K. Matthew Dames appointed chief librarian of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Libraries

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K. Matthew Dames
K. Matthew Dames

K. Matthew Dames, university librarian at Boston University, has been appointed the Edward H. Arnold University Librarian at the University of Notre Dame by University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., effective Aug. 1. Dames succeeds Diane Parr Walker, who is retiring after serving 10 years as university librarian.

Dames has been integral in Boston University’s strategic planning process as chief librarian, chairing a faculty-led, provost-appointed committee charged with developing the library system’s 2030 priorities. Dames led the merger between Boston University’s library and the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, a special collections and archives unit. He also served as the center’s acting director after the merger. Dames launched the digital ventures unit to develop enterprise-level digital scholarship capacity, a move that resulted in a Boston University partnership with Boston Public Library to professionally digitize the papers of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

Prior to joining Boston University, Dames was associate librarian for scholarly resources and services at Georgetown University and interim dean of libraries and librarian for Syracuse University. In these roles, he helped develop a comprehensive digital preservation vision and strategy for Georgetown and established a fund at Syracuse to develop new library spaces and services.

“Matthew is a proven leader among the nation’s academic research libraries with a track record of driving innovative processes, technologies and settings that meet the current and emerging needs of students and faculty,” Father Jenkins said. “We welcome him to the Notre Dame community and look forward to the ways he will contribute to our distinctive mission and make the Hesburgh Libraries an even more valuable resource for the teaching, learning, research and collaboration of our scholars.”

Dames has cultivated strong relationships inside and outside of university environments throughout his career, implementing innovative programs to enhance staff development and successfully securing resources to advance key library initiatives.

He developed and sponsored the In House Leadership Development Program at Boston University. The program received a $100,000 Strategic Talent Development for Library Leadership grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The grant, for which Dames served as principal investigator, was the foundation’s first award for executive talent development in academic libraries. While at Georgetown University, he was integral in acquiring a $1.5 million gift of contemporary, award-winning first edition books, including Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God” and Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart.” In addition, Dames’ efforts at Syracuse resulted in the establishment of a scholarship fund to help high-performing library student employees defray the cost of education.

“Matthew is a catalyst, an innovator and an accomplished scholar. Hesburgh Libraries will greatly benefit from his ability to establish meaningful connections with external partners, academic colleagues and the teams he leads,” Marie Lynn Miranda, the Charles and Jill Fischer Provost at Notre Dame, said. “In each of his previous roles, he has inspired new ways of thinking and working that make libraries and universities greater contributors to scholarly production and to society. We are fortunate that Matthew will be bringing his talents and creativity to Notre Dame.”

Dames is nationally recognized as an expert in copyright law, holding a faculty appointment in Boston University’s School of Law. He has conducted research focused on copyright law, policy and history — emphasizing culture and norms of the media industries. Dames began his academic library career as founding director of Syracuse University’s Copyright and Information Policy Office, one of the nation’s first full-time university copyright offices. Syracuse’s copyright policy, which he authored, has been copied in full or in part by more than 20 other U.S. universities.

As the Edward H. Arnold University Librarian, Dames will lead a team of more than 175 faculty and staff members at the flagship Hesburgh Library — which houses the Navari Family Center for Digital Scholarship, the Medieval Institute Library, the University Archives, and Rare Books and Special Collections — and four specialty libraries located on the Notre Dame campus. The library system holds more than 3.5 million monograph and subscribes to more than 35,000 serials, all in support of learning, teaching and research.

Dames earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from City University of New York and a master’s degree in information studies and a doctoral degree in information science and technology from Syracuse University. He earned his juris doctorate from Northeastern University. Dames also serves as vice president and president-elect of the Association of Research Libraries, the nation’s leading association for research libraries in academia and government. He has served on the board of directors executive committee for the NERL Consortium of academic research libraries.

“I am delighted to join the Notre Dame community, particularly as a successor to Diane Parr Walker, who has led the Hesburgh Libraries with distinction for the past decade. I look forward to collaborating with students, faculty, leadership, Libraries staff, donors and alumni to ensure that the Hesburgh Libraries not only remain one of the campus’s most vital units, but ascend to greater national and global prominence,” Dames said.

Miranda commended the search committee that conducted a competitive national search, recommending Dames from a diverse pool of highly accomplished candidates. 

“I deeply appreciate the dedication and professionalism of the search committee members,” Miranda said. “They helped identify an extraordinary field of candidates and championed the needs of our students and faculty at every step in the process. I am grateful for their service and good work.”