Head’s Up: The End of an Era

Dean Judith A. Sessions has announced her retirement at the end of December 2012, concluding a remarkable career of leading the Miami University Libraries for nearly 25 years.

When Dean Sessions arrived in Oxford in March of 1988, an enormous card catalog still stretched across the first floor of King Library. There was no such thing as OhioLINK. There was no such thing as a public internet. There were few computers in the Libraries, and the ones that existed were not accessible to students.

That all changed within a very short time, and since then the Miami University Libraries has kept in the vanguard of information technology developments, successfully meeting the needs of our increasingly tech-savvy students. Dean Sessions played a key role in the creation and evolution of OhioLINK, for decades a national and much-copied model for library regional cooperatives. She has overseen the renovation and/or creation of new space for every library on campus, always keeping the needs of students in the forefront. She successfully advocated for the Middletown campus as a location for the South West Ohio Regional Depository (SWORD), which we share with the University of Cincinnati, Wright State and Central State. Meanwhile, Miami’s local collections grew and evolved, first in print, more recently and significantly, online.

The Walter Havighurst Special Collections have also benefited from Dean Sessions’ attention during these years.

Dean Sessions has supported many important acquisitions during her tenure, such as the Native American Women Playwrights’ Archive, the Rodolfo Usigli Archive, the Cradle of Coaches Archive, and the Catherine de Saint-Rat Estate purchase. The Walter Havighurst Special Collections was one of the departments to benefit hugely from the renovation of the King Library third floor six years ago. And most recently she has supported the increase of staffing in both Special Collections and the University Archives, critical to supporting the growing use of primary resources in the undergraduate curriculum.

As we reflect on Dean Sessions’ years at Miami it reminds us how far we have come as a library system and the many challenges faced and overcome. Amidst the many distractions of our day to day bustle at the end of the semester, the multiple uncertainties of the future as we approach a new year, the demands on our time both at home and at work or in class, it’s good to take a few moments  for this reflection and to be reminded of the many achievements of the past 25 years. Sometimes we feel as though we are the first to face significant challenges and change, but the truth is, every generation faces these challenges, and every generation has the opportunity to decide how to meet them.

Through her dedicated service, Dean Judith Sessions has led the Miami University Libraries and the Walter Havighurst Special Collections into the 21st century. May our next 25 years be as useful and as honored.

Elizabeth Brice
Assistant Dean for Technical Services and
Head, Special Collections & Archives



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