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Photo from Jodie Masotta

The Vice Provost and Director of Libraries Carton Rogers will be retiring at the end of this year.

Rogers has been with Penn Libraries since 1975 and was appointed director of libraries in 2004. During his considerable time at Penn, Rogers has overseen many updates to the University’s library system.

“I’ve seen an incredible number of changes, both at the institutional level, and certainly within Penn libraries,” Rogers said. “Watching Penn become the kind of institution it is today has been very exciting and professionally rewarding.”

As director of Penn Libraries, Rogers led the initiative for the Weigle Information Commons; the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts; the Moelis Grand Reading Room and several other projects.

“I’m very pleased about how we’ve been able to transform space in Penn Libraries to meet changing user needs,” Rogers said.

Credit: Luke Chen Opening ceremony for the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Rogers said his relationship with libraries has a long history. 

"This probably says more about me, but when I was in college, I spent most of my time in the library," Rogers said. "I was totally immersed in material I wasn't learning in the classroom, and I felt that I learned an awful lot spending time in my college library."

Kislak Center Director William Noel said Rogers transformed Penn Libraries during his tenure.

"Carton leaves Penn Libraries with a film studio, a place where you can hire video equipment, a place where you can have a conference and even a place where you can have a party," he said.

Noel added that Rogers has continually embraced change while maintaining a traditional emphasis on knowledge and resources. He cited Rogers' decision to build the Moelis Grand Reading Room as one such example.

"One of the things that [Rogers] is really good at is seeing libraries as a series of different kinds of places," Noel said.

Previously, as the director of information processing, Rogers spearheaded Penn's shift from traditional paper libraries towards more digital resources.

“Navigating that organizationally has been challenging, but I think that Penn Libraries has met that challenge, and it's pushed us along to the top tier of research libraries in North America.” 

Rogers said he's faced pushback from some of his proposals to digitize the library, such as implementing an online catalog to replace the University's sprawling paper catalog.

"It did cause quite a bit of consternation in the community," Rogers said.

Penn President Amy Gutmann cited Rogers' ability to facilitate the digital transition of Penn libraries in a press statement released when Rogers' was appointed to vice provost and director of libraries.

Rogers said that although his role doesn't give him much of a chance to interact directly with students, he listed working with the Student Committee for Undergraduate Education for the collaborative classroom project in Van Pelt Library, and working with students employed by the libraries as highlights of his career.

Rogers said he’s also grateful for the support he’s received from Penn faculty.

“I’ve been really blessed by having great staff report to me, and I’ve really treasured the relationships I’ve had with faculty” Rogers said.

Art History Department Chair Karen Redrobe, who has worked extensively with Rogers in the past, praised his leadership and his openness to change.

“He’s one of the most generous people I’ve ever worked with at Penn. He’s a very quiet and modest visionary with outstanding academic values,” Redrobe said.

Rogers says that if he has one regret, it’s that more students don’t have time to access Penn library resources. Rogers says that he hopes that more students have the chance to explore Penn Libraries.

“We want you to handle primary resources. We want you to appear in our rare book and manuscript reading room,” Rogers said. "Take advantage of being at Penn. Go up there and pull out a 16th century book and just look at it; feel it."

And while he’s ready for retirement, Rogers said he’s thoroughly enjoyed his time at Penn.

“I think it’s safe to say that if I didn’t love working at Penn, I wouldn’t have stayed here for 43 years.”