Nichols Named Interim Librarian By Steve Libowitz Stephen G. Nichols, the James M. Beall Professor of French and Humanities, has been named interim director of the Milton S. Eisenhower Library, Provost Joseph Cooper announced. Dr. Nichols will serve until a director is selected to succeed Scott Bennett, who recently accepted the position of librarian at Yale University. Dr. Nichols will begin his duties on Oct. 1. "Steve Nichols is one of the university's most highly regarded faculty members," Dr. Cooper said. "Although he has never worked in library administration, he brings excellent administrative skills to his new position, and also a great appreciation of the library's central role in the university's academic life. We think he is the perfect candidate to lead the library through the challenging months ahead." The Eisenhower Library is the main research library of the Johns Hopkins University and the largest research library in Maryland. It has more than 2 million volumes, nearly 14,000 periodical subscriptions, and extensive holdings in audiovisual materials, maps, and manuscripts in the humanities, social sciences, engineering, and sciences, as well as a 135-person staff. The library has worked to maintain the strength of its collections and to keep pace with technological change. The provost said that Dr. Nichols' highest priority will be to manage the library's portion of the upcoming capital campaign, which will be publicly announced on Oct. 1. "I actually love fund raising," Dr. Nichols said. "I have been lucky enough to have done pretty well with it in the past, and I respond to it like an old war horse to a clarion call of the bugles." Besides the highly visible campaign effort, Dr. Nichols also will manage the library's daily activities, including the ongoing development of electronic resources such as the broad range of full-text databases available in the Electronic Text and Imaging Center. In a letter of introduction to the library staff, Dr. Nichols said that he hopes to make this year "something more than simply a 'holding action.'" "It can be a real opportunity to push forward with plans already under way, while also pushing towards an even greater integration of the different, but convergent, missions of the Homewood academic schools and divisions," Dr. Nichols said. "Scott Bennett worked hard to develop a solid foundation for the library's growth in the years ahead," Dr. Cooper said. "His contributions have been significant. Leaving the library at this time, Scott has made Dr. Nichols' job both easier and more challenging, because of what has been accomplished and what remains to be accomplished." Dr. Nichols said his years of scholarship in comparative literature have given him good experience in thinking simultaneously about diverse issues. But he never thought his skills would be put to use in this particular way, he said. "There I was, busily minding my own business, preparing for the coming semester, when the phone rang," Dr. Nichols said. "It was Joe Cooper, and I thought he was getting around to asking me if I would serve on the search committee for the new library director. But then the conversation started going in another direction, which led to his asking if I would be willing to serve as interim director. "While it was completely unexpected, it immediately sounded exciting. All my experience with the library had been super-positive," he said. "What has especially impressed me is the staff's aggressiveness in integrating technology with teaching and research. And the service has been terrific. I can be working in my office, call up bibliographic information from the library on my computer, e-mail a request for materials and have them delivered to my office in a day or so. That's a wonderful system." Dr. Nichols was appointed professor of the French Department in July 1992, having held teaching posts at UCLA, the University of Wisconsin, Dartmouth College and, most recently, the University of Pennsylvania. Throughout his academic career, Dr. Nichols has been known as a builder of departments and of bridges between disciplines. Within six months of his Hopkins appointment, Dr. Nichols was instrumental in the French government's selection of Johns Hopkins as a Center of Excellence in French Studies. The center engages undergraduates, graduates and faculty not only from the humanities and social sciences, but also from the sciences, such as mathematics, History of Science, Medicine and Technology and The Krieger Mind/Brain Institute. Dr. Nichols learned, coincidentally just last week, that the center has won a significant grant from a New York-based foundation. For the time being, Dr. Nichols will put aside his research to concentrate his energies full time on the library. "I intend to do some intense reading about library administration," Dr. Nichols said, "but my real initiation will come from meeting the excellent staff in each department. Faculty and librarians probably don't know a whole lot about each other, but I hope this is a good way to better integrate the needs of teaching and research with the resources of this fine library."
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