Virginia Steel, university librarian at UC Santa Cruz, has been appointed UCLA's University Librarian, effective July 15.
A library director for more than 11 years, Steel has significant leadership experience within the UC system and at Association of Research Libraries institutions. "She brings a wealth of knowledge, expertise and perspective to this critical role," wrote Scott Waugh, UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, in announcing her appointment today.
“I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to come to UCLA and to contribute to the library's role in supporting the campus's research, teaching, and service goals,” Steel said. “UCLA is one of the foremost educational institutions in the world, and its library supports every discipline, its students and faculty. Over its lifetime, the library has amassed rich and deep collections in numerous formats and languages, and it has established an impressive record of utilizing technology to build one of the best digital libraries in the world.”
Steel will succeed Gary Strong, who announced his retirement in March 2012. Strong has served as University Librarian at UCLA since 2003.
“The university librarian position at UCLA is the highlight of my career,” she said, “and I look forward to building relationships and helping steward the library in its role as an essential information provider for students and faculty.”
While at UC Santa Cruz, Steel oversaw a $100 million expansion and renovation of the largest library on campus. After the project was completed, library use more than doubled, and it continues to grow. She was also instrumental in bringing the Grateful Dead Archive to UC Santa Cruz, and she has served on a number of systemwide committees, including the UC Council of University Librarians, which she currently chairs.
Before taking her post at UC Santa Cruz, Steel served from 2001 to 2005 as director of libraries at Washington State University, where she oversaw the libraries on the Pullman campus and coordinated library services across the four WSU campuses. She has also served as associate director for public services at MIT (1997–2001) and in various positions at UC San Diego (1988–97) and Arizona State University (1981–87.)
While at UC San Diego, Steel was selected for a Council on Library Resources academic library management internship and spent a year at Brown University working closely with senior library and campus administrators.
Throughout her career, Steel, who holds a B.A. from the University of Rochester and an M.A. from the Graduate Library School at the University of Chicago, has focused on understanding the information needs of faculty, students and staff, and enhancing and building services and collections to meet those needs.
Her work at Santa Cruz and San Diego gave her the opportunity to work with UCLA faculty on a number of occasions. "I look forward to many more opportunities to collaborate with them so that the library remains a central part of their information universe," Steel said. "I have also collaborated with UCLA librarians and staff and have tremendous respect for their expertise and accomplishments," she said. "One of my earliest memories of UCLA is attending a meeting at the UC Southern Regional Library Facility just after its first phase opened.
"It was clear then and now that the UCLA Library has exceptional staff who are tremendously knowledgeable, deeply service-oriented, and keenly aware of the critical role the library plays in a world-class university," Steel said.