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Sarah Thomas Appointed Head of FAS Libraries

Sarah Thomas, vice president for the Harvard Library, was named Roy E. Larsen Librarian for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Sarah Thomas

September 25, 2013

Dear faculty colleagues,

With the enthusiastic support of the University Librarian Robert Darnton and the Chair of the FAS Standing Committee on the Library Joyce Chaplin, I am writing to share the exciting news that Sarah Thomas, the recently appointed Vice President for the Harvard Library (HL), has agreed to lead the FAS libraries. As the Roy E. Larsen Librarian for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, she will oversee and coordinate all FAS libraries, including Harvard College Library (HCL).

Before joining Harvard in August, Sarah headed the University of Oxford's Bodleian Libraries for more than six years, served two terms on the Visiting Committee to Oversee the Harvard University Library, and started her career as a preliminary cataloger in Widener Library. Sarah holds a Ph.D. in German from Johns Hopkins University as well as an MS in Library Science from Simmons College. She served as University Librarian at Cornell University from 1996 to 2007. You can learn more about Sarah and her vision for Harvard's libraries here.

Susan Fliss, who served with distinction for two years as the Interim HCL Librarian, will continue her role as Associate Librarian for Research, Teaching, and Learning. I want to take this opportunity to thank Susan and colleagues throughout HCL and the FAS libraries for their leadership and fortitude during a time of significant transition.

Sarah's two posts will be separate and independent. She will report directly to me on issues related to the FAS libraries and to the Provost in her university-wide role. At the same time, however, I believe that we will benefit significantly from Sarah's simultaneous leadership of both organizations. She will bring a sense of clarity and strategic vision over the libraries that will enable us to move forward effectively and in concert with the faculty on important faculty priorities, including developing collections, increasing access to scholarly materials around the world, and supporting teaching and research initiatives through library collections and expertise.

Since the launch of the Harvard Library in August 2012, FAS library heads and senior managers have been meeting to forge a unified identity and system. Their goal has been to achieve a vision of library experts across the FAS and Harvard working with the world's leading faculty and students to advance research, scholarship, teaching and learning.

Sarah has already been consulting with faculty, students, library leaders and colleagues throughout the FAS libraries to build on this work and to create a unified system that reflects both local and system-wide needs. While individual FAS libraries will maintain their unique identities and qualities, the creation of an FAS library system will enable greater coordination and collaboration in meeting the needs of faculty and students. This approach will also provide a more coordinated strategy for increasing professional development for staff, maximizing opportunities through technology, and utilizing space throughout the system.

Sarah's goals are to create library services that have a foundation of strong print and digital collections, to develop expert staff who focus on anticipating and meeting the needs of faculty and students, and create a welcoming and productive environment for library use. She will be consulting broadly with the faculty as she develops plans to accomplish these goals.

Please join me in welcoming Sarah as the new leader of the FAS libraries.

Sincerely yours,

Michael D. Smith