Organization: Michigan State University

Location: East Lansing, MI

Express Interest

Michigan State University (MSU) seeks outstanding candidates for the role of University Librarian. Reporting directly to the Provost, the University Librarian serves as the administrative and academic head of the MSU Libraries. Working across the University, the University Librarian will be a thought partner and implementation colleague of the Deans and other members of the Provost’s office.

With a vibrant faculty and staff, including over 20 new faculty library positions created during the last 5 years, and a modern facility, including a Digital Scholarship Lab being completed in January 2018, the MSU Libraries are among the top 30 largest academic library systems in North America. A member of the Association of Research Libraries and part of the Big Ten Academic Alliance, the MSU Libraries are deeply committed to their land-grant and research university mission as leaders in engaging with their communities and in promoting access to their collections.

The primary responsibilities of the University Librarian are to:

  • Provide strategic, forward thinking leadership to effectively set priorities, manage resources and programs, and achieve institutional goals.
  • Collaborate creatively across campus and beyond to advance the Libraries’ mission and role as a thought partner, building alliances to support and enhance the evolving needs of researchers, educators, students, users, and innovators.
  • Oversee the Libraries’ budget and cultivate relationships with alumni, donors, and outside partners to support the Libraries’ fundraising and development efforts.
  • Promote the Libraries at campus, state, national, and international levels.
  • Direct the recruitment, development, and retention of a diverse and talented library staff, and create an inclusive and collaborative library environment.

About Michigan State University:

The nation’s pioneer land-grant university, Michigan State University, is one of the top research universities in the world. Home to nationally ranked and recognized academic, residential college, and service-learning programs, MSU is a diverse and thriving community of dedicated students and scholars, athletes and artists, scientists, and leaders.

Founded in 1855, MSU began as a bold experiment that democratized higher education and helped bring science and innovation into everyday life and served as the prototype for 69 land-grant institutions established under the Morrill Act of 1862. Today, MSU is located in East Lansing, three miles east of Michigan’s capitol in Lansing on a 5,200-acre campus. 2,100 acres are in existing or planned development with 545 buildings, including 103 with academic or instructional space. In keeping with being the first institution of higher learning in the United States to teach scientific agriculture, there are also approximately 19,600 acres throughout Michigan used for agricultural and natural resources research and education by MSU faculty, staff, and students.

With over 50,000 students from all but one of the 83 counties in Michigan, all 50 states in the United States, and 133 countries, MSU enrolls approximately 39,000 undergraduates, and just over 11,250 graduate and professional and students. Supporting and educating these students are approximately 5,540 faculty and academic staff and nearly 7,000 support staff employees.

There are seventeen degree-granting colleges at MSU: College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Residential College in Arts and Humanities, College of Arts and Letters, Eli Broad College of Business/Eli Broad Graduate School of Management, College of Communication Arts and Sciences, College of Education, College of Engineering, College of Human Medicine, James Madison College, College of Law, Lyman Briggs College, College of Music, College of Natural Science, College of Nursing, College of Osteopathic Medicine, College of Social Science, and the College of Veterinary Medicine.

MSU has an annual budget of approximately $1.3 billion, 21% of which comes from state appropriations. Classified as a highest research activity institution, MSU brought in $589 million in external research funding in 2015-16. In its growing research endeavors, MSU was selected in 2014 by the US Department of Energy to design and establish the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, a $730 million facility that will advance understanding of rare nuclear isotopes and the evolution of the cosmos.

The MSU Spartans compete in the NCAA Division I Big Ten Conference. With 25 varsity teams, in addition to adaptive sports, and many club and intramural teams, athletics is prominent feature of the MSU experience.

Michigan State University’s Mission and Strategic Vision

MSU’s shared strategic framework Bolder by Design launched in 2013 after a yearlong, institution-wide process. With the contexts of quality, inclusiveness, and connectivity, the imperatives that had been the focus of the previous strategic plan were refined. These imperatives are to:

  • ENHANCE THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE by expanding opportunities for where, when, and how students learn and increasing the value of an MSU degree.
  • ENRICH COMMUNITY, ECONOMIC, AND FAMILY LIFE through research, outreach, engagement, entrepreneurship, innovation, diversity, and inclusiveness.
  • EXPAND INTERNATIONAL REACH through academic, research and economic development initiatives, and strategic alliances.
  • INCREASE RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES by expanding funding to support high-impact scholarship and research.
  • STRENGTHEN STEWARDSHIP by nurturing the university’s financial assets, campus environment, infrastructure, and people.
  • ADVANCE THE CULTURE OF HIGH PERFORMANCE by elevating the quality and effectiveness of every product and process.

