Leadership Programmes Working Group

Library Directors Workshop 2021 – Programme Now Live

Posted: 12-05-2021

Embracing Uncertainty – What is the Impact of COVID-19 on Libraries’ Strategies?

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost every aspect of our everyday lives in a profound way. During these turbulent times, research libraries have been called to redesign, adapt and continue to offer their services, old and new, to researchers and students. One question, however, remains: what long-term effects will the pandemic have. To address this question for research libraries this Library Directors Workshop explores the impact of COVID-19 on libraries’ strategies. 


  • What is the impact of COVID-19 on higher education and research? 
  • Will COVID-19 advance Open Science? 
  • What is the impact of COVID-19 on libraries’ strategies? 
  • Are students coming back to libraries after the crisis? 
  • What is the pandemic doing to cultural heritage? 

Workshop Details

Date: 19th of May 2021 

Time: 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm CET 

Audience: Open to all LIBER library directors; you need to register for this event here.


Chris Bourg, Director of Libraries at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 

Chris Bourg is the Director of Libraries at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she also has oversight of the MIT Press. She is also the founding director of the Center for Research on Equitable and Open Scholarship (CREOS). Prior to assuming her role at MIT, Chris worked for 12 years in the Stanford University Libraries, most recently as the Associate University Librarian for Public Services. Before Stanford, she spent 10 years as an active duty U.S. Army officer, including three years on the faculty at the United States Military Academy at West Point.   

Chris has extensive experience promoting equitable and open scholarship, and is an advocate for the role of libraries in promoting social justice and democracy. She is currently co-chair of the MIT Ad Hoc Task Force on Open Access to MIT’s Research, and is a member of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine Roundtable on Aligning Incentives for Open Science. She is also a member of the Steering Committee of SocArXiv, an open access platform for social science research; a member of the Harvard Board of Overseers Committee to Visit the University Library; and chair of the Management Board of the MIT Press. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), and is past chair of the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion of the Association of Research Libraries. In 2016, Chris co-chaired the MIT Ad Hoc Task Force on the Future of Libraries, which produced a bold vision for research libraries in a computational age.  

Chris has written and spoken extensively on equitable and open scholarship, the future of research libraries, diversity and inclusion in higher education, and the role libraries play in advancing social justice and democracy. She received her BA from Duke University, her MA from the University of Maryland, and her MA and PhD in sociology from Stanford.   


Professor Simone Buitendijk MD, MPH, PhD, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds 

Simone Buitendijk is the thirteenth Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, a Russell Group University with a commitment to high-quality education, a strong and dynamic research base and a track record of social, economic and cultural development. She was previously Vice-Provost (Education) and Professor of Maternal and Child Health at Imperial College London.  

Prior to this, Professor Buitendijk was Vice-Rector at Leiden University in the Netherlands where she was responsible for education, student affairs and diversity. 

In addition to strengthening the links between education and research, Professor Buitendijk has extensive experience in driving the digital and online learning agenda. 


Dr Jessica Gardner, University Librarian & Director of Library Services, Cambridge University Libraries 

Dr Jessica Gardner was elected as University Librarian for Cambridge in 2017, following previous roles as the Director of Libraries at the Universities of Bristol and Exeter. Jessica’s early-to-mid career was in Special Collections, beginning at the University of Leeds in the 1990s. In April 2021, Jessica became Chair of Research Libraries UK (RLUK), and represents RLUK as a member of the International Alliance of Research Library Associations (IARLA). 

Jessica is also Co-Chair of the Jisc Transitional Oversight Agreement Group; a Director of the Agency of Legal Deposit Libraries; a Curator of the Bodleian Libraries; and a Trustee of the Friends of the National Libraries and of the Sir Winston Churchill Archives Trust. She holds a PhD (in British & Commonwealth Literature), MA (in Commonwealth Literature) and BA (in English) from the University of Leeds.  

Jessica is a Fellow of Selwyn College (Cambridge). She is also the University of Cambridge’s library representative for the International Alliance of Research Libraries (IARU) and one of the University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellors for ceremonial events.  


Andreas Brandtner: Welcome 
Astrid Verheusen: Introduction 
Simone E. BuitendijkCOVID-19: Rethinking global cooperation in higher education and research 
Chris Bourg: Our vision for the MIT Libraries, now and in a post-COVID future 
First breakout session 
Report of extraordinary discussions 
Break with some physical exercises 
Jessica Gardner: The impact of COVID-19 on library strategy 
Report of extraordinary discussions 
Hilde Van Kiel:  Concluding remarks

Event brought to you by the LIBER Leadership Programmes Working Group / Subgroup: Andreas Brandtner (lead), Catriona Cannon, Liisi Lembinen, Najmeh Shaghaei, Tatsiana Yankelevich.

Registration is now open here.