University searches for new Dean of Libraries


Photo courtesy of Heather Murphy

The current Dean of Libraries, John Wilkin, will be resigning from his position after 10 years of working for the University.

By JP Legarte, Contributing Writer

John Wilkin, University librarian and dean of libraries, announced he will step down from his position in about a year. The search process for a new Dean of Libraries will take place over the course of this next year.

Wilkin noted that he will be 66 years old when he steps down and will have completed 10 years in the role by that time.

“Not only is change important and good,” Wilkin said. “We have to see ourselves in a continuum of leadership where we build on what happened before and where we tee things up for those who follow us.”

The upcoming search process will involve a committee composed by the Office of the Provost, since it is the Provost’s responsibility to build the leadership of the University and search for and hire deans.

Students will have a say in who will be the next University Librarian, especially when it is time for the candidates to come to campus and engage in public presentations.

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“There will be a form that is shared with the campus that solicits input anonymously or by attribution, and everybody has an opportunity there,” Wilkin said.

Wilkin referenced management and stewardship as two key responsibilities of his role, citing the $50 million and 400 librarians that the University Librarian oversees.

“As a dean, that title signals to us that he is also a leader of faculty, faculty used in a collective way,” said Lisa Hinchliffe, coordinator for Information Literacy Services and Instruction. “With that comes all of the responsibilities of research you would see the other faculty doing. We have our librarianship work. We have our service to the profession and the community.”

Heather Murphy, chief communications officer, offered advice for the next individual who will occupy the role.

“This person that comes in will need to listen first and foremost,” Murphy said. “I would hope that the next person will have an open-door policy and, you know, be very receptive of everyone’s thoughts … but also realize that this collection that we have is priceless.”

Wilkin emphasized two actions that the new University Librarian must take to provide a good foundation for the plans and duties that follow.

“The person who’s in the role should waste no time getting to know the University of Illinois and the library and then to be as clear as possible about priorities, to declare those early,” Wilkin said.

When he considers what is next for him, Wilkin acknowledged that he doesn’t know for sure what the future holds. However, he expressed his plans to help the University continually engage with a future that only grows more digital as time goes on.

“When I look at the future, for me, it’s about helping the institution navigate really complex issues, doing what I can to support behind-the-scenes — not in a high-profile way — ways that I can support our leaders (to make) those rich, complex futures happen,” Wilkin said.


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