Gerald R. Beasley, vice provost and chief librarian at the University of Alberta, will become University Librarian at Cornell on Aug. 1.

University of Alberta

Gerald R. Beasley, vice provost and chief librarian at the University of Alberta, will become University Librarian at Cornell on Aug. 1.

May 2, 2017

Cornell Hires Head Librarian to Oversee University’s 18 Libraries

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Cornell appointed Gerald R. Beasley on Monday to be the 12th Carl A. Kroch University Librarian at Cornell University, where he will oversee a budget of about $64 million and a staff of more than 400 beginning on Aug. 1.

Beasley, who has served as vice provost and chief librarian at the University of Alberta since 2013, will be in charge of 18 libraries at the Ithaca and New York City campuses as chief academic and administrative officer of the library system.

Beasley, president of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries from 2013 to 2015, was nominated by Provost Michael Kotlikoff and the nomination was approved by the Executive Committee of the Cornell Board of Trustees, according to a press release in the Cornell Chronicle. It was not immediately clear when the Trustees approved the appointment.

“Gerald brings a deep understanding of the complexities and richness of academic life and the role of the library in a modern globally relevant research university,” Kotlikoff said in a statement. “He is a proven administrative leader and recognized scholar, who fosters collaborations across and outside the university.”

A spokesperson for the University of Alberta said he was not able to reach Beasley for an interview with The Sun on Monday.

“All libraries are striving to keep up with the rapidly changing expectations of students, faculty and staff,” Beasley said in the Cornell release. “The global impact of Cornell’s library system gives it a special responsibility to people who may never have the chance to visit its beautiful campus.”

Beasley held a leadership position at the Avery ARchitectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University and, from 2008 to 2013, was the university librarian of Concordia University in Montreal.

Beasley is particularly interested in open access to books and architecture and has published and lectured often on both topics.

“Yes, I love libraries,” he said. “But I also believe they are catalysts for positive social transformation. Great research libraries provide their users with a rich and rewarding experience, and their collections are an authentic foundation for new knowledge.”

Anne R. Kenney, Cornell’s 11th university librarian, stepped down on April 1 after holding the position for nine years and working at the Cornell Library in several roles since 1987.

Beasley received his master’s degree in English language and literature from Pembroke College, a constituent college of the University of Oxford, and his master’s degree in library studies from University College London.

It was the libraries at Oxford, particularly the Bodleian, that inspired his career path.

“Cornell has one of the world’s great research library systems” Beasley said. “It will be a privilege to serve as its next Kroch University Librarian, and I am very excited by the prospect of working with such an outstanding group of colleagues.”

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  • Reality Check

    Is anyone else noticing the percentage of external hires recently added to the Cornell leadership. VP’s of alumni relations, university relations, infrastructure and student life. A dean of students. An arts-college dean. Multiple investment managers. Now a libraries director. And there some open searches that seem to point in external directions. What does this suggest about Cornell’s leadership development processes?