ACRL Member of the Week: Larry Alford

Larry P. Alford

Larry Alford is the Chief Librarian at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario. Larry has been a member of ACRL for 33 years and is your ACRL member of the week for August 27, 2018.

Larry P. AlfordDescribe yourself in three words: A proud librarian.

What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device(s)? I am currently reading the Liveship Traders Trilogy by Robin Hobb, Blood: the Stuff of Life by Lawrence Hill, and The Thoughtful Leader by Jim Fisher.

Describe ACRL in three words: Networking, collaboration, learning.

What do you value about ACRL? I value ACRL as an organization to bring those of us working in academic libraries together to learn from each other and to strengthen libraries and their ability to support learning and research. ACRL’s role in supporting and fostering research in library and information science is critical to the future of librarianship and strong academic libraries.

What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus? It is a joy to come to work each day in my role as Chief Librarian at the University of Toronto Libraries. I am privileged to work with extraordinarily smart and dedicated people. I see my role as trying to make it easier for them to do their jobs to enable and support research and learning across the institution and in the community at large. We are dedicated, as the largest academic research library in Canada, to collect for current and future scholars and to also preserve for future generations the historical, cultural, and research record whether in print or electronic form. We work hard to enable new forms of digital scholarship and to create tools to preserve the digital record including research data. We are committed to providing inviting spaces for students to work together or alone or them to thrive and for research to flourish. I am privileged in my own daily work to go from conversations on acquiring the oldest printed book in English in Canada (Caxton’s 1481 Cicero) to building tools to enable the preservation of research data for reuse and replication.

In your own words: I have been privileged to witness the technological transformation of libraries and the revolution of how we discover and access information. I began working in libraries when the card catalog and the shelf list were the principle tools for access and discovery, and I had the chance to work on some of the earliest library automation projects. I am proud that libraries were at the forefront of using computers to create efficiency, but more importantly, to enable far better access, discovery, and, I hope, preservation of the record of human achievement and experience. I believe the latter remains core to the mission and purpose of a great research library and is sometimes lost in the discussions about the 21st century research library. I am committed to providing the tools and information needed for learning, research, and a vibrant and exciting student experience today, while preserving the information that our great-great-grandchildren will need to understand their past which is, of course, our present.


Editor’s Note: Are you an ACRL member? Would you like to be featured as ACRL Member of the Week? Nominate a colleague? Contact Mary Jane Petrowski at mpetrowski@ala.org for more information.