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University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Posted: 06/27/2023
Dean of University Libraries

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) seeks exemplary candidates for the role of Dean of Libraries. Reporting directly to the Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer, the Dean provides intellectual, strategic, and visionary leadership for the University Libraries. With a strong foundation and implementation of a recent reorganization, the Libraries at UNL are poised for their next chapter of growth, innovation, partnership, and impact.

Just as the university is the intellectual center of the state, the University Libraries are the intellectual heart of the campus and enjoy widespread support from university administration, faculty, staff, and students. The Libraries are home to wide-ranging unique collections, including agriculture, Great Plains history and literature, quilts, and the largest collection of Willa Cather materials in the world. The Libraries co-sponsor the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, which has been building distinctive, open digital resources for nearly twenty years, with the College of Arts and Sciences. The Libraries are deeply embedded in the day-to-day life of students and serve as a welcoming space on campus offering a wide variety of student-friendly spaces, study rooms, computer labs, and cafes. Gate counts for the combined Libraries locations were close to 900,000 during the 2022-23 academic year.

The Libraries play an important role in the University of Nebraska System, nationally and globally. Its core mission is to fulfill the university’s land-grant commitments to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, and the people of Nebraska. It does so by teaching students to become critical information users and knowledge creators; through the creation, delivery, curation, and preservation of information resources; through collaborative partnerships in research and creative activities; by advocating for equitable access to information; and by creating diverse and inclusive learning environments.

The Libraries’ vibrant and engaged faculty and staff are deeply committed to their land-grant and research mission as thought leaders engaging with their communities and promoting access to its collections. Central to the campus and library is inclusive excellence. In every area, the Libraries are working to advance antiracism by breaking down systemic barriers, recruiting and retaining diverse faculty and staff, increasing critical literacies in teaching and research, updating metadata descriptive work, and redressing historical silences in collection development and through related archival activities. As defined by UNL, this commitment means that “we believe in fully embracing diversity in all forms seen and unseen, making inclusion a top priority, promoting equity across our policies and practices, and ultimately ensuring that excellence is inclusive.”

The Libraries host a wide array of events and activities that attract students, faculty, and community members year-round. In the past several years, the Libraries have invested significantly in upgrading the physical spaces in the building to make them welcoming and comfortable, and this investment has paid off in terms of increased use. Love Library is one of the busiest buildings on City Campus and its cupola is a symbol of the university.

Several building projects were recently completed, are underway, or are in planning stages: the renovated Dinsdale Family Learning Commons on East Campus opened at the beginning of 2021, the relocated architecture library was open for students in fall 2022, and plans are underway for the upcoming relocation of the music library. The extensive $22.5 million renovation of Dinsdale Family Learning Commons revitalized and completely changed the landscape of the university’s East Campus. The new space won an American Institute of Architects award for design excellence and experienced a surge in use upon its reopening.

University Libraries was pivotal in leading the University of Nebraska Consortium of Libraries through two of its largest collaborative projects: the migration to the new Ex Libris Alma/Primo system across all campuses and the successful negotiation to reduce costs by 13% of an extended subscription to Elsevier for all NU campuses.

Through involvement in the Big Ten Academic Alliance, University Libraries contributed to the negotiations in a landmark agreement that provides affordable access to research publications: the extension of the BTAA’s publishing agreement with Wiley, in which authors’ publishing costs are subsidized by the Libraries and open access to faculty publications is supported. The Libraries also contributed to the development of the BTAA BIG Collection, in which members manage their separate Libraries as a single, shared collection for Big Ten faculty and students.

The Nebraska Board of Regents recently approved an increase in the library credit hour fee to support access to collections. This increase was supported by students, faculty, and administration, demonstrating the broad and enthusiastic support the Libraries have at Nebraska.

