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University Libraries head leaving post

University Libraries head leaving post

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Texas A&M will search for a new head of University Libraries following the dean's acceptance of another job.

Colleen Cook will leave next month to be dean of libraries at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Replacing her in the interim will be Charles Gilreath, executive associate dean of libraries, until an international search finds a replacement, officials said.

University Libraries oversees the school's five libraries, which have 3.9 million volumes, 298,000 e-books, and access to hundreds of online databases.

Gilreath will take the helm as budget reductions loom and an increasingly digital world alters how libraries serve their users.

"I think we're going to be around," Gilreath said. "But I think 25 years from now, what we know as libraries is going to be very different. We're increasingly moving to being service organizations even more than we are now. There will be less emphasis on managing physical collections and more emphasis on linking users to the information they need."

What's most on his mind these days is money, Gilreath said.

Libraries, like other academic units, are bracing for up to a 10 percent cut in university-wide state funding. Libraries' portion of that is $3.1 million, according to preliminary budget reduction plans, which could mean a $2 million or so reduction in collections.

"It slows the growth ... but we have hopes that the reallocation process will help with that," Gilreath said, referring to a pool of $21 million that university officials -- guided by an advisory committee -- will spread throughout the campus' academic units.

Initial plans also call for the reduction of the equivalent of 17 staff positions, but that number could be significantly smaller -- though it's unclear how much so -- after reworking the budget and factoring in a voluntary buyout program, Gilreath said.

The search advisory committee will be headed by Jorge Vanegas, dean of the College of Architecture, who says that if all goes as planned, the body's work could be complete by fall 2011.

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