Yesterday Larry Alford joined the University of Toronto as its new Chief Librarian. Larry is responsible for the UofT Library system which is the largest research library in Canada and among the largest in the world. Mr. Alford is only the 6th permanent Chief Librarian at UofT since 1892. Larry replaces Carole Moore who retired earlier this summer after leading the Library for over 25 years and overseeing the transformation of the UofT Library system from a good Canadian library to one of the great research libraries in the world – matching the University’s aspiration to join the ranks of the world’s great research institutions. In the most recent available Association of Research Libraries (ARL) statistics, UofT is ranked 4th in total volumes and near the top in most of the ARL’s 22 different rank order tables.
Larry comes to the UofT from Temple University where he was the Vice Provost for Libraries, University Librarian and Dean of University Libraries. Under Larry’s leadership Temple Libraries experienced its own transformation in collections and services that saw Temple make a huge jump in the ARL rankings.
So what does this have to do with legal information? This is an exciting and transitional time for libraries and people like Larry will be shaping the discussion and decisions on issues around digitization, open access, licensing vs. owning content, and intellectual property that will affect how we access information – including legal information. Larry has a deep appreciation of these issues as well as an excellent understanding of traditional library functions and the important role that collaboration among and between institutions will play in how we access and preserve information.