Vice Provost & University Librarian at Washington University in St.Louis

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Position Description

Washington University in St. Louis seeks nominations for and expressions of interest in the position of Vice Provost and University Librarian. Reporting to the Provost, the University Librarian will be expected to expand the reach and access to print and digital collections and programming in support of research, teaching, and learning; foster internal and external partnerships and collaborations; collaborate with the communities of scholars on and off campus; recruit and nurture a diverse, professional staff; and garner and manage resources toward strategic goals.

The Washington University Libraries are a system of 10 campus facilities featuring vast print and electronic collections; and expert librarians, curators, archivists, and staff. The centerpiece of this system is the John M. Olin Library, a 220,000-square-foot research library which recently includes an expansion to increase special collections exhibition and storage capacity; improvement of the quantity and variety of seating, study, and research spaces; addition of a new north entrance for seamless access; and enhancement the accessibility and visibility of specialized research services and special collections. The Libraries are a member of the Association of Research Libraries, the Center for Research Libraries, the HathiTrust, the Greater Western Library Alliance, and MOBIUS (an alliance of 75 Missouri libraries), among other organizations.

The Libraries as a whole house more than 5 million eBook and print titles, journal titles, and database subscriptions. The main Olin Library houses over 1.5 million volumes. Of particular note among the Libraries’ collections are the Film & Media Archive’s Henry Hampton Collection, an archive of unique materials documenting the civil rights movement and other aspects of American history, the Eames & Young and Russell Sturgis architectural photograph collections, the Modern Graphic History Library devoted to illustration and cartooning, and the Modern Literature Collection which is part of the Manuscript Collection. Other distinctive collections include contemporary German literature; the Shimeon Brisman Collection in Jewish Studies; Third Reich, Islamic Studies, and Sheet Music collections; popular literature; and U.S. Government publications. As an U.S. government documents depository, the Libraries provide access to federal information in a variety of formats. Digital Library Program Services provides tools and services to support the WashU community’s scholarly publishing and digital scholarship and the University Libraries’ digital collections and assets.  Scholarly Publishing offers support to scholars creating digital projects, and promotes, houses, and preserves these projects. The Libraries Data Services unit makes Geospatial Information Systems and data visualization available to the entire university community.  In recent years, the Libraries have significantly expanded external funding from gifts and grants to support new initiatives, including those to support public service and community engagement initiatives that address social justice challenges in disadvantaged or under-served communities.

The Opportunity

The next University Librarian will join the leadership team of the University at a time of considerable achievement as well as opportunity. In the Autumn of 2019 at his inauguration as the new Chancellor of the University, Dr. Andrew Martin highlighted as priorities the need to enhance the research and scholarly enterprise of the faculty, to build upon the  foundation of excellent teaching by carefully assessing and improving the University’s curriculum and pedagogy, to broaden access to education for students regardless of their background or previous opportunities, and to strengthen the community of St. Louis. A new leadership team is coalescing around Chancellor Martin including Dr. Beverly Wendland who joined the University as Provost in July 2020. In March of 2021, the University announced the launch of an 18-month strategic planning process to develop a roadmap that will guide the institution’s direction over the next decade. The University Librarian will have the opportunity to play a defining role in enhancing the University’s academic distinction, supporting research, and strengthening educational experience through the library community.  This position requires a leader with strategic vision and familiarity with the evolving role of 21st century libraries in support of research, teaching, and learning.

The University Librarian must lead the staff and manage the business operations of the libraries; evaluate and prioritize the needs for and then invest in relevant technology; implement space allocations and designs for the modern library era; strengthen ties and build coalitions with allied institutions and internal partners; and advocate for the libraries and their missions. The Library enjoys strong philanthropic support, and the University Librarian is expected to work closely with the Library National Council and University Advancement to raise funds for the library. The University Librarian will be expected to foster and lead the libraries in accordance with the Chancellor’s framework for diversity and inclusion.

The successful candidate will possess expertise in an academic discipline and/or the field of library/information science; a record of setting and achieving strategic goals; a deep understanding of the changing nature of scholarly communication; a vision for the new roles academic research libraries will play; demonstrated success in integrating technology to support and improve services, build collections, and enable innovative programming; a proven record managing resources effectively; a commitment to developing best practices for the acquisition, preservation, and use of printed materials; and an uncompromising commitment to academic excellence, to the highest ethical standards, and to the creation and support of a vibrant and broadly diverse community of faculty, students and staff across the University. A relevant graduate degree is required.

The Search

Inquiries, nominations, and applications are invited.  Although the search will remain open until the position is filled, review of candidate materials will begin immediately. Candidates should provide, in confidence, a curriculum vitae, and a letter of application that highlights administrative acumen and leadership experience, and the names and contact information of five references. References will not be contacted without prior knowledge and approval of the candidates.

Materials should be sent electronically via e-mail to the university’s consultant, Dr. Jonathan Fortescue of Park Square Executive Search, at Documents that must be mailed may be sent to Jonathan Fortescue, Ph.D., Managing Partner, or Kyle Meingast, Principal, Park Square Executive Search, LLC, 225 Franklin Street, 17th Floor, Boston, MA 02110. Phone: 617-401-2991.

Washington University in St. Louis is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Washington University welcomes difference on our campus in the form of gender, race, ethnicity, disability, geography, socioeconomic status, age, politics, religion, philosophy, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and veteran status. All applicants who share this goal are encouraged to apply.