Recently, MSU launched an ambitious Student Success Initiative aimed at closing opportunity gaps for lower-income, first-generation, and underrepresented minority undergraduate student populations and increasing the six-year graduation rate. MSU has identified a set of key indicators to monitor and targets to aim for and is accomplishing this through University-wide and cross-functional changes, including: more proactive student advising and usage of student success analytics, accomplished through structural changes in advising as well as implementation of technology and data sharing necessary to support those efforts; changes to curriculum and instruction; University-wide engagement; and an accelerated process for review and refining processes within the new Neighborhood residential structure. In conjunction with this initiative has been the creation of the MSU Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology, which offers new ways to work, new physical spaces for collaboration, and a group of people who can help the campus design new ways to learn, develop assessments, and research the use of learning analytics, as well as explore uses of digital technologies that will impact any learning environment.

The University Librarian reports directly to Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, June Pierce Youatt. Before taking the helm as Provost in April 2014, Youatt served as Acting Provost and as Senior Associate Provost, assisting in all matters related to the oversight of academic policies, programs, and budget. Recent projects have included the creation of campus “Neighborhoods,” residential communities that provide innovative, integrated student support services designed to foster academic success, civic and social engagement, health and wellness, and intercultural development.

Youatt formerly served as Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean of Undergraduate Studies, providing leadership on undergraduate education programs and policy. Youatt is a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. She holds numerous awards for her teaching and outreach work. Youatt earned her degrees at Michigan State University.

For more information on Michigan State University, please visit

The Opportunity:

The Michigan State University Libraries today are the Main Library, which includes several internal branch libraries, the Gull Lake Library, and the Gast Business Library. The core mission of the MSU Libraries has been and continues to be to fulfill its land grant commitments to the people of Michigan, MSU undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff. It has grown from a 200-volume collection in 1855 to an institution that ranks within the top 30 largest ARL member institutions by the ARL Investment Index.

With 86 faculty librarians and 127 support staff, the MSU Libraries are home to wide-ranging unique collections, including world-renowned holdings in turfgrass, comic art, and Africana. The Russel B. Nye Popular Culture Collection and the American Radicalism collections are part of the extensive holdings in Special Collections, which is currently being relocated to modernized facilities. The recently-acquired Rovi Media Collection, one of the largest publicly-accessible collections of music and film in the world, coupled with the G. Robert Vincent Voice Library, one of the largest spoken word collections in the world, make the collections of the MSU Libraries particularly diverse in the depth and breadth of format and genre.

The MSU Libraries also serve as a welcoming and much-utilized undergraduate academic space in the center of campus. With over 3,000 available seats in the Main Library, and a wide-variety of student-friendly spaces, including group study rooms, computer labs, and a cafe, the Libraries are deeply embedded in the day-to-day life of the students of MSU. The Libraries host a wide array of events and activities that attract students, faculty and community members year-round. In the past several years, the Libraries have invested significantly in upgrading the physical spaces in the building to make them welcoming and comfortable, and this investment has paid off in terms of increased use.

An ambitious transformation has been underway at Michigan State University and leaders at the institution are setting their sights on being a global institution in service of the world, a “world grant university”. The MSU Libraries are integral to this endeavor, serving to support students, staff, and faculty with resources and training wherever they are, as well as to promote the campus’ work beyond state and domestic borders. Deans of the many academic units and many other members of the Provost’s Office are looking to the University Librarian for active collaboration to support and propel both curricular and research development on campus. A recent example of this is the Digital Scholarship Lab, which is a joint venture between the College of Arts and Letters and the MSU Libraries. The 10,000-square-foot space in the Main Library features a 360-degree immersive visualization room and is available to faculty to support their research and promote innovative instruction. Librarians and faculty partners across disciplines will promote a wide range of research endeavors through consultation, advising, workshops, and instruction sessions.

