Joanna Olmsted to Lead Search Committee for New River Campus Libraries Leader

Katie Clark and Michael Bell, both senior library leaders at the University of Rochester, have been tapped to serve as Interim Co-Deans of River Campus Libraries. Their terms begin July 1.

The pair will lead the libraries during the national search for a successor to Susan Gibbons, Vice Provost and Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of River Campus Libraries, who is leaving to lead the Yale University library system.

"Katie Clark brings to the position a thorough knowledge of library management and the deep admiration of her colleagues; Michael Bell brings a wealth of technical know-how, command of finances, and creative energy," said University Provost Ralph Kuncl. "Together they form an outstanding team, and in fact for some time they have already demonstrated that they are an effective team in day-to-day operations."

Kuncl has designated Professor of Biology Joanna Olmsted, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, to chair the search committee. She will be supported by Kim Weems, assistant to Chief Information Officer David Lewis. Other members of the committee will be named shortly and will include key constituencies. The search committee will be aided by consultant Jean Dowdall, senior vice president of the Witt/Kieffer Global Search Group.

Clark, a professional librarian who worked at Texas A&M, Penn State, and the University of Houston before coming to Rochester in 1999, has been involved in the library's leadership for the past decade. She was originally hired as the director of the Science and Engineering Libraries and since 2008 has served as the associate dean for public services and collection development. Clark has master of library science and master of science degrees from the University of Hawaii.

Clark was part of the innovative team that in recent years studied the research habits of University students and faculty using anthropological methods, as part of the ongoing effort to keep the library relevant in the digital age. She has authored numerous articles in library journals about these path-breaking methods and how they have helped shape more user-friendly library service, from social media outreach and online resources to the redesign of physical space and the extension of library hours.

Michael Bell, as head of information technology in the libraries most recently as assistant dean has spearheaded the development of many of those new online services. He led development of the Medical Center's Blackboard website that provides online learning and training for more than 10,000 employees and students, and he supervised development of UR Research, the online repository for faculty and graduate student research. Bell also oversaw the eXtensible Catalog, a new tool for simultaneously searching multiple academic databases.

As Interim Co-Dean, Bell will draw on more than 15 years of experience working in University libraries. Before joining River Campus Libraries in 2005, he served as manager of information systems at the Edward G. Miner Library in the Medical Center for eight years and as computing manager for two. Bell earned both an M.B.A. and a B.A. from the University of Rochester and is currently completing his master of science in library and information science from Drexel University.

For the next several months, Bell and Clark will guide a library system that has earned a national reputation as a trendsetter. Libraries around the country (at Cornell, Syracuse, Rice, Wesleyan, Harvard, and Yale) and internationally (in Paris, Cairo, Budapest, and Beirut) are learning the "Rochester method" of employing anthropological studies to better respond to their patrons. Thanks to a Mellon Foundation grant, institutions worldwide can now download the eXtensible Catalog's open-source software. The University's online repository for storing and sharing research, IR Plus, is likewise an open-source software and freely available.

Along with these advances in cyberspace, Gibbons and her predecessor, Ronald F. Dow, led the transformation of physical spaces in Rush Rhees Library, fashioning them into attractive and supportive work environments for students and faculty. The Martin E. Messinger Periodical Reading Room, the Welles-Brown Room, the Great Hall, and the Roger B. Friedlander Lobby were all remodeled, and the Hawkins-Carlson Room, the Gleason Library for undergraduates and the Messinger Graduate Study rooms were created from reallocated space.