One of the (many) feel-good parts of this job is having the opportunity to attend events across University of Rochester Libraries. Each of these events reinforces the positive impact our work has on research and learning within and outside the University.

In the past month or so I attended the pre-college extended reality (XR) showcase held in Studio X and at Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation (RBSCP), a lecture by Hal Kanthor ʼ66M (MD) on Gilbert and Sullivan.

The XR showcase highlighted virtual reality-based videogames created by students, who had two weeks to work on their games alone or in teams. The creativity on display was amazing. Games were visually stimulating, thoughtful, and humorous all at the same time. But the most affecting part for me was seeing how students and staff were equally invested in and energized by the games. In my short time as dean, I’ve found many reasons to be excited about Studio X’s future, and the showcase succeeded in enriching that feeling. I feel privileged to watch Studio X mature and find new ways to engage our community in the world of XR.

The Hal Kanthor talk was especially riveting. If you weren’t able to attend, Hal showed the extent to which posters and other Gilbert and Sullivan ephemera had an impact on 19th-century advertising. It was an aspect of the operatic world I had never considered. In fact, it struck me these men were effectively social media influencers for their time. You can read more about the collection that inspired this talk here, in a piece that includes commentary from Jessica Lacher-Feldman, exhibitions and special projects manager for RBSCP.

At face value, Gilbert and Sullivan and XR have almost nothing in common. But after attending both events, and having some time to reflect, I found that they both involved innovation and creativity in a way that targets and individual’s perception. Admittedly, it’s not a perfect link. The better and more important link is that they are both River Campus Libraries events. And that’s significant because it’s a small demonstration of the range of our work. The libraries have always been and will remain a common thread in learning and research at Rochester.

Kevin Garewal
Vice Provost and Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean
University of Rochester Libraries