Digital expert hired as University librarian

A digital scholarship expert from Rice University will take over as GW’s top librarian, the University announced Monday.

Geneva Henry, the executive director of digital scholarship services at Rice University, will take over as GW’s top librarian this summer. Photo courtesy of the Office of Media Relations

Geneva Henry will steer the University’s library system, which includes Gelman, Eckles and Virginia Science and Technology libraries, after spending more than a decade at the Houston university, where she headed the university’s digital library collections for three years.  She will assume the University librarian role July 1.

“When I read the university’s strategic plan, it told me that GW is a place on the move that really ‘gets it’ when it comes to information,” Henry said in a release. “The library is at the heart of where the university is trying to go with new knowledge and information, and has the potential to be a key strategic partner in helping the university realize that very bold strategic plan.”

Provost Steven Lerman cited Henry’s “knowledge of digital information systems” and her knowledge of “traditional library services” as key to her selection.

Henry will take the reins of the University’s library system as Gelman undergoes $16 million in renovations, and increases its digital focus. The library will increase the amount of study space and make room for archives dedicated to Winston Churchill, the former British prime minister by 2014.

The announcement comes two months after top librarians from the University of Virginia and Columbia University called Gelman Library a subpar research library, lacking staff and resources, according to a Faculty Senate report.

 Henry will assume her role about a year after longtime head librarian Jack Siggins stepped down from the post  17 years at GW. Andrea Stewart has served as interim University librarian this year.

Henry beat out three other top contenders hailing from the universities of Miami, North Texas and Pennsylvania State University, who also visited in February and made presentations to library staff in town hall settings.

She said in a release that she will look to raise Gelman’s stature on campus by reaching out across the University.

“I want people to know I’m huge on collaboration. I’m really looking forward to building partnerships across campus,” she said. “Many people think a library is only a great place to study, but they may not realize there are some incredible services available.”


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