January 25, 2022

Sarah Thomas, Vice President of Harvard Library/University Librarian, Announces Retirement

From Harvard University:

Sarah E. Thomas will retire from her roles as vice president of the Harvard Library and University Librarian and as Roy E. Larsen Librarian of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the end of this year.

“It has been an immense privilege to have been shaped through the association with the world’s greatest library and to have been one in the series of men and women who have guided it forward,” she said in a letter to the Harvard community. “I am proud, first and foremost, of my library colleagues: innovative, deeply knowledgeable, and dedicated to service. They excel in creating and curating the collections so deeply valued by our users, and they now are building the network of distributed access to physical and digital resources around the globe.”


Thomas joined Harvard Library in 2013 as vice president and University librarian, maintaining overall responsibility for the library in close collaboration with the Library Board, the Faculty Advisory Council, and the Library Leadership Team. A month later, she was named the Roy E. Larsen Librarian of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences as the FAS libraries and the Harvard Library were joined under her leadership.


Before Harvard, Thomas was the first woman and the first non-British citizen in 400 years to hold the position of Bodley’s Librarian and director of the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford. She also served as pro-vice-chancellor and member of the faculty of modern languages. Under her guidance, the Bodleian Libraries were awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for their work to increase access to their collections.

Prior to her role at Oxford, she was the Carl A. Kroch University Librarian at Cornell for 11 years. She has also served as president of the Association of Research Libraries and helped lead the Program for Cooperative Cataloging at the Library of Congress, along with holding posts at the National Agricultural Library and the Research Libraries Group at Stanford University.

Thomas was awarded the Melvil Dewey Medal from the American Library Association and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

She began her library career at Harvard in 1970, filing cards into Widener’s official catalog.

“It was a wonderful privilege to commence my professional life at Harvard, in the aura of great libraries, great collections, and great librarians,” said Thomas. “The experience shaped my understanding of what a library could and should be. And, returning to Harvard five years ago, I was profoundly honored to be entrusted with the leadership of the Harvard Library as it navigated its transition to a 21st-century library within One Harvard.”

Read the Complete Article (approx. 1070 words)

See Also: Harvard Library VP Sarah Thomas Reflects on First Year at University, Looks Ahead to Upcoming Year in Note to Harvard Colleagues (August 9, 2014)

See Also: VIDEO: Harvard’s Sarah Thomas Delivers Inaugural Judith Nadler Vision Lecture “Future-Proofing the Research Library” (June 16, 2014)

See Also: Harvard Magazine Publishes Interview with the New Vice President for the Harvard University Library, Sarah Thomas (September 20, 2013)

See Also: Sarah Thomas of University of Oxford Appointed Vice President for the Harvard Library (May 20, 2013)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) 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 Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.