The Penn Libraries Directorship
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Carton Rogers
Vice Provost and Director of the Penn Libraries
Carton Rogers

Carton Rogers' long and distinguished career at Penn has involved nearly every aspect of library planning and administration, and reflects the remarkable transformation that academic libraries have experienced in the last quarter century.

After graduation from Marietta College with a BA in History and later earning a Masters' in Library Science from Drexel University, Carton came to Penn to head reference and technical services in the Biomedical Library. His arrival in 1975 coincided with an extraordinary revolution in library technology, a revolution that Penn would influence under the leadership of Richard DeGennaro and his successors. In 1979, DeGennero placed Carton in charge of library finance and administration. As part of the senior management team, Carton helped steer the University into the Research Libraries Group, where Penn pioneered systems that became the forerunners of online catalogs and a range of networked information services. Carton held this position until 1985, when he became Director for Technical Services and, with DeGennaro and Collection Development head Bernard Ford, was instrumental in moving acquisitions, cataloging, and inventory control processes into the electronic age. In the years that followed, Carton was a key planner in the evolution of the web-based catalog at Penn. He helped guide the integration of electronic journals and e-books into library collections, and played a pivotal role in re-engineering the Libraries' organization structure to reap the advantages of new technologies. Along the way, Carton also held interim directorships in Library Systems, Public Services, and Special Collections.

In 2004, President Gutmann appointed Carton Vice Provost and Director of Libraries. As Penn's eleventh university librarian, he has overseen the continuing transformation of the Libraries' physical and virtual presences -a transformation that resulted in the Weigle Information Commons, the design of a new Veterinary Library, and the introduction of new services, such electronic reference and social networking applications for the Libraries' web space.

The Penn Libraries Directorship
" The Persian vizier Abdul Kassem Ismail (938-995) traveled with 400 camels that bore his 117,000-volume library everywhere he went. The animals were trained to walk in an order that ensured the books' alphabetical arrangement. "

The above item is from The Whole Library Handbook, a volume easily located on a shelf that never strays from the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center at the heart of College Green. If the erudite 10th Century vizier were here today as Penn's Director of Libraries, he might be troubled by the age-old question: how many camels does it take to haul five million books, 2.4 million microform items, and 32,000 serial subscriptions across the desert.

But in today's world, it takes even more to maintain Penn's position as one of the nation's greatest research libraries. The growing thirst for knowledge as we begin a new millennium requires harnessing not camels but all the technology born of the Information Age. Penn now commands a growing network of online electronic resources: catalogs; journal citations and articles; The Library of Congress; The Research Libraries Information Network; Lexis/Nexis; the Dow Jones News/Retrieval; and the Oxford English Dictionary.

Mastering Complexity, Managing Change

The Penn Library that began in 1750 with gifts of books from Benjamin Franklin, has grown to include fifteen individual but integrated collections. In addition to the Van Pelt Library which concentrates on the humanities and social sciences, the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center houses the Rare Book and Manuscript Library with its rare and historic manuscripts, the Wharton School's Lippincott Library, and the Music Library with the recent addition of its Eugene Ormandy Listening Center.

Beyond the walls of the Library Center, students and scholars find a wealth of specialized resources at the Annenberg School for Communication Library, the Biomedical Library, the Chemistry Library, the Dental School's Leon Levy Library, the Engineering and Applied Science Library, the Fisher Fine Arts Library, the Mathematics-Physics-Astronomy Library, the Museum Library, and the Veterinary School Library.

It is the daunting task of the Director of the Penn Libraries to preside over this vast array of stored knowledge. In an age of increasing interdisciplinary and international complexity, many elements are needed to meet the research needs of the entire Penn community. Together with the best that technology has to offer, first-rate collections, and an accomplished and dedicated staff, the Director of the Penn Libraries plays a key role in the University's ongoing strength.

The venerable Penn Libraries are the seat of learning at the University. Isn't it time we offered our Director a Chair?

The University of Pennsylvania was fortunate to have as its early Library Directors a leader in the development of research libraries. Use this link for a look at the life and work of Charles W. David, scholar and librarian.