Sarah E. Thomas

Dr Sarah E. Thomas was Director of the Bodleian Libraries and Bodley’s Librarian from February 2007 until May 2013.

When Sarah was appointed Bodley’s Librarian in February 2007, she was the first woman and non-British citizen to hold the position of Bodley's Librarian in the Bodleian's 400-year history.

The Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, Professor Andrew Hamilton, said: 'Sarah Thomas has been an outstanding steward of the Bodleian Libraries, overseeing with vision, energy, and commitment a process of major change and innovation. With the assistance of an excellent team, she has brought about the construction of the new book storage facility at Swindon and the transfer of some nine million books, journals, maps, and other archival materials; an £80 million visionary transformation of the New Bodleian into the Weston Library due for completion next year; extensive digitisation of collections; and many other significant improvements in library provision for users inside and outside the University. She has worked tirelessly to protect and nourish the scholarly purpose of one of the world's greatest libraries while making it more accessible and sharing its riches more widely. For all of this and much more, we owe her a great debt of gratitude.'

Sarah graduated from Smith College in 1970, received a Master of Science in library science from Simmons College in 1973, and a Ph.D. in German literature in 1983. From 1996-2007 she was Cornell’s University Librarian. Previously she has worked at the Library of Congress, the National Agricultural Library, the Research Libraries Group, and Harvard’s Widener Library.

Sarah led in the establishment of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging at the Library of Congress, and has been active in scholarly communication initiatives. Under her direction the Cornell University Library was honoured with the ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries award in 2002. Thomas received the Melvil Dewey Award from the American Library Association in 2007. She has also served as the President of the Association of Research Libraries. In 2009 she was selected to the Simmons College Alumni Achievement Award. In 2010 Smith College awarded her the Smith Medal for exemplifying in her life and work the true purpose of a liberal arts education. Also in 2010, under her leadership, the Bodleian Libraries were awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for the excellence of their collections and their efforts, along with six other cultural heritage entities of the University of Oxford, in widening access to their historic collections.

Since May 2013, Sarah has worked as Vice President for Harvard University Library. As such she has been responsible for the operation of the largest university library system in the United Kingdom, and integral in the management of the oldest library system in the United States.

Sarah said of her time at Oxford, that it ‘has been extraordinarily full and very rewarding: serving as Bodley's Librarian has been both a delight and an exceptional privilege. I am grateful to my wonderfully talented colleagues within the Bodleian Libraries and beyond for their collegial support and friendship, and I am proud of all we have achieved together. It has been magical to be here in Oxford.' 

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