Louis Round Wilson Academy Formed

thelrwacademy.jpgInaugural meeting held in Chapel Hill

Citizens around the world are becoming more aware that they often need a trusted guide to help sort and substantiate the information they require. Faculty members at the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) agree that leading institutions are obliged to review and design anew roles and models for Knowledge Professionals who will assume larger and more pivotal roles in the 21st Century.

To consider and address topics ranging from knowledge, trust, ethics and stewardship that impact library and information science professions, a newly formed academy of world leaders met in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Oct. 6 and 7.

The Louis Round Wilson Academy has been convened by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Science as global thought leaders and information revolutionaries who serve as a modern-day council of elders.

Members were selected for their broad range of experiences and insightful outlooks that are focused on collecting, sharing and preserving the record of human accomplishment, activity and imagination. They are charged with addressing a future of constant change in which new knowledge professionals—experts who can help locate, evaluate and guide users to credible, comprehensive information that is relevant and reliable—must anticipate and understand the information needs of tomorrow’s society.

The founding members of the Academy include presidents and chief executive officers of information technology organizations, historians, authors, university scholars and librarians and information scientists from around the world.
“Our faculty, and the faculty of every leading University in the world, realizes that the role of the 21st and 22nd century knowledge professional must be carefully shaped,” said Dr. José-Marie Griffiths, dean of SILS and the founding chair of the  Louis Round Wilson Academy. “We understand that those who pursue careers in this increasingly important profession require an education that engenders responsibility for all knowledge that influences change.”

Her vision of the 21st and 22nd century knowledge professional resembles a cross between the Pope’s most trusted advisor and a Jedi
master—with every corporate, government, academic and scientific leader relying on this individual to ensure that the information on which critical decisions are based is accurate, complete, unbiased and relevant.

“Without trusted guides through the rapidly accumulating volume of recorded knowledge that is available, global society will lose both confidence and the innovative spirit. As knowledge leaders, we must move immediately to shape curricula and career paths that respond precisely to emerging needs in industry, government, science and academia,” said Griffiths.

“Citizens of the world are increasingly aware that they need help in sorting and substantiating the information they require,” said Griffiths. “I agree with fellow Academy member James J. O’Donnell, provost of Georgetown University, when he says the librarian of the future will have to be a more active participant in decision-making or we will live in infochaos.”

In O’Donnell’s book, Avatars of the Word, he puts what he refers to as “the historical moment” in which we live into perspective and points to what he believes may be our future as we move toward cyberspace. Both O’Donnell and Griffiths believe that information specialists and librarians of the future will be immensely important.

“If the traditional librarian has been conceived as a figure at home in the discreet silences and cautious dealings of a Henry James novel,” O’Donnell writes, “…now, perhaps the right model will be found in James Fenimore Cooper or the Star Wars films: something between the pathfinder Natty Bumppo and the Jedi knight.”
By founding the Academy, Griffiths and her colleagues intend to take on the extraordinary assignment of reviewing and re-designing roles and models for knowledge professionals entering the field as well as professionals who are assuming new and important roles.

The next meeting of the Academy will be held in Granada, Spain in spring 2006 at the invitation of the Spanish government and the University of Granada.

Published in the spring issue of http://sils.unc.edu/news/publications/newsletter/2006-Spring.pdf

Press release issued by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill News Services.

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