related note, he encouraged employees to offer feedback on the new campus master plan being developed by a consulting firm for the university’s physical campus. The effort might impact future plans for Dining Services and the NMU Bookstore in addition to the LRC.


With help from the President’s Council, Wong said he has been working on “NMU’s Roadmap to 2015.” He described it as a tool to discuss what is being done, when, by whom, toward what goal and at what cost. Wong said recruiting, retaining and graduating students remains the top priority. To offset a drop in the traditional college-aged population, he said NMU must continue to revamp its recruiting efforts and consider changes in academic offerings and how they are delivered to new populations. He also said NMU must strive for even more innovation in all university processes and “continue to fulfill our civic duty and promote the interests of our campus, our area and the entire U.P.”


Wong said the university completed the first round of action projects toward its goal of being reaccredited as an Academic Quality Improvement Process (AQIP) institution. The 2007 action projects include enhancing the campus climate for scholarship, improving and expanding online education, developing strategies for a more sustainable, environmentally-conscious university, and revising NMU’s mission, vision and goals for the future.


Transformation was the dominant theme of Wong’s convocation. He only referenced the budget situation briefly at the end of his speech. He said NMU will continue to be challenged by unpredictable state support and the university must ramp up its efforts to counter an accelerated rate of erosion.


“In the face of this unpredictability will be the challenge to seek revenue sources through creative programming and enrollment management that will not deter us from our vision,” Wong said.

The full text of the convocation speech is available here.


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Updated: August 22, 2007

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