Dr. Daniel Atkins, the 1st Prelec Visiting Scholar, is a Professor in the School of Information and in the Dept. of Engineering and Computer Science (as well as Director of The Alliance for Community) at the University of Michigan. His teaching and research interests are in the area of distributed knowledge environments, including collaboratories and digital libraries with the focus on application of supporting team-science as well as distance/independent learning. He created a research and development consortium to realize a prototype of a “collaboratory” a vision around which a large and interdisciplinary group of faculty and administrators have coalesced their interests. The collaborary vision links people, computer-based tools, electronic information, and facilities to support remote, distributed intellectual team work.
Dr. Atkins’ Prelec Lecture, entitled “The Challenges and Opportunities for Libraries in the Age of Knowledge Nets” focused on the transition of academic libraries from print to hybrid and digital libraries; the evolution to “knowledge networks”; challenges and opportunities for Academic Libraries as a result of the digital revolution; and possibilities for the future. On the challenges side, he pointed out: 1) the need to do more with fewer resources; and 2) the potential for libraries to become marginalized as a result of the rise in the use, and the importantce of the Internet (e.g., the emergence of Amazon.com as the “most popular OPAC” and Google as the “most popular Reference Desk”). On the side of opportunities, he pointed out the relevance and importance of libraries and librarians to: