- Marlene Lacasse/Daily
By Amrutha Sivakumar, Daily Staff Reporter
Published May 17, 2013
The University's Board of Regents convened Thursday at the University's Dearborn campus to review a selection of infrastructure and personnel changes. Among these items was the appointment of Information prof. James L. Hilton as the dean of libraries
As vice president and chief information officer of the University of Virginia, Hilton continued to serve roles at the University that included special assistant to the provost for media rights, associate provost for academic information and instructional technology affairs and interim University librarian. Hilton has signed on to a five-year agreement.
University Spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said Hilton’s previous involvements with the creation of HathiTrust and other University library endeavors made him a good fit to administer to the libraries.
“It’s something that he is deeply involved in,” Fitzgerald said. “Everyone seems confident that he was the right person to continue to lead the library.”
The University Library is currently undergoing massive changes, as hardcopies of texts are being digitized and archived. Hilton said in a University press release that he would continue to foster this transition through his role.
“I am thrilled to be returning to U-M at a critical time in the evolution of the University library,” Hilton said in the release. "Michigan is a leader in digital information and I am honored to join the team."
University Provost Martha Pollack recommended Hilton to the position and reaffirmed that Hilton’s commitment to the libraries would be crucial to their development.
“As dean of libraries and university librarian, James' vision and leadership will be essential to our ability to address the changing nature of information acquisition and knowledge dissemination,” Pollack said in communication with the regents. “He will contribute to the study and design of information access and preservation."
While digitization will continue to require a large share of the libraries’ time and resources, Fitzgerald said it was too early to tell if any other changes will come about as a result of Hilton’s appointment.
“I’m sure we’ll see (digitization) continue but where the future may lead, that will be up to experts like (Hilton) to lead that way,” Fitzgerald said. “To make sure that documents are available for future generations has always been a priority and I know it will continue to be a priority.”
Hilton will succeed Public Policy prof. Paul Courant, who assumed the role of dean of libraries and University librarian in 2007.
Fitzgerald said Courant stepping down from the position was not an abnormality at the University, as a five-year term was typical of most director and dean positions.
—Follow Amrutha Sivakumar on Twitter at @xamrutha.