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April 20, 2011

Susan Gibbons to lead Yale libraries

Susan GibbonsSusan Gibbons, vice provost and Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of River Campus Libraries, has been named university librarian at Yale University Library, the nation’s second-largest academic library, with approximately 12.5 million volumes. She assumes her new responsibilities July 1.

“In 2008, when we announced the internal appointment of Susan Gibbons as library dean, it was met with a standing ovation from all assembled,” says Provost Ralph Kuncl. “Rarely does one get the chance to work collaboratively with someone who combines both creative brilliance and inimitable grace. If such a person can actually manage human organizations and still be beloved, then I find that person to be rare indeed. Such is Susan Gibbons, whose impact and presence will long be felt here.”

President Joel Seligman says, “Susan has been an outstanding and innovative leader who during her short time as leader of our library made an enormous difference. I congratulate her on her outstanding service and wish her the very best at Yale.”

Kuncl will announce transitional leadership for the libraries as well as a search committee for Gibbons’s successor. He expects a national search to last about six months and emphasized that the search team will “include representatives from all major stakeholders in the River Campus Libraries.”

During her 11-year tenure at Rochester, Gibbons emerged as a national leader in the quest to make academic libraries more relevant in the digital age. She spearheaded efforts to make library resources more accessible, to reach out through new social media, and to create new spaces for students, including the Gleason Library for undergraduates and the Messinger Graduate Study Rooms.

To guide these innovations, Gibbons and her staff pioneered the use of anthropological studies of students and faculty to better understand how they conduct research. The findings helped shape a variety of new software, including an innovative software suite of tools to discover library resources and a user-friendly online repository for faculty and graduate student research. Under Gibbons’s leadership, both services were designed by library programmers and are provided cost free to other institutions.

Gibbons and library anthropologist Nancy Foster have spoken around the world about the “Rochester method” of assessing user needs. The two coedited Studying Students: The Undergraduate Research Project at the University of Rochester. In recognition of her innovative approach, the Chronicle of Higher Education named Gibbons an “up-and-coming” librarian in 2007.

Gibbons joined River Campus Libraries in 2000 to work on digital initiatives and rose through the ranks, becoming associate dean in 2004 and dean in 2008. She holds a master’s degree in library science and a master’s degree in history from Indiana University at Bloomington. In 2002, she earned an MBA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and in 2009 an EdD in higher education administration from Rochester.

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