A Message from the University Librarian

Photo of Deborah JakubsI want to take a moment to say thank you for your support and encouragement of the Duke University Libraries.  We have faced many challenges over the past months, but our staff has shown its resilience and our community has come together in a way that only a Duke community could—with compassion, strength, and an eagerness to serve.

On March 18, the Libraries closed our doors to patrons in response to COVID-19.  Our staff quickly adapted, digitizing as many course reserves as possible while also assisting faculty as they transitioned to online teaching.  Our work has neither stopped nor slowed down as we have learned to run a world-class academic research library from our homes.  Our librarians and data experts remain as available as ever to our users, and our collections development and technical service teams have been working behind the scenes to make our books and e-resources as accessible as possible.

This summer also brought the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, as well as numerous other abuses of power against Black Americans.  We have re-committed to our mission of inclusiveness and our dedication to support excellence in research, teaching, and learning for all members of the Duke community and for researchers around the world.  We strive to create a welcoming environment for all who walk through our doors or log on to our website.  Yet, we recognize that racial injustice is rooted in historical and systemic white supremacy, and that our institution has played a role in that injustice.  We are prioritizing our commitment to one of the guiding principles in our strategic plan: “Diversity Strengthens Us.”  We have already identified a number of actions we will take across the Libraries at Duke, and we will continue to work actively to identify others.

As our community has come together in this time of uncertainty, I am reminded of the strength of our libraries and those who work to advance them.  Libraries endure—thanks in part to supporters like you.  Through it all, we have had a remarkable year at Duke Libraries.  We have continued to raise money for the renovation of Lilly Library, acquired exciting new collections, and hired a number of talented staff to join us in our mission of excellence.  Here are just a few of our accomplishments:

  • Upcoming Renovation of Lilly Library: This continues to be our top fundraising priority. More than 1,700 first-year students make East Campus their home each year, and Lilly serves as their gateway library.  The plans for renovation and expansion will modernize spaces and ensure the facility meets today’s standards for safety, accessibility, usability, and service.
  • Consumer Reports Archive Acquisition: This massive collection includes archival materials, books, photographs, and artifacts documenting the history of Consumer Reports, the mission-driven nonprofit committed to creating a fair, safe, and transparent marketplace for consumers. The collection offers researchers from multiple fields a rich historical repository.
  • Five Hundred Years of Women’s Work: The Lisa Unger Baskin Collection: This exhibit provided a first glimpse of the diversity and depth of the Baskin Collection and was the largest single-collection exhibit ever presented by the Libraries. The exhibit later traveled to the Grolier Club in New York, and was celebrated with symposia, workshops, and tours.

These are just a few highlights of this year.  You can read more about what we’re doing in response to this unprecedented year of change in our feature story, “Living Through History.”  Thank you again for your generous support.


Deborah Jakubs
Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian & Vice Provost for Library Affairs