When she retires from her post as the Roy E. Larsen Librarian of Harvard College next month, efforts to sum up the career of Nancy Cline will invariably point to the massive, multi-year renovation of Widener Library as one of her greatest accomplishments. Such efforts, however, only scratch the surface of a career that has spanned dramatic change for Harvard’s libraries. In her 15-year tenure, Cline changed not just the physical appearance of the libraries, but the very nature of how patrons – whether students, faculty or researchers – interact with them.
An early advocate for bringing the digital world inside the walls of the library, Cline helped innovate new methods of preservation through digitization and pioneered new ways of delivering library materials to users all over the world, all while continuing to deliver service to Harvard students and faculty, and the wider academic community.
“If we think about the time Nancy Cline has been at Harvard, and what we thought libraries were when she arrived, and what we now understand libraries to be – it’s nothing short of a complete revolution,” said Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust. “Nancy has been in the forefront of that change, has enabled Harvard’s libraries to sustain a leadership role in that change, and to adapt and grow in extraordinarily transformative times.
“What Harvard is, in no small part, is what its libraries are,” Faust continued. “This University is deeply dependent on its libraries, and Nancy has served on many national and international boards and committees, helping not just Harvard, but the wider world, to understand what has happened, and what is going to happen in the world of libraries. She has been a force in our digitization efforts, and in many of the other ways we have seized the future.”