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New library dean takes over

Credit: Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University Credit: Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University

Over the summer, students received an email from Provost and Executive Vice President Mark S. Kamlet announcing the appointment of Keith Webster as dean of libraries.

According to the email, Webster will hold the rank of principal librarian, and will receive a courtesy academic appointment at the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management.

Webster, whose appointment began on July 1, is succeeding Gloriana St. Clair.

St. Clair, who served as dean of libraries 1998–2013, has led projects such as the Universal Library and the Million Books Project, according to the Carnegie Mellon website. St. Clair is also a J.R.R. Tolkien scholar; she wrote her doctoral thesis on Tolkien’s use of Norse mythology in his books.

St. Clair’s time as dean of libraries was marked by an embrace of the ever-growing role of digitalization in today’s libraries. A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article on the subject calls St. Clair a “national leader in digitizing library material” and highlights her role in providing digital access to Carnegie Mellon academic papers and journals. According to Kamlet’s email, St. Clair has now transitioned to emeritus status.

Webster brings experience from several previous appointments at other universities.

Before being appointed dean of the libraries at Carnegie Mellon, Webster was vice president and director of academic relations and strategy for the global publishing company John Wiley & Sons. He was also dean of libraries and university librarian at the University of Queensland in Australia.

Kamlet wrote that the University of Queensland library is “one of the largest libraries in the southern hemisphere,” while the University of Queensland website calls its library, which comprises 15 branches, “the state’s [Queensland’s] largest research collection.”

Webster has also served as the university librarian at Victoria University in New Zealand and as head of information rights at HM Treasury in London.

Webster received his B.S. in library studies and computer science from Loughborough University in Leicestershire, U.K., and his master’s degree in management of libraries and information services from the graduate school of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. Webster is currently completing a master’s degree in international economics and finance at the University of Queensland.

Kamlet also described in his email Webster’s role as “principal investigator on significant government and foundation grants in Australia, England, and Scotland.” Webster’s projects include directing the creation of Text Queensland, described on its website as “a unique and dynamic collection of full-text, searchable, digitized sources on Queensland colonial and state history.”

Webster is on the board of directors of the National Information Standards Organization and was a trustee of the John Campbell Trust, according to Kamlet’s email.

Webster is also the chair of the deans and directors of the libraries of the Universitas 21 consortium, an organization of research universities self-described on its website as “the leading global network of research-intensive universities, working together to foster global citizenship and institutional innovation through research-inspired teaching and learning, student mobility, connecting our students and staff, and wider advocacy for internationalization.”

The search committee responsible for Webster’s appointment was chaired by Vice Provost Amy Burkert and comprised of nine other participants: administrators in the library system, faculty members from across the university, and Dietrich College Dean John Lehoczky.