Virginia Steel Named Director of WSU Libraries

PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University has named Virginia Steel its new director of WSU Libraries. Steel, associate director for public services for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s libraries, will join WSU by Sept. 1.

Steel earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Rochester and a master’s degree from the University of Chicago.

Steel has been active in the American Library Association’s Library Administration and Management Division. She serves as a board member and chairs the committee on organization.

WSU Provost Ron Hopkins noted the new director’s experience. “She has broad and deep library and administrative experience at Arizona State, University of California, San Diego and now MIT. She was a strong candidate throughout the search process, which yielded a superior pool of candidates.”

Hopkins said following Steel’s interview, he received unanimous and enthusiastic endorsement of her candidacy for the directorship. “I am absolutely delighted to appoint someone of her qualifications, experience and interests. She will assure the dynamic leadership needed for the libraries to meet the challenges of the future.”

Graduate School Dean Karen DePauw, who chaired the search committee, called Steel “an energetic and enthusiastic person with an understanding of the future of libraries. She will provide the leadership necessary to enhance the position of the libraries as integral to the mission of Washington State University.”

Steel said she looks forward to taking on the challenge of leading the WSU Libraries into the future.

“The WSU Libraries have a long and impressive tradition of building research collections, acquiring electronic resources and providing services to meet the information needs of WSU faculty, students and staff,” the new director said. “During my interviews at WSU, I was greatly impressed to see how well the libraries are regarded by the campus community, and I was equally impressed by the high degree of professionalism and friendliness of the library faculty and staff.”

Steel said the WSU Libraries have three core roles that will persist for the foreseeable future: to provide a rich and deep range of information resources that contribute to teaching, learning, research and scholarship; to provide assistance in identifying, finding and using those resources; and to provide conveniently located, well-equipped and safe spaces for WSU community members.

Each role contains many challenges, the director said.

“With the changing nature of scholarly communication, we must have a campus-wide strategy to ensure that students and faculty have the information they need, and we must be sure that we preserve these resources for future generations of WSU faculty and students.

“As a research university, we must also be engaged in the development of new models for creating and sharing intellectual content,” Steel said. “The WSU Libraries are well positioned to lead discussion in the campus community on this key issue.”