Charles D. Eckman, who launched initiatives and programs that helped dramatically improve the research libraries at some of North America’s top universities, has been named the University of Miami’s new dean of libraries, a role in which he will provide leadership and management responsibilities for the institution’s vast holdings of books, journals, digital materials, and rare collections.
Eckman, who is currently dean of library services and university librarian at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, will assume his new role at UM on December 1. He replaces William D. Walker, who had held the post since 2003 before stepping down last May to rejoin the faculty.
“Dr. Eckman has an impressive track record as an innovative research librarian and will be instrumental in our continued rise as one of the best library resources in the Southeastern United States,” said UM President Donna E. Shalala.
At Simon Fraser, Eckman led a strategic planning process that resulted in a five-year plan for the library’s engagement within the university and with external communities. He also spearheaded a sustainability planning process for the Public Knowledge Project, a global scholarly communications initiative hosted at the SFU Library, and he collaborated with the dean of graduate studies to develop a Research Commons program within the library.
“Following a national search that considered distinguished candidates from major research libraries in the country, it became clear that Charles Eckman was an unusually experienced and scholarly librarian whose collaborative leadership style perfectly suits the needs of the University of Miami,” said UM Executive Vice President and Provost Thomas J. LeBlanc. “In the rapidly changing world of research libraries, the University will need leadership that is equally comfortable with the scholarly traditions of the past and the digital technologies that will define the future. I am pleased that we have found such a leader in Dr. Eckman.”
At UM, Eckman takes over a University of Miami Libraries system that ranks among the top 50 research libraries in North America and is noted for offering comprehensive resources of information to support and enhance the University’s research, teaching, and learning initiatives.
Eckman, who was associate university librarian and director of collections at UC-Berkeley before he joined Simon Fraser, said he is “looking forward to working with the senior leadership at UM Libraries to identify strategic priorities and the critical recruitments that need to take place.”
“These are challenging times for higher education. There are tremendous transformations under way in the delivery of instruction and in the conduct of research,” Eckman explained. “Libraries have been at the heart of the higher education enterprise for a long time. In order for them to remain at the core of that enterprise and to provide the contribution that really only they can provide even as the modes of the delivery of education are changing, they need to be vibrant, dynamic, and responsive and listen to their communities very closely.”
John Paul Russo, chair of the Department of Classics in UM’s College of Arts and Sciences, who headed the search committee for a new dean of libraries, calls Eckman “a brilliant intellectual and a librarians’ librarian who has mastered every aspect of the craft in his experience at universities both research-oriented and student-centered. He will bring new vigor to the already flourishing UM library system. This choice puts someone at the helm who can steer securely into what is a most challenging future for libraries. As President Shalala has said, ‘You cannot have a great university without a great library.’ ”
Said Alfred Camner, UM trustee and chair of the Visiting Committee for the Library, “With his great experience in modern forms of media, Dr. Eckman will continue the development of our University library as a wonderful resource for our students, faculty, and the South Florida community in dealing with the extraordinary rapid growth in digital information.”
Anchored by the Otto G. Richter Library on the Coral Gables campus, UM Libraries provide broad resources in all areas and disciplines. Holdings include special collections housed in University Archives, Special Collections, and the Cuban Heritage Collection. Those collections consist of an outstanding array of scholarly primary and secondary source materials and also facilitate and support research programs for both undergraduates and graduate students.
The Libraries also continue to further the development of a robust virtual library of e-content, data, and resources available to users anywhere in the world—information made possible due to financial support from University administration and grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and The Goizueta Foundation.
The University is further supported by distinctive library collections housed by the Marta and Austin Weeks Music Library, the Paul Buisson Architecture Reference Library, the Judi Prokop Newman Information Resource Center, and the Rosenstiel Marine and Atmospheric Science Library. With combined holdings of more than 3 million volumes and access to over 74,000 electronic and print serials and 100,000 digital objects, the Libraries provide support and services for approximately 10,200 undergraduates, 5,600 graduate students, and over 13,400 full- and part-time faculty and staff. Other resources include 3 million items in microforms, 245,000 electronic books, and more than 300 electronic databases.
UM Libraries are a member of the Association of Research Libraries, the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries, the Digital Library Federation, the OCLC Research Library Partnership, the Coalition for Networked Information, the Council for Library and Information Resources, the Northeastern Research Libraries, and LYRASIS.