July 7, 2016

Cornell University Librarian To Retire in 2017

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“I’m most looking forward to doing a lot of reading,” said University Librarian Anne Kenney, who announced her plan to step down in April and retire by October 2017. “There are just great books that have been sitting on my bedside table for a long time.”

Kenney said she has served as the Carol A. Kroch University Librarian since 2008, managing the institution’s $55 million budget, the 18 libraries on campus — a combination of physical and virtual entities — and a staff of nearly 500 people.

Kathryn Boor, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, predicted that Kenney will be remembered as “the librarian responsible for unifying all libraries across the entire University.”

“She has boldly created collections for the University that are peerless,” Boor said.

Kenney explained that she first came to Cornell 30 years ago as a conservation liaison librarian, before becoming engrossed in digital imaging for archives.

“I spent a decade plus doing research in digital imaging for libraries and archives,” she said. “We established standards that were adopted around the world for capturing text-based materials. We wrote a couple of books on it, and we developed a series of workshops that attracted an international audience.”

These workshops transformed both Kenney and Cornell into internationally renowned figures in library science, according to Boor.

“Anne is recognized around the globe as a bold leader in library science,” Boor said. “She is frequently consulted by others regarding issues that shape the way academicians are able to access information.”

Kenney’s time at Cornell will be remembered not only for her research accomplishments, but also for the role she played as university librarian in transitioning the system to an age of new media.

Prof. Bruce Lewenstein, communications and science and technology studies, called Kenney a “relentlessly positive person.”

“I can’t think of a time that I haven’t seen Anne come into a meeting or situation saying, ‘How do we move this forward,’” Lewenstein said.

Lewenstein recounted working with Kenney for many years, whether it be through his own research and archiving projects or as a member and acting chair of the University Faculty Library Board.

“She’s leaving a very healthy library system, one that has dealt well with major financial constraints that affected most of her time as university librarian,” Lewenstein said. “She became librarian just as the financial crisis hit us. She had to manage in a really challenging time.”

As she approaches retirement, Kenney said she plans to travel in addition to enjoying her time in Ithaca.

“I also want to try my hand at writing murder mysteries,” Kenney said. “It’s always been at the back of my mind to do that. I published a lot in scholarly work, but never anything that was popular reading.”