Johns Hopkins Gazette: September 12, 1994

Nichols Named Interim Librarian
By Steve Libowitz

Stephen G. Nichols, the James M. Beall Professor of French
and Humanities, has been named interim director of the Milton
S. Eisenhower Library, Provost Joseph Cooper announced. Dr.
Nichols will serve until a director is selected to succeed
Scott Bennett, who recently accepted the position of
librarian at Yale University. Dr. Nichols will begin his
duties on Oct. 1.
    "Steve Nichols is one of the university's most highly
regarded faculty members," Dr. Cooper said. "Although he has
never worked in library administration, he brings excellent
administrative skills to his new position, and also a great
appreciation of the library's central role in the
university's academic life. We think he is the perfect
candidate to lead the library through the challenging months
    The Eisenhower Library is the main research library of
the Johns Hopkins University and the largest research library
in Maryland. It has more than 2 million volumes, nearly
14,000 periodical subscriptions, and extensive holdings in
audiovisual materials, maps, and manuscripts in the
humanities, social sciences, engineering, and sciences, as
well as a 135-person staff.  The library has worked to
maintain the strength of its collections and to keep pace
with technological change.
    The provost said that Dr. Nichols' highest priority will
be to manage the library's portion of the upcoming capital
campaign, which will be publicly announced on Oct. 1.
    "I actually love fund raising," Dr. Nichols said. "I
have been lucky enough to have done pretty well with it in
the past, and I respond to it like an old war horse to a
clarion call of the bugles."
    Besides the highly visible campaign effort, Dr. Nichols
also will manage the library's daily activities, including
the ongoing development of electronic resources such as the
broad range of full-text databases available in the
Electronic Text and Imaging Center. 
    In a letter of introduction to the library staff, Dr.
Nichols said that he hopes to make this year "something more
than simply a 'holding action.'"
    "It can be a real opportunity to push forward with plans
already under way, while also pushing towards an even greater
integration of the different, but convergent, missions of the
Homewood academic schools and divisions," Dr. Nichols said.
    "Scott Bennett worked hard to develop a solid foundation
for the library's growth in the years ahead," Dr. Cooper
said. "His contributions have been significant. Leaving the
library at this time, Scott has made Dr. Nichols' job both
easier and more challenging, because of what has been
accomplished and what remains to be accomplished."
    Dr. Nichols said his years of scholarship in comparative
literature have given him good experience in thinking
simultaneously about diverse issues. But he never thought his
skills would be put to use in this particular way, he said.
    "There I was, busily minding my own business, preparing
for the coming semester, when the phone rang," Dr. Nichols
said. "It was Joe Cooper, and I thought he was getting around
to asking me if I would serve on the search committee for the
new library director. But then the conversation started going
in another direction, which led to his asking if I would be
willing to serve as interim director. 
    "While it was completely unexpected, it immediately
sounded exciting. All my experience with the library had been
super-positive," he said. "What has especially impressed me
is the staff's aggressiveness in integrating technology with
teaching and research. And the service has been terrific. I
can be working in my office, call up bibliographic
information from the library on my computer, e-mail a request
for materials and have them delivered to my office in a day
or so. That's a wonderful system."
     Dr. Nichols was appointed professor of the French
Department in July 1992, having held teaching posts at UCLA,
the University of Wisconsin, Dartmouth College and, most
recently, the University of Pennsylvania. Throughout his
academic career, Dr. Nichols has been known as a builder of
departments and of bridges between disciplines.
       Within six months of his Hopkins appointment, Dr.
Nichols was instrumental in the French government's selection
of Johns Hopkins as a Center of Excellence in French Studies.
The center engages undergraduates, graduates and faculty not
only from the humanities and social sciences, but also from
the sciences, such as mathematics, History of Science,
Medicine and Technology and The Krieger Mind/Brain Institute.
Dr. Nichols learned, coincidentally just last week, that the
center has won a significant grant from a New York-based
      For the time being, Dr. Nichols will put aside his
research to concentrate his energies full time on the
    "I intend to do some intense reading about library
administration," Dr. Nichols said, "but my real initiation
will come from meeting the excellent staff in each
department. Faculty and librarians probably don't know a
whole lot about each other, but I hope this is a good way to
better integrate the needs of teaching and research with the
resources of this fine library."

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