In addition to the broad role the University Librarian will take on campus, there are also the traditional and operational responsibilities of leading the MSU Libraries. With the assistance of a strong leadership team, the University Librarian directs the recruitment, development, and retention of the diverse and talented staff, and must have the ability to manage a highly complex organizational structure with skill and respect. Consultative leadership and empowerment on an individual level have been key to the success of the Libraries, and broadening this to interactions and collaborations on the campus level is crucial. The University Librarian leads the MSU Libraries’ Executive Committee, which is composed of the Associate Directors of: Collections; Digital Information and Systems; Human Resources, Text Management and Interlibrary Services; Public Services; Special Collections and Preservation; and Technical Services. Many of these senior librarians have held leadership roles within other departments in the MSU Libraries, making for a highly-informed and comprehensive approach to the administration of the organization.

Organization of the MSU Libraries:

The Collections Division supports the research and teaching needs of the MSU community by selecting, maintaining and providing information resources in diverse formats. Library staff in the division pursue this goal through collection management and selection of resources, active engagement with faculty about their needs, and interaction with library users in reference, classroom, and one-on-one settings. The Collections Division has taken a leadership role in questions of electronic resource accessibility at MSU and in the Big Ten, and the MSU Libraries has an ambitious 5-year accessibility plan regarding its digital collections. The Collections Division has also worked deeply and collaboratively with partners in the Big Ten and Michigan Academic Libraries to take advantage of collaborative pricing models, and to work with vendors on pricing and licensing models that are sustainable going forward. In the past ten years, substantial support from the Provost has increased the collections budget so that MSU is in the top third of Big Ten libraries for collections support.

The Digital Information & Systems Division serves as the administrative home to six units: The Gerald M. Kline Digital and Multimedia Center maintains a robust digitization and metadata creation program and provides in-house and online collections of multimedia and spoken word recordings; Web Services provides support in the design and function of the Library web presence; Data Services assists faculty, staff and students identify and access numeric data sets for secondary research analysis; Systems supports the infrastructure of the Library’s operation through maintenance and supervision of all computers; Digital Scholarship supports the stewardship of the Library’s digital assets through policy and tool development; and the Turfgrass Information Center maintains the most comprehensive publicly available collection of turfgrass educational materials in the world. A growing program area for the Division is collaboration with faculty through the creation and curation of digital content and services to enhance learning, teaching, and research.

The Interlibrary Services Division is incredibly robust from both a modern usage perspective and an ideological one. MSU Article Retrieval Service and interlibrary loan are easily accessible to faculty, staff, and students on campus as well as for distance users. MSU Libraries partners with the other 14 members of the Big Ten Academic Alliance as well as all public libraries in the state of Michigan to provide comprehensive access to resources not available at MSU. Article retrieval and chapter scanning services bring desktop delivery of materials in the collection to faculty and students wherever they are located. MSU materials are lent or scanned to libraries around the world.

The Text Management Division is made up of Hollander MakeCentral, which consists of an Espresso Book Machine, full-service copy center, a Passport Acceptance Facility, and a Makerspace. The Hollander MakeCentral: Makerspace is an alternative learning environment and gathering space that encourages cross-discipline collaboration, experimentation and learning. All students, staff, faculty and community members can use the space for maker projects and activities. In addition to 3D printing and scanning capabilities, the Makerspace is also home to a wide array of borrowable technology and programming starter kits for electronic development. This Division also includes the Course Materials Program, which works with colleges and faculty to create low-cost coursepacks for students, and is working with other campus groups on Open Educational Resource initiatives.

The Division of Public Services consists of Patron Services, Distance Learning Services, Teaching & Learning, Reference Services, Outreach and User Experience, and the Digital Scholarship Lab. The Gast Business Library also reports through Public Services. This includes the heavily-used Main Library Reference Desk as well as the Student Peer Research Assistants, who are located in the residential Neighborhoods. Distance Learning Services is a 24/7 helpline supporting off-campus and online members of the MSU community with the course management system and other applications. The Teaching & Learning unit is also central with its two-fold mission to foster student learning by supporting analytical thinking, integrated reasoning, and effective communication through effective use of information and to support the development of MSU librarians in the area of teaching and learning. The Teaching and Learning unit works actively with units and colleges on campus to integrate information literacy deeply and meaningfully into the curriculum.

