Sean Quimby Appointed Director of Columbia’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library


“We are thrilled to welcome Sean Quimby to Columbia as the new Director of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, where he will bring valuable experience and energy to leading the RBML’s talented team of curators, archivists, and staff,” said Damon Jaggars, Associate University Librarian for Collections and Services.  “Sean will continue and strengthen the RBML’s longstanding commitment to acquiring important rare and distinctive collections, as well as push us to better leverage primary resources in support of research and teaching.”

At Syracuse, Quimby led the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC), a repository of more than two thousand archival collections and nearly two hundred thousand rare books. Under his leadership, SCRC developed visiting scholars programs and an innovative series of public programs. He helped to raise more than one million dollars in gifts and grants from private foundations and public funding agencies, including the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). He also oversaw the Belfer Audio Archive, one of the nation's largest and most accomplished sound archives known for its comprehensive collection of cylinder recordings and for its pioneering work in the preservation of them. He began his career in libraries as a Manuscripts and Public Services Librarian with the Department of Special Collections at the Stanford University Libraries.

He holds a M.A in American History from the University of Delaware’s Hagley Fellows Program and a M.S. in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include primary source based digital scholarship, a topic that he explored at Syracuse as the principal investigator of the Marcel Breuer Digital Archive, and the history of pulp magazines, a form of early twentieth century popular literature that pushed boundaries of media format and literary taste.

“I am honored that Columbia University has appointed me Director of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library,” said Quimby. “No academic library is better positioned to collect and preserve recorded knowledge in the twenty-first century, and I look forward to helping Columbia students and faculty pose new questions to the primary source materials that we make available. I believe that there is a powerful feedback loop wherein those new questions help to shape the decisions that we make about what to collect and what to preserve.”  

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 13 million volumes, over 160,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff and hosts over 4.7 million visitors each year.  The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: