May 27, 2022

John Wilkin Named Dean of Libraries and University Librarian at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Will Leave Exec Director Position at HathiTrust

UPDATE 4:15 PM: Wilkin Will Also Be Stepping Down as Executive Director Position of HathiTrust
Details at the bottom of this post. 

John Wilkin is moving to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to become Dean of Libraries and University Librarian.

Wilkin will arrive at the U of I from Ann Arbor where most recently he was Associate University Librarian for Publishing at the University of Michigan as well as Executive Director of HathiTrust.

He will begin his job on August 16th pending formal approval by the U. of I. Board of Trustees at its July 24 meeting in Chicago. 

Wilkin is replacing Paula Kaufman who will return teaching.

He was one of three finalists for the job.

Here’s the position announcement (PDF).

Wilkin held a number of jobs at the University of Michigan, including:

  • Interim Co-University Librarian 
  • Associate University Librarian for Library Information Technology and Technical and Access Services
  • Head, Digital Library Production Service
  • Head, Humanities Text Initiative
Wilkin also served as Systems Librarian for Information Services at the University of Virginia.

His complete and most impressive CV is available here.

Here’s a bit more from the UIUC announcement:

Illinois Provost Ilesanmi Adesida said Wilkin brings a broad skill set and valuable expertise to Illinois. “John began his academic career with a degree in literature, and he has been involved in the digital preservation of library collections since the mid-1990s,” Adesida said. “He has a proven track record of developing and implementing a clear vision for the library of the 21st century.”

Wilkin’s involvement in mass digitization as a means of preserving library books predates the well-known book-scanning project headed by Google. In 1997, Wilkin received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to digitize the “Middle English Dictionary” and make it accessible online. In 1999, he received an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant for the digitization of 7,500 19th-century monographs published in the U.S. This work poised Wilkin to lead HathiTrust when it began about a decade later. In his role as executive director, he successfully guided HathiTrust’s defense when the Authors Guild sued HathiTrust and a handful of its partner libraries. (The guild has filed an appeal.)

UPDATE: infoDOCKET has learned that John Wilkin will be also be leaving his position as the Executive Director of HathiTrust when he begins his new job at the University of Illinois in August. A search to find a new executive director is planned.  

Here is the full text of a statement by Wilkin (via HathiTrust):

Some five years ago, I was appointed as the founding Executive Director for HathiTrust, and the intervening years have been tremendous.  We have a long list of utterly extraordinary accomplishments, made possible by the partnership, by our governance, and by a very talented group of staff.  I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that we’ve changed the world.  We’ve helped libraries see what’s possible through deep collaboration, and ours is sure to be a model for other transformative efforts. I feel deeply honored to have played a role in all of this. 

Consequently, it is with mixed feelings that I share that I will be stepping down as Executive Director on August 16th as I begin my very exciting new responsibilities as the next Dean of Libraries at the University of Illinois.  I follow in the footsteps of one of the most outstanding library deans in the country (and one of HathiTrust’s first executive committee members), Paula Kaufman. 

My friends and collaborators on the HathiTrust Board of Governors are poised to facilitate a smooth transition.  A search will take place very soon, and I will continue to work with HathiTrust both to help bridge the gap and in my new capacity at Illinois. The strength of our collective individual commitments and the robustness of  the organization we have put in place will ensure a bright future for HathiTrust.  I want to thank everyone in the organization and at the partner institutions for all you’ve done to make HathiTrust great, and for the support you’ve given me over these years!

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.