Sarah is undertaking a systematic analysis of our special collections and area studies, working with staff to prepare a report and recommendations for a collections strategy that is agile, innovative, and global in focus. Together with the Associate Vice Provost for Collections and Scholarly Communications and the Director of the Jay I. Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Sarah is leading a team in a year-long initiative to develop a broad-based, modern strategy around special collections and area studies. As part of this initiative, the team assesses collection strengths, maps the alignment to current research and teaching emphasis at the University, and gathers information on use by the Penn community, external researchers and others. An objective is that scholarship on these collections will reflect the overlapping and intertwined nature of the Libraries’ holdings in rare books, manuscripts, photographs, and other formats with unique and distinctive acquisitions in areas such as the Middle East and Asia.
Most recently, Sarah was vice president and University Librarian at Harvard. Before Harvard, she was Bodley’s Librarian and director of the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford, where she also served as pro-vice-chancellor and member of the faculty of modern languages. Earlier, she was the Carl A. Kroch University Librarian at Cornell. In 2005 she organized the ground-breaking Janus Conference at Cornell, a tribute to the formidable contributions to collection development by thought leader Ross Atkinson, and in 2016, the Hazen Symposium at Harvard, celebrating the legacy of Dan Hazen, noted Latin Americanist and global studies expert to the fields of area studies and building collections of excellence in libraries.
Sarah serves on numerous boards, including membership on the OCLC Board of Trustees, the Board of the Natural History Museum (London), the Historic Deerfield Board, the Johns Hopkins University Sheridan Libraries Advisory Board, and as an advisor to the Helen Hamlyn Trust and the Voltaire Foundation. In the past she served as president of the Association of Research Libraries, and she created the Program for Cooperative Cataloging at the Library of Congress. She was awarded the Melvil Dewey Medal from the American Library Association, received the Simmons Medal as a distinguished alumna of Simmons College and the Smith Medal from Smith College. She holds a Ph.D. in German literature and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.