Zhang named dean of Auburn University Libraries

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Following a national search, Auburn University has selected Shali Zhang, dean of libraries and professor at the University of Montana (UM), as its next dean of libraries, effective Feb. 19, 2019.

A noted administrator and leader in library sciences and information technology, Zhang will hold the appointment of Librarian IV. She succeeds Nancy Noe who was appointed as interim dean last spring following the retirement of Bonnie MacEwan.

“The Auburn University Libraries play a critical role in advancing the success of our students and faculty by fostering intellectual inquiry and enhancing scholarly research, creativity and innovation,” said Bill Hardgrave, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “Dr. Zhang brings a wealth of experience that will strengthen Auburn’s mission by advancing our library operations and promoting its stewardship.”

While at UM, Zhang successfully led the development and implementation of the libraries’ strategic plan that resulted in new programs and initiatives designed to support student innovation and increase the institution's research capacity. In addition to providing vision and leadership to the University Libraries, Zhang successfully coordinated various planning, renovation and facility upgrade projects.

Understanding the leadership role that university libraries play in increasing public access to information, Zhang worked with other academic and research libraries in 2016 to implement an integrated cloud-computing technology-based library system that provides public access to the holdings of 16 libraries in Montana through a single online search. Zhang also worked alongside other academic and community leaders to establish the Big Sky Country Digital Network, an online resource designed to provide access to the state’s digitized library and museum collections.

In her efforts to advance student and faculty engagement, Zhang led several initiatives to expand UM’s repository, including the development of ScholarWorks, an open-access online platform designed to showcase faculty published journal articles, graduate students’ electronic theses and dissertations and undergraduate students’ research projects to the worldwide audience. She led the UM Libraries with strong makerspaces, i.e., 3D printing, video and multimedia productions, and VRs that helped transform students’ learning experience.

“I am thrilled to be appointed as Auburn University’s next library dean,” said Zhang. “Auburn’s nationally-recognized commitment to academic excellence, positive work environment and student engagement present an exciting opportunity to lead the transformation of the Libraries by providing a clear vision and leadership to support the strategic initiatives and intellectual capital of the university.”

Prior to her tenure at UM, Zhang served as assistant dean for collections and technical services for the libraries at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro for seven years. During that time, Zhang also served as the project director and principal investigator for the Academic and Cultural Enrichment Scholars Program from 2008-2012, funded with over $1.8 million by the Institute of Museums and Library Services (IMLS)’s Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program. She has served as professor and head of the Technical Services Division at Wichita State University Libraries from 1999-2005, as the collection management librarian at the University of South Carolina at Spartanburg Library from 1997-1999, and as the head of technical services and coordinator for collection development at the Ohio Wesleyan University Libraries from 1995-1997.

Zhang holds a doctorate in education from Kansas State University, a master’s degree in library science from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and a bachelor of arts in literature and linguistics from Lanzhou University in China.

As dean, Zhang will be responsible for the leadership and administration of Auburn University Libraries, including oversight of three on-campus libraries, including the Ralph Brown Draughon Library, a 377,000 square-foot structure with seating for 4,850, and branch libraries located in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the College of Architecture, Design and Construction. The university’s collections include more than 3.6 million volumes, more than 2.7 million items in microform and 152,000 maps. The libraries license access to over 200 electronic databases, including online full-text access to over 5,000 scholarly journals and receive more than 57,000 current serials, including publications issued by the U.S. government. The Draughon Library contains the Learning and Study Commons and provides additional study spaces and circulation services in the attached Mell Classroom Building.

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