20 May 2013
Dr Sarah Thomas, Bodley's Librarian, has been appointed Vice President for the Harvard Library, taking up the post this summer. The Harvard Library is the largest academic library system in the world, with more than 70 libraries and approximately 18 million volumes.
Dr Thomas was the first woman and the first non-British citizen to hold the position of Bodley's Librarian in the Bodleian's 400-year history. The Bodleian Libraries, which she has led for six years, have combined collections numbering more than 11 million printed items, in addition to 50,000 e-journals and vast quantities of materials in many other formats.
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.'
Dr Thomas said: 'I am excited to be returning to Harvard, where I got my start filing catalogue cards four decades ago. I know from long years of association with Harvard's libraries that the exceptionally dedicated staff and superb collections make them an enormously rich resource for scholars and students. It will be a rare privilege to work with colleagues there to develop a common vision for excellence and to create services that enable us to share these unparalleled resources effectively across the university and with the wider world. And after more than six years of transatlantic commuting, I will be able to unite my family in Massachusetts, where I grew up.
'My time at Oxford 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.'