November 22, 2017

At Cambridge, Library’s Glass Ceiling Shatters, Other Traditions Remain

By Andrew Albanese

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In April 2009, a woman will lead Cambridge University’s library for the first time in the venerable institution’s 650 year history, when current deputy librarian Anne Jarvis will take over for the retiring Peter Fox. But for Jarvis, whose professional expertise is “emerging information technologies,” shattering the library’s glass ceiling is one of many old traditions to go by the wayside in an increasingly digital world.

“Young people are now used to information being instantly available via the internet,” Jarvis told the U.K. Press Association. “We have to think of ways of catering for change, while preserving traditions and meeting the needs of all our users.” As libraries in the United States move to more commons-type models, encouraging interaction among students, Cambridge’s library apparently still places a premium on quiet. Jarvis told reporters she has no plans to create “zones where people could make calls and talk,” in the library—but then again, as her appointment shows, things do, eventually, change.

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