Making the best of pandemic era conditions, the Rare Book & Manuscript Library’s (RBML) Sean Quimby announced via Zoom that he’ll be leaving the directorship at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library for a new post at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s accepted the role of Associate University Librarian for Special Collections and Director of the Jay I. Kislak Center.
Regarding Sean’s departure, Chris Cronin (Associate University Librarian for Collections) offered a warm and gratitude-filled summary of Sean’s time here in the RBML and Columbia University Libraries. His email to staff read, in part,
Sean has been an incredible asset to Columbia University since he joined the Libraries as Director of RBML in 2014.
Under his leadership, the Libraries pioneered work on digital preservation infrastructure and workflows, audio and moving image collections, and the accessibility of oral history materials with major grant projects from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Additionally, Sean led the completion of the multi-year project for the Selected Papers of John Jay, which will conclude after the 7th and final volume is published next year.
Sean’s leadership of collection development and management has enriched research, teaching, and learning at Columbia and beyond. Sean shaped collection development policies to focus on areas of strength while building a more diverse and inclusive record, demonstrated in part by such acquisitions as Arthur Mitchell, Lydia Davis, Yuri Kochiyama, Howard Cruse, and Tony Kushner during Sean’s tenure at Columbia.
With support of the Provost’s Advisory Committee on the Libraries, Sean also expanded archival staff in order to “unhide” collections, while implementing a sustainable model for processing collections and eliminating backlogs.
Throughout his years at Columbia, Sean has been highly successful in advancing the Libraries’ stewardship role over existing collections, developing robust digital collections for a global audience of researchers, and in addressing the technological and conceptual challenges posed by contemporary collecting.