Carol Smith selected as next dean of KU Libraries

The University of Kansas has selected Carol E. Smith to be the dean of the KU Libraries. Smith currently serves as university librarian at Colorado School of Mines, an institution with a Carnegie classification of very high research activity. Her appointment as dean of KU Libraries is effective July 3.

“The feedback from our community members highlighted Carol’s visionary approach to ‘librarycrafting’ and her ability to understand and fulfill user needs,” said Barbara A. Bichelmeyer, provost and executive vice chancellor. “We welcome Carol to KU and our Jayhawk community.

“Carol takes over for Scott Hanrath and Beth Whittaker, who have served as the co-interim deans of KU Libraries for the last nine months. I greatly appreciate Scott and Beth for their willingness to step into the interim role, for their dedication and stewardship, and for their remarkable contributions to KU Libraries and our university communities,” Bichelmeyer said. “Please join me in offering them thanks for this important service. I look forward to working with them and the KU Libraries leadership team as we transform our academic research libraries to meet the changing needs of our faculty, students, staff and all in the Jayhawk community. I greatly appreciate all the time, effort and energy of the search committee. I especially want to thank co-chairs Chief Information Officer Mary Walsh and School of Engineering Dean Arvin Agah for their leadership of this thorough, professional and collaborative search process.”

KU Libraries’ mission is to transform lives by inspiring the discovery and creation of knowledge for the university and global community. KU Libraries strives to be a place of welcome, amplifying the diverse voices of the KU community. It also serves as a leader in the dissemination of knowledge, advancing innovative and substantial ways to collect, create and steward resources. KU Libraries partners in connecting and engaging communities, fostering student success and transformative research.

“I am incredibly excited to join the KU community,” Smith said. “I visited the campus several times over the years, including its many wonderful museums and libraries, always admiring it but never imagining that it would one day become my home. Libraries are community platforms for the entire campus and beyond.”

KU Libraries next dean, Carol SmithSmith’s guiding principle in her leadership over the seven years she spent at Mines was her dedication to libraries improving society by facilitating knowledge creation.

Smith comprehensively reorganized the Colorado School of Mines library and museum in direct support of strategic goals. She established the Scholars Hub, a center for scholarly communications and open initiatives, and created a new engagement librarian role responsible for student outreach and robust curricular and cocurricular programming, including book discussions, workshops and more. She recruited new leadership that turned a static campus museum into a top regional family attraction with a K-12 outreach program.

Smith sees the potential for similar impact at KU. She said she hoped to lead KU Libraries in the shift from university library as knowledge service provider to a broader, deeper role as fully integrated community partners within the larger academic and research ecosystem.

“Physical libraries matter more than ever in the digital age because people learn from each other through conversation, and libraries are spaces that bring people together in a spirit of shared learning,” Smith said. “The prospect of renovating the truly iconic Watson Library into a campus hub for dynamic knowledge exchange attracted me to this role and is a great opportunity for all Jayhawks.”

Librarianship was a midcareer change for Smith, who spent time in leadership positions in both the oil industry and information services profession until 2004. Before her current role, she served as library director at Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado. She previously served as a tenured associate professor of library services at the University of Central Missouri, where she served as the business librarian and technology initiatives librarian.

Smith’s department was awarded the Mines Diversity, Inclusion and Access progress award for Best in Shared Responsibility in 2021 and 2022. Her current areas of research interest include international comparative librarianship and academic library applications of the New Librarianship framework.

Smith holds a graduate certificate in geographic information systems from the University of Central Missouri as well as a master’s degree in information systems and a master’s degree in library and information science, both from Drexel University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and Arabic from Binghamton University.