Celebrating an Impactful Year

2023-2024 Year in Review

A 1970s model Ford F-100 truck drives down Frew Street as spectators watch from the sideline. Hunt Library can be seen in the background. (c.1975)

by Sarah Bender, Communications Coordinator

The 2023-2024 academic year was full of achievements and milestones for the University Libraries. Over the course of two transformative semesters, key offerings and events showcased the Libraries’ evolving role at CMU, elevated its Distinctive Collections, and centered the student experience to ensure a lasting impact on campus and throughout the community.

Evolving Role of Libraries

Throughout the year, the Libraries increased the scope of its offerings, reflecting its evolving role on campus. Most recently, all university press activities, including the Carnegie Mellon University Press, ETC Press, and the Library Publishing Service, became centralized in one home under the Libraries on June 1.

The Libraries has also worked to grow its leadership in areas like open source software, environmental research, and sustainability. A short documentary film aired during the COP28 UN Climate Change Conference amplified the contributions of CMU leaders and researchers. In its fourth Voluntary University Review, the Sustainability Initiative highlighted specific accomplishments from departments across the university.

At the same time, specialists in the Libraries continue to explore the potential uses and impact of artificial intelligence in education, research, and beyond. The AI Literacy Hackathon brought specialists from 17 institutions together to develop open educational materials on the emerging principles of AI literacy. The Libraries also highlighted early, unique examples of AI art, gifted to the Libraries by author and generous friend to CMU, Pamela McCorduck.

Distinctive Collections

Distinctive Collections bridges the past and the present with expanding collections, exhibitions, and exciting research. The celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio continued this year with a lecture from esteemed Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt, as well as the launch of a new book about Shakespeare’s work and contributions to society at large, edited by Curator of Special Collections Sam Lemley.

Libraries faculty and staff strengthened ties with a number of campus and community partners through events illuminating the diverse collections. Archivists celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Field Robotics Center with artifacts and memorabilia from the Robotics Collection. “An Evening with the Architecture Archives” marked the 40th anniversary of a unique collection of sketches, models, and more that document the rich history of Pittsburgh and the region. ”Violins of Hope” at the Posner Center brought the entire Pittsburgh community together to reflect on music, diversity, and the human experience.

Even outside Pittsburgh, the Libraries has made an impact on research and scholarship in these areas. An interdisciplinary team of book historians, statisticians, computer scientists, and librarians helped restore an essential humanities resource for a worldwide community of scholars studying book history.

Student Experience

Fostering a rewarding student experience will always be a central focus of the Libraries’ work. This year’s Three Minute Thesis competition, with championships held in a grand new location in the Tepper School of Business, once again featured doctoral candidates from all seven of CMU’s schools and colleges. Ph.D. students had additional opportunities to develop their research with assistance from Libraries’ specialists — including a career-defining collaboration between a biomedical engineering student and the Evidence Synthesis Service team.

The Libraries’ workshop series reached a record 1,000 registrants this past semester. The Arts x Entrepreneurship series helped a costume production student launch their creative business, and a new room for instruction in Hunt Library increased opportunities for critical in-person learning. The inaugural Reproducibility Hackathon put published research to the test, helping scholars prepare research outputs in improved ways and giving students a chance to learn more about digital humanities.

A talented cohort of Sustainability Initiative interns traveled far and wide in the name of sustainability. In the fall, four interns attended the United Nations SDG Action Weekend in New York City. One intern, along with two other CMU students, was also selected to participate in a UN disarmament meeting in Geneva. Another intern received the 2024 Udall Scholar award — the first CMU recipient since 2009.

There’s much more not included in this list, including the 2024 Library Excellence in Access and Diversity (LEAD) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the research potential of the new data platform Redivis, and enhanced career resources offered by a partnership with the Career and Professional Development Center – plus a year’s worth of faculty and staff achievements, presentations, papers and awards.

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Feature image: "A 1970s model Ford F-100 truck drives down Frew Street as spectators watch from the sideline. Hunt Library can be seen in the background." (c.1975) Image from the University Archives, available online in our Digital Collections.