SU libraries : Obama nominates SU librarian to national board

President Barack Obama nominated Syracuse University Dean of Libraries Suzanne Thorin on March 12 to serve on the National Museum and Library Services Board.

The National Museum and Library Services Board is the advisory board for the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The institute helps advance innovation, learning and cultural and civic engagement in the country’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums through research, policy development and grants, according to the institute’s website.

The board consists of the institute’s director and deputy directors as well as 20 members of the general public who have experience with libraries or museums, according to the website.

Thorin is one of three individuals Obama nominated to serve a four-year term.

‘It’s an honor to be nominated by the president,’ Thorin said. ‘I think it’s a nice thing for SU. It’s a happy thing.’
Chancellor Nancy Cantor said Obama’s nomination of Thorin shows appreciation for the national significance of her work, according to a March 13 SU News release.

‘As libraries re-invent themselves as nerve centers of the information revolution, Suzanne continues to be recognized by her peers not only for the depth and breadth of her experience, but for her intellectual agility as an innovator,’ Cantor said in the release. ‘We’re thrilled for her and honored by this presidential recognition of one or our own.’
Before a candidate can be officially nominated, he or she must undergo an intense evaluation process.

Thorin knew that she might be nominated for about a year. The process includes an FBI background check, an application and financial reports, Thorin said.

‘They do everything they think is necessary so that you are not an embarrassment; you are a positive force for the president,’ she said.

Thorin will now go through the confirmation process. The U.S. Senate must approve her appointment, and although there will not be a hearing, there will be confirmation documents for senators to review, Thorin said.

The National Museum and Library Services Board holds meetings several times a year. The IMLS is primarily a granting organization that gives grants to libraries and museums, so the allocation of funds to the nation’s museums and libraries are frequently discussed. The board also talks about program changes, relevant issues and other topics on the chairperson’s agenda. The position is not paid, but members are reimbursed for their travel expenses, Thorin said.

Thorin said she believes her past experience has prepared her for this job. She worked at the Library of Congress for 16 years and was also dean of libraries at Indiana University. During her time at IU, she oversaw a house museum, giving her museum experience as well.

Thorin came to SU in October 2005 and is currently in charge of the university’s libraries, including the Special Collections Research Center, the Belfer Audio Archive, and SU Press. During her tenure, the SU Library has received almost $1.5 million in grants, according to the press release.

‘It all adds up to experience that will come to bear with the work of the board,’ Thorin said.
Charlotte Hess, associate dean for research, collections and scholarly communication, knows Thorin from her time at IU. She said she is happy about Thorin’s nomination.

‘I’m thrilled for her,’ she said. ‘I think she’s an excellent choice.’ 


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