February 18, 2018

University of Maryland’s Lowry Named ARL Executive Director

By Andrew Albanese

  • Goals include new strategic plan, search for successor
  • Current head Webster has 20-year tenure
  • Lowry has broad ARL experience

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Board of Directors has appointed Charles B. Lowry as the next executive director of the association, effective July 1. Since 1996, Lowry has been the dean of libraries at the University of Maryland (UM), a major library system serving over 35,000 students, faculty, and staff. Lowry’s appointment, however, is only for a limited, three year period. He will step down from his deanship at Maryland and take a leave of absence to lead ARL for the next three years. When his term concludes, he will return to a post in UM’s iSchool, where he holds a tenured professorship.

“My decision to offer only three years was fundamentally related to my desire to return to the College of Information Studies at UM to teach and conduct my research,” Lowry told LJ. “In addition, the ARL board and I are in strong agreement that my tenure will be shaped around two major tasks: refreshing the ARL strategic plan and supporting a national search for my successor,” Lowry added. He will succeedr the retiring Duane Webster, who began at ARL in 1970 and has led the organization since 1988. Webster will be honored at a reception at the 152nd ARL Membership Meeting, May 20-23, in Coral Gables, FL.

Lowry brings considerable library and administrative experience to the position. Within ARL, he has served on numerous committees, and he was elected by the membership to serve on the ARL Board of Directors for 2005 to 2008. His library positions prior to becoming dean at UM include director of libraries at the University of Texas at Arlington (1985-92) and at the University of South Alabama in Mobile (1980-85), and head librarian and director of learning resources at Elon College, NC (1978-80). He has also served on the boards of SOLINET and Amigos, OCLC advisory committees, and chaired state consortia.

Lowry said he was looking forward to taking the ARL helm at a time of “immense challenge for research libraries.” Indeed, he joins ARL just as publishers have launched a federal lawsuit against Georgia State University over e-reserve practices. Asked if he will engage the e-reserve issue while leading ARL, Lowry said that ARL has been “engaged with the issues surrounding copyright and fair use” for years and that he would “definitely engage these core issues as executive director.”

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