Yale Names New Director for Rare Book Library

Yale University President Richard C. Levin today announced the appointment of Barbara A. Shailor as the new director of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Since 1996, Shailor has been dean of Douglass College at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, where she is also professor of classics. Douglass College is the largest undergraduate women’s college in the United States. She has also taught at Bucknell University and served in senior administrative positions there. Shailor was born in New Haven and attended Hamden High School, Wilson College and the University of Cincinnati (Ph.D., 1975). She is a specialist in Latin manuscript studies, the transmission of classical texts in the Middle Ages and Renaissance and women in classical antiquity and the Middle Ages.

Shailor has long been associated with the Beinecke Library. From 1970 to 1995 she spent most of her summers and two sabbatical leaves in New Haven completing her magisterial three-volume “Catalogue of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.” In 1988 the library published her award-winning exhibition catalog, “The Medieval Book.” In 1989 she co-directed with Robert G. Babcock, the Edwin J. Beinecke Curator of Early Books and Manuscripts, an NEH Summer Seminar on paleography and codicology. Shailor is a member of the Comit international de pal ographie latine.

In announcing Shailor’s appointment, Levin described the special attraction for Shailor of the teaching functions of the Beinecke Library and her wish to extend still further the library’s central involvement in the academic life of Yale. “The Beinecke Library is one of Yale’s greatest jewels,” Levin said. “It houses truly remarkable collections in dozens of fields. Barbara Shailor brings to this great library a working knowledge of one of its great collections, distinguished scholarship, administrative creativity, a passion for the book and manuscripts and a deep and abiding commitment to teaching.”

Shailor will take up her work at the Beinecke Library in the summer of 2001. Until then, Patricia C. Willis is the acting director of the library. Willis is the Elizabeth Wakeman Dwight Curator of the Collection of American Literature. She succeeds Ralph Franklin, the director of the Beinecke Library for 18 years who retired in December 2000. Levin acknowledged the distinction of Franklin’s leadership of the library and expressed his gratitude to Willis for her service as acting director.

Since its opening in 1963, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library has assumed a leading role among the world’s major rare book and manuscript collections as a center for advanced research in the humanities. It is Yale’s principal repository for literary papers and for early manuscripts and rare books in the fields of literature, theology, history and the natural sciences. With collections ranging from ancient papyri to the avant garde, the Beinecke’s holdings cover a wide variety of authors and subjects, many of them in great depth. The library is especially renowned for its resources in the areas of incunables, pre-1600 Western manuscripts, British, American, and German literature, Western American history and modernism in art and literature. The library is open to the public, 8:30a.m.-5 p.m., weekdays and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturdays. A Gutenberg Bible -one of 12 in the world-and two volumes of John James Audubon’s life-sized “The Birds of America” are on permanent display on the mezzanine floor of the library, along with temporary exhibits from the Beinecke collections.

Arts & Humanities

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