Retirement of University Librarian David Bishop
I am writing to inform you that David Bishop will be retiring from his position as the Charles Deering McCormick University Librarian in Summer 2006, following 14 years of distinguished service to Northwestern. In Spring 2005, David advised me of his intention to conclude his career of 42 years in research librarianship next June. This afternoon he informed his staff of that decision.
Henry and I very much regret David’s decision. But, having contributed so much to the University during his eventful tenure, he richly deserves the rewards of retirement. As University Librarian, David has been a greatly valued colleague who quietly, but ever so effectively, worked to ensure that our libraries met the current – and future! – needs of our students and faculty. He was one of those colleagues in whom one had such confidence that we never worried about the areas for which he was responsible; we knew that they were in unusually capable hands.
David became the Charles Deering McCormick University Librarian at Northwestern in July of 1992. Prior to that had been University Librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Earlier in his career he also served as Director of Libraries at the University of Georgia and Assistant Director for Technical Services at the University of Chicago Library .
The thirteen years of David’s tenure have seen many changes in the Library. The collections grew from 3.6 million volumes to over 4.4 million. During that same time, the total annual budget grew by over 10 million dollars to 25.6 million, and the materials budget more than doubled from 5 million to 11.2 million. In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in electronic resources and now the Library receives over 45,000 electronic journals and provides access to over 55,000 electronic books. Finally, thanks to David’s energy and skill as a fundraiser, the Library’s endowment grew by nearly 30 million dollars during the past decade, effectively doubling the endowment resources available to support the Library’s work.
While impressive, such figures barely capture the dramatic changes David oversaw in his leadership of the Library. When David arrived at Northwestern, the World Wide Web was little more than the dream of some computer scientists. In the intervening years, the Web and other, related technologies have revolutionized the understanding of the role of an academic, research library. David had both the imagination and foresight to appreciate the important implications of those developments, just as he had the talent to garner support for technology-related initiatives from internal and external constituencies. Early in his tenure he requested and obtained funding to convert the Library’s cataloging records into machine readable form. This paved the way for the elimination of the card catalog a few years later; and in place of the card catalog, the General Information Center was created. This facility provided a place for students and faculty to do library computer work and get assistance from the staff all of the hours that the Library was open. This past year the General Information Center was reconceived and renamed the Information Commons. The Information Commons, jointly staffed by the Library and Academic Technology, provides both library and academic technology computer software as well as assistance in using this software. That the Information Commons is a joint enterprise with Academic Technology bespeaks the collaborative spirit which has informed David’s work.
While he led the Library through the rapid technological changes at the turn of the century, David also attended conscientiously to the needs of the Library as a structure. He completed a master space plan in 1995, and each year since then one phase of renovation has occurred. Among the projects have been the creation of 2East and the Transportation library, and the renovation of the Reference Room, the Periodicals Room and the Core and Reserve Library. Also, there was the building of the remote Storage Facility, the Plaza Café and the creation of the Music Computer Lab.
A token of our confidence in David’s talents was my request in 2002 that he assume administrative responsibility for the University Press. Under his leadership – and that of the Press director he hired – the financial position of Press has significantly improved and the focus of its publication program has been aligned more closely with the priorities of the University. For example, new areas in which the Press now publishes include theatre and Chicago regional publications, while new series were introduced in Latino Studies, Journalism and Business.
Over the years David has also been professionally active. He is a member of the American Library Association, and has served on a number of committees of that organization. He has also served on the governing boards of many organizations including the Association of Research Libraries, the Center for Research Libraries, EDUCOM, SOLINET, the Coalition for Networked Information, the Lincoln Trail Library System, and the North Suburban Library System. In addition he has served as Chair of the Center for Research Libraries Board and Treasurer of the North Suburban Library System. Widely recognized for his contributions to his profession, David has been called upon frequently as a consultant and member of accreditation teams. In 1991 he received the Alumni Achievement Award in Library Science from The Catholic University of America and in 2005 was named Academic Library Staff Member of the Year by the North Suburban Library System.
David tells me that, following his retirement, he and his wife Nancy plan to remain in the area and, enjoying the relative leisure of retirement, take fuller advantages of the cultural and other resources of the University and the greater Chicago area. We are pleased by the prospect of David and Nancy ’s continued membership in the Northwestern community, and we look forward to having occasion in the spring to express again, and more formally, our deep gratitude for David’s contributions to the University.
Lawrence B. Dumas