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Lowell Takes Over as Berkeley's New University Librarian

by Kathleen Scalise, Public Affairs
posted October 21, 1998

Gerald Lowell, University LibrarianGerald Lowell, University Librarian and Associate Vice Chancellor -- Academic Information Technology at UC San Diego, will head Berkeley's library system as the campus's new University Librarian starting Dec. 1.

"Berkeley's library is recognized worldwide and the quality of its collections and operations is fundamental to our research and teaching mission," said Chancellor Berdahl. "We are delighted to have Jerry Lowell, a professional of the highest caliber, join us as our new University Librarian. He brings outstanding skills in librarianship, is on top of technological advances, and is a fabulous communicator."

Lowell comes to campus after five years with UC San Diego. Before that, he served as Associate University Librarian and Director for Technical Services at the Yale University Library from 1986 to 1993, and as Chief of Cataloging Distribution for the Washington, D.C., Library of Congress from 1984 to 1986.

"The UC Berkeley library and UC Berkeley itself are world-class institutions with premiere faculty, stellar students and highly competent staff," said Lowell on accepting the position. "The Berkeley library is facing a unique set of problems and challenges, and I am a problem-solver who has always been attracted to challenges. "I am intrigued with the soul-searching that has gone on at Berkeley regarding the future of the library," he said "and am delighted that the chancellor has placed a high, high priority on the library."

Lowell said Berkeley faces the hurdles that all research libraries must tackle these days, such as inflation and developing electronic collections. But in addition, he said, the library is recovering from large budget cuts assessed during California's recession in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

However, Berdahl recently announced $5.5 million in new library funding and the campus is building a larger library endowment, with a goal of $25 million for library collections.

The library collections include 8.5 million volumes as well as 3 million pictorial images and 50 million manuscripts.

Lowell helped launch the San Diego Library Circuit, a program to share resources among four San Diego area universities. Book requested by 10 a.m. any day of the week delivered by 3 p.m. the same day -- a remarkable turnaround time for university research libraries.

He was also instrumental in forming the Pacific Rim Digital Library Alliance of 13 libraries throughout the region to share resources via digital means.

"My mission is to make sure faculty and students get the information they need when they need it," said Lowell.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Carol Christ said, "The campus is fortunate to have someone of Jerry's caliber and experience assume the position of University Librarian at this critical time. He has extensive leadership experience in academic research libraries and a deep commitment to providing library collections and services that focus on the educational, research, and teaching needs of library patrons."

Lowell replaces former University Librarian Peter Lyman, who stepped down July 1 to return to teaching and research.

Lowell earned his M.A. in Librarianship at the University of Washington in 1977 and his B.A. in Russian Area Studies at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota in 1971.


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