Library Director's Message - Dr. Rochelle Kedar

Library Director's Message - Dr. Rochelle Kedar

 

Without knowledge there is no understanding;

Without understanding there is no knowledge.

Ethics of the Fathers, 3, 17.

 

Knowledge is that which one acquires from sources outside of one's self. Understanding is the result of one's own reasoning or insight, typically achieved by the practical application of one's knowledge. Knowledge is enhanced when human insight is applied in the clarification of known concepts, the formulation of new concepts, the testing of theories and the examination of actual cases. In short, without basic knowledge, insight cannot be achieved. And without human insight and understanding, new knowledge cannot be discovered.

The transfer of knowledge, the stimulation of understanding, the animation of insight, all leading to the discovery of new knowledge – together these define the mission of the Bar-Ilan University. The university's mission cannot be accomplished without access to information for both scholars and students alike. Within the framework of the mandate of the Bar-Ilan University, the mission of the Bar-Ilan Library System is:

…  to support the university's educational and research goals and objectives, by facilitating the convergence of scholars, researchers, students and information resources.  The BIU Library System strives to meet its' users' needs through the timely access to quality information resources, along with the provision of personalized reference services and instructional programs, thereby contributing to the development of inquiring minds and the advancement of scientific achievement.

 

This is not an empty statement. Bar-Ilan's libraries provide access to the most prestigious and important databases and scientific journals in the world. Every day hundreds of students seek our assistance in locating the materials they need. All our researchers utilize our electronic and physical resources on a daily basis. The BIU libraries provide instructional tutorials – both online and in the physical classroom – which introduce the undergraduate to the basic academic and research resources that are at his disposal, and to familiarize graduate students and senior faculty to the latest state-of-the-art resources that we have recently acquired. The cost of these resources is phenomenal.

Not everything is freely accessible through the Internet. The overwhelming majority of top notch academic research can only be accessed for a fee. The Bar-Ilan community knows that for premier quality scientific information resources – academic peer-reviewed journals, monographs and reference works – it must rely on the BIU library System.

But do we need physical libraries? The answer is a resounding YES! It is the libraries that are the portal to all this quality information; for it is the libraries and their dedicated staff that maintain these resources and assist our students and researchers to locate the best materials. All over the world, libraries are swiftly evolving to meet the needs of the 21st century student and changing learning patterns. Students today need spaces that allow for group study and creativity. Today "faculty expect their students to use their time in the library for thinking analytically, rather than simply searching for information." (Library as Place. Council on Library and Information Resources. Wash. DC, 2005,p. 5) Most courses today require of the students to produce group projects so that they are prepared for the modern work environment of team-developed products. Many of the stacks, especially in the Life Sciences, Medicine, the Exact Sciences and Engineering, have made way for just these "learning laboratories" and activities. On the other hand quiet spaces that allow for individual study and reflection are still very much in demand.  As stated in a report produced by the American Council on Library and Information Resources (Wash. DC, 2005, p. 6)

 

One of the fascinating things that we are now observing is the impact of redesigned library space on the so-called “psychosocial” aspects of an academic community. The library’s primary role is to advance and enrich the student’s educational experience; however, by cutting across all disciplines and functions, the library also serves a signifi­cant social role. It is a place where people come together on levels and in ways that they might not in the residence hall, classroom, or off-campus location. Upon entering the library, the student becomes part of a larger community—a community that endows one with a greater sense of self and higher purpose. Students inform us that they want their library to “feel bigger than they are.” They want to be part of the richness of the tradition of scholarship as well as its expectation of the future. They want to experience a sense of inspira­tion.

Librarians, or information professionals as we are now designated, serve as our patrons' navigators in this ubiquitous ocean of information, guiding students and faculty alike to the best and most the relevant information resources that we can offer. Our librarians are wonderful and I am proud to have served as their director.

Over the years, Bar-Ilan has consistently invested in the acquisition of the information resources necessary for a modern, multi-disciplinary university. This has left very little to invest in the physical aspect of our libraries. This is my call to you today – help us recreate our libraries so that they are learning laboratories and spaces that motivate our students to acquire  knowledge  and inspire them to develop their insight and their understanding so that in the future they may significantly contribute to the corpus of human knowledge  and the body of human endeavor. 

Dr. Rochelle Kedar

Director, Bar-Ilan University Library System

2012-2016

(Based on the speech delivered by Dr. Kedar at the unveiling ceremony of the Leibler Collection, June 8, 2016)