Reporting directly to the Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer, the Dean of Libraries is a key member of the Executive Vice Chancellor’s leadership team, serving on the Deans’ Council. The Dean, as University Librarian, collaborates with faculty, students, staff, and external constituents on campus and in the state of Nebraska, across the nation, and around the world.

The Dean is supported by a seasoned administrative team of six direct reports and oversees 40 faculty librarians, 72 support staff, and 130 student employees and an annual budget of $16 million, including a collections budget of $8 million. This team is in the final stages of implementing a restructuring of the organization to better fulfill the strategic planning vision.

The Dean oversees all aspects of the Libraries’ work and acts as the official representative and advocate for the Libraries in the context of a comprehensive research intensive, R1-classified public land-grant university.

With the support of the University of Nebraska Foundation, the Dean of Libraries is an active ambassador for the university and the Libraries and creates opportunities for private donors to provide consequential financial support that furthers its mission.

The Dean will continue the transformation of the Libraries’ physical and virtual spaces, lead major content initiatives, and position the Libraries’ faculty and staff at the center of teaching and research for Nebraska.

The Role

The Dean is the chief administrative and academic officer of the University Libraries and is responsible for leading the Libraries’ current and future efforts to cultivate scholars, students, and members of the public who are astute, critical users and creators of information in all its forms.

The Dean serves as the University Libraries’ public voice, developing its reputation and expertise on national and international stages and within the profession. In addition, the Dean collaborates with Deans and Directors in the University of Nebraska Consortium of Libraries with an influence that reaches across 49,560 students throughout the five participating libraries in the University of Nebraska System. The Dean represents the University Libraries as a member of the Association of Research Libraries and a participant in the Big Ten Academic Alliance.

The Dean provides direction and leadership for locations across campus: Love Library, Adele Hall Learning Commons, Dinsdale Family Learning Commons, the Library Depository Retrieval Facility, and discipline libraries in architecture, engineering, geology, math, and music. The Dean of Libraries oversees the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities with the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Dean of Libraries is responsible for:


  • Working collaboratively with the Libraries faculty and staff to create and implement programmatic approaches in all aspects of the organization.
  • Enacting all aspects of the Dean of Libraries role with integrity.
  • Building a shared vision for the Libraries and connecting with the academic and research priorities of the campus and a commitment to supporting excellence in all areas of the university’s mission.
  • Building upon the 2020-2022 Libraries Strategic Plan.
  • Translating the vision into specific goals and demonstrable outcomes focused on advancing the university’s campus and college priorities.
  • Effectively communicating the vision to a variety of internal and external constituencies.
  • Fostering a user experience that promotes the highest quality service for student success, access, and retention.
  • Providing leadership in the University of Nebraska Consortium of Libraries (UNCL) in collaboration with the Deans and Directors of the other University of Nebraska System Libraries (University of Nebraska at Kearney, University of Nebraska at Omaha, University of Nebraska Medical Center, and the UNL Schmid Law Library).
  • Actively participating in the Big Ten Academic Alliance Library Directors Group and BTAA initiatives.

Administration and Management

The Dean works in a shared governance model to recruit and retain highly qualified faculty and staff and enact high expectations for performance.

  • Engaging in close collaboration with campus administrators and college deans as a member of the university’s senior academic leadership.
  • Collaborating with the Libraries Leadership Council and Libraries Faculty and Staff Executive Board.
  • Managing the resources of the Libraries effectively with a specific focus on advancing campus priorities.
  • Serving as the lead University Librarian and acting as the designated fiscal, contractual, and administrative agent on behalf of UNCL. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Dean of Libraries serves as the UNCL liaison to the Executive Vice President and Provost of the University of Nebraska System and has a 20% FTE dedicated as coordinator of UNCL.

Scholarship and Teaching

Successful leadership at UNL is a combination of identifying unrealized opportunities and making things happen. The Dean needs to be a skilled listener, synthesizer, and ambassador across the campus, the country, and around the world, to communicate the value of the Libraries to stakeholders and donors.

