Gerald R. Beasley, vice provost and chief librarian at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, has been named the next Carl A. Kroch University Librarian at Cornell University. The appointment, effective Aug. 1, was made by Provost Michael Kotlikoff and approved by the Executive Committee of the Cornell Board of Trustees.
“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,” said Kotlikoff. “He is a proven administrative leader and recognized scholar, who fosters collaborations across and outside the university. I look forward to welcoming him to Ithaca.”
As vice provost and chief librarian at the University of Alberta, Beasley oversees eight public service libraries on three campuses as well as the University Archives, Press, Bookstores, Museums and Collections Services, Copyright Office and Technology Training Centre. Beasley succeeds Anne R. Kenney, Cornell’s 11th university librarian, who stepped down April 1 after leading Cornell University Library since 2008.
At Cornell, the university librarian is the chief academic and administrative officer of the library system, overseeing a budget of approximately $64 million and more than 400 staff members. Housing more than 8 million volumes and a multitude of electronic resources, Cornell University Library comprises 18 constituent libraries located in Ithaca and New York City. The staff supports teaching, learning and research across the university’s colleges and schools, and serves scholars and alumni worldwide.
“Cornell has one of the world’s great research library systems” said Beasley. “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.”
Cornell Library is internationally known for its cutting-edge research in digitization and digital preservation, its leadership in technology development, its broad collaborations, and its stewardship of open access repositories. Its support of open access provides critical scholarship to developing countries and supports Cornell’s land-grant mission. In addition, the library’s many partnerships and initiatives foster leadership and excellence in the preservation, discovery, transmission and application of knowledge, creativity and critical thought at the university and around the globe.
“All libraries are striving to keep up with the rapidly changing expectations of students, faculty and staff,” Beasley said. “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.”
Before taking his current position, Beasley served as university librarian of Concordia University, Montreal, 2008 to 2013. He has also held leadership positions at the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University and the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal. He began his career in the United Kingdom at the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine.
Beasley holds a master’s degree in English language and literature from Pembroke College, Oxford University, and a master’s degree in library studies from University College, London. While at Oxford he was inspired by the university’s libraries, especially the Bodleian, which later on were led by former Cornell University Librarian Sarah Thomas, 2007-13.
“Yes, I love libraries,” Beasley 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.”
Beasley publishes and presents often, particularly on library leadership, open access and architectural books.
He will move to Ithaca with his wife, Tracy, and two sons.