Director, Smithsonian Libraries
Nancy E. Gwinn has been director of the Smithsonian Libraries since 1997. She oversees a network of 21 libraries and central services units and is a recognized leader in international librarianship, in developing digital libraries, in building cooperative programs and partnerships, and in promoting Smithsonian scholarship to external communities.
During her tenure, Gwinn has launched several new programs and activities, including the Libraries’ exhibition and outreach program, the digital Cultural Heritage Library, the Education Program and a Digital Imaging Center. She created the first Libraries Advisory Board and mounted an aggressive fund-raising program that has resulted, among other things, in over 30 endowments and a successful $11 million campaign.
Under Gwinn’s leadership, the Libraries initiated and became the lead partner in establishing the international Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) and the program’s secretariat. She served as chair of the BHL Members Council from 2011–2017 and member of the executive committee of a campaign project, the Encyclopedia of Life.
As the Smithsonian’s representative to the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), Gwinn has served the organization as chair of the Preservation of Library Materials Section, as a member of the IFLA Governing Board (2004–2009) and as chair of its Professional Committee (2007–2009). Currently, she is a consultant to IFLA’s Leadership Program and serves as chair of the Management and Marketing Section.
Gwinn led the Smithsonian’s open-access initiative and is the official representative to the Digital Public Library of America. She represents the Smithsonian as a member of the Association of Research Libraries, where she currently serves on the Member Engagement and Outreach Committee. She is a member of the American Library Association, the Cosmos Club and the Grolier Club in New York City.
Gwinn joined the Smithsonian in 1984 as the Libraries’ assistant director for collections management. Her career includes positions at the Library of Congress, the Council on Library Resources and the Research Libraries Group.
A former Fulbright scholar at the University of Oxford in England, Gwinn holds a doctorate in American civilization from George Washington University, a Master of Arts in library science from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wyoming. A frequent consultant and speaker, she has written on library-related and historical subjects. She received the Waldo Gifford Leland prize of the Society of American Archivists and the American Library Association’s Blackwell North American Scholarship Award for two of her publications. Her most recent work has focused on the history of international publication exchange programs and the joint history of the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress.
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