With over forty staff the Technical Services Division works behind the scenes to order, purchase, catalog and process materials for the Libraries’ collection. This division is also responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the library catalog. Because of the efficiency and skill in this division, the backlog of print materials is very small for a collection of this size, and librarians work actively on innovative approaches to cataloging, including RDA and linked data.

The Special Collections and Preservation Division was formally established in 1962 with the charge to house special materials, as well as to build, preserve, and make accessible important research collections for educational use. Special Collections now holds over 450,000 printed works, numerous manuscript and archival collections, and an extensive collection of ephemera supporting research in popular culture, radicalism, comic art, and gender. Notable rare book collections include early veterinary medicine, eighteenth century British history and culture, modern American literature, cookery, and natural history. Special Collections has recently gained much more visibility in the Main Library with a newly renovated reading room, and seminar room and gallery space under construction. Plans are currently underway to move the collections to a more environmentally secure location, and recent extensive investments have vastly improved the conservation and care of the most delicate of the collections.

The University Librarian is also supported by a veteran administrative team, with expertise in budget, facilities, and operations. The University Librarian has responsibility for a budget of approximately $19 million, as well as a collections budget of $18 million. Current projects underway include: relocating and remodeling the Map Library space; adjustments to the Area Studies space; refreshing the seating space in the Library’s cafe; remodeling of newly-endowed study and faculty book lounges on the first floor; and extensive expansion and remodeling of remote storage facilities for collections. A massive project to review and relocate low-use collections (currently underway) will allow Special Collections to be relocated to a larger space and allow for more graceful and varied seating and study areas. Besides the recently created Digital Scholarship Lab, the Libraries have also added four new, innovative classroom spaces to allow librarians a variety of settings for instruction and interaction. These classrooms join the recently completed gaming labs as popular and innovative space updates.

With the support of the Director of Development, the University Librarian is an active ambassador for the University and the MSU Libraries, and has had tremendous success with individual donors for collections support. In the past twenty years, the Libraries have added more than 75 endowments, which have made possible many of the improvements undertaken recently.

Candidate Profile:

The ideal candidate will have demonstrated success in many of the following professional and personal competencies, experiences, and skills:

Creative Collaboration

The incoming University Librarian will have extensive experience working in collaborative, entrepreneurial environments and will possess a deep understanding of current trends and issues relevant to academic librarianship, including pedagogy and inquiry, digital libraries and library technologies, outcomes assessment, strategic planning, and advocacy.


The incoming University Librarian will have strong visionary, interpersonal, and decision-making skills to set priorities effectively, build trust, and manage resources (human, financial, materials, and space) to achieve the institution’s goals. Candidates should have previous responsibility for setting and managing budgets, and extensive experience of progressive responsibility, preferably within a large, service-oriented research library.

Ingenuity, Innovation, and Communication

Successful leadership at MSU is a combination of listening for the as-yet-unrealized opportunities and making things happen. As a large institution, there is an infinite number of ways to bring ideas, initiatives, and people together in effective and enriching combinations. The incoming University Librarian will be a skilled listener, synthesizer, and ambassador across the campus, the country, and around the world, communicating the value of the Libraries to stakeholders and donors.


The incoming University Librarian will have continued dedication in their professional and/or personal work to mission and to people. Ranging from a commitment to diversity and ensuring inclusive, safe, welcoming spaces, to developing and implementing strategic plans at previous institutions, demonstration of fundamental commitment is of great importance.

A Master’s Degree in Library Science from an ALA accredited program or other equivalent educational preparation and experience is required. A second advanced degree in a relevant field is preferred. A significant record of progressively responsible leadership and management experience in an academic library setting is strongly preferred.


Michigan State University has engaged Koya Leadership Partners to help in this hire. Please submit a compelling cover letter and CV here.

Michigan State University is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBT applicants.

About Koya Leadership Partners:

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with mission-driven organizations, institutions of higher education and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them. For more information, visit