Omnia omnibus ubique
The Latin motto 'Omnia omnibus ubique' is carved on the pediment of Harrod's Department Store in Knightsbridge Road in London: "Everything for everybody everywhere." When the motto was chosen over a hundred years ago, it was preposterously ambitious -- but Harrod's has done more to live up to it than could ever have been imagined. At the ASU Library, we borrow that motto to capture the ambition by which we are driven: to connect curious students, teachers, and researchers to whatever information resources they need in order to succeed as master learners, as innovators, and as contributors to the solution of humanity's great and challenging issues.
Jim O'Donnell has served as University Librarian at ASU since 2015. In that time, the Library has undertaken a massive renovation of its signature Hayden Library, installed a new online system for managing the discovery, delivery, and use of print and digital resources from its collections and from around the world, established a new model for the curation and management of print collections, and reorganized and expanded its staff. As Arizona State University aspires to be 'the new American university', so the ASU Library aspires to be 'the new American university library.' Jim O'Donnell has written that the librarian of the future will combine the skills of James Fenimore Cooper's "pathfinder" with those of a Jedi knight. Those skills and the recruitment and commitment of an extraordinarily talented staff will take the ASU Library a long way forward toward living up to its borrowed motto.
ASU’s libraries include the Hayden and Noble libraries on the Tempe campus, as well as the Design and the Arts Library and the Music Library (also in Tempe), the Fletcher Library on West campus, as well as libraries on the Polytechnic and downtown Phoenix campuses – but their digital front door can be found anywhere, 24/7.
O’Donnell received his Bachelor of Arts degree at Princeton and doctorate from Yale. He served as provost and professor of classics at Georgetown University for a decade, after a career at Bryn Mawr, Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania. He is a fellow of the Medieval Academy of America and served as president of the American Philological Association and as chair of the board of directors of the American Council of Learned Societies. He was a pioneer in the scholarly study of late antiquity, including “Avatars of the Word: From Papyrus to Cyberspace” (1998), “Augustine: A New Biography” (2005), “The Ruin of the Roman Empire” (2008), and "Pagans" (2015). His translation of Julius Caesar's "The War for Gaul" appears in 2019.
O’Donnell has also been engaged in digital innovation for almost 30 years, starting with the establishment of the oldest online open access journal in the humanities, “Bryn Mawr Classical Review.” He taught the first MOOC in 1994, introducing 500 students around the world to the work and thought of St. Augustine. He served from 1996-2002 as the chief information officer of the University of Pennsylvania
While at Georgetown, O’Donnell led planning for new buildings for the business school and the natural sciences and advanced faculty excellence, while leading establishment of two new campuses: one in Doha in the state of Qatar, the other called "Georgetown Downtown," a new home for Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies for a rapidly growing population of D.C. non-traditional learners. In 2001, O'Donnell led a National Academy expert study about Library of Congress futures; and in 2009 he served on a national committee charged to make recommendations to the House of Representatives Science Committee about expanding public access to federally funded research.