  • Setting high expectations for scholarly productivity and teaching excellence for the Libraries faculty.
  • Leading campus-wide excellence in scholarship and instruction.

External Relationships and Fundraising

The Dean will exhibit continued professional and personal dedication to:

  • Establishing beneficial relationships with alumni and external constituencies.
  • Stewardship of current and future funders.
  • Partnership with the University of Nebraska Foundation to attract external funding that supports the Libraries’ activities.
  • Responding to the needs of the Libraries and information science profession.
  • Fostering quality outreach activities and initiatives across the community and state.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access

The University Libraries support the University’s statement of action on its Journey Toward Anti-Racism and Racial Equity. Taking active steps towards inclusive excellence by deeply integrating diversity, equity, inclusion, and access in every day is of great importance by:

  • Encouraging respect for all persons in the Libraries.
  • Recruiting and retaining diverse faculty and staff toward building an inclusive culture.
  • Fostering diverse and inclusive curricula and programs that advance anti-racist and de-colonized descriptive practices.

Experiences and Professional Qualifications

UNL seeks a leader who can build a shared vision and collaborate with faculty, staff, and students to help them formulate, refine, and raise money for their vision and their goals for the future. The successful candidate should be able to serve as a thought leader for the campus, system, and external platforms on the role Libraries should play for the next twenty-five years of the 21st century within R1, public, land-grant institutions. The individual must be inspired to work in a collaborative and collegial environment while also serving as a fierce advocate for the unit. The next dean must demonstrate robust communication skills through setting clear expectations and clarity in messaging. Priority leadership characteristics include agility, approachability, courage, creativity, curiosity, empathy, and a balance of patience plus action for growth.

Successful dean candidates should demonstrate the following qualifications:

  • Ability to develop, enact and articulate a shared vision for the Libraries.
  • Success in leading diverse, interdisciplinary teams and/or organizations that indicates a management style that can energize a dynamic, complex academic unit.
  • Experience in supporting and cultivating an accomplished and diverse faculty and staff.
  • Demonstrated fluency in budgetary issues and financial acumen.
  • A record of program development, teaching, and leadership skills that allows for the advancement of the university’s ambitious goals for achieving excellence in undergraduate, graduate, and professional education, creative activity, scholarship and research, and public engagement.
  • A demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, access, and inclusion with indicators of progress.
  • Ability to collaborate effectively with a broad range of constituencies both across the university and with external audiences.
  • Ability to develop and communicate specific goals, strategic plans, and demonstrated outcomes for the Libraries that complement and contribute to campus and system-wide goals.
  • Excellent written and verbal skills that would allow for enhanced trust and transparency.
  • Capacity to build relationships for fundraising, public relations, and state, national, and international cooperative efforts.

Education and Faculty Rank

  • Proven record of distinguished librarianship, scholarly achievement, and professional accomplishments that would earn an appointment at the rank of tenured full professor.
  • A terminal degree appropriate for the role of Dean, such as MLS or doctorate.

Nominations and Procedure for Candidacy

Nominations and applications will be accepted until the position is filled and interested parties are encouraged to submit applications by September 5, 2023. Applications should include a statement of interest and a resume of professional and educational attainments. All nominations, applications, and inquiries should be submitted electronically in confidence via the Nomination Form or to:

Rosa Morris, Senior Client Partner, Rosa.Morris@KornFerry.com

Amber Galusha-Patel, Executive Recruiter, Amber.GalushaPatel@KornFerry.com

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive work and learning environment free from discrimination and harassment. UNL is dedicated to creating an environment where everyone feels valued, respected, and included. UNL complies with all local, state, and federal laws prohibiting discrimination, including Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

As an EO/AA employer, the University of Nebraska considers qualified applicants for employment without regard to race, color, ethnicity, national origin, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, marital status, and/or political affiliation. See https://www.unl.edu/equity/notice-nondiscrimination.