Elisabeth Long, a collaborative leader and a practiced book artist who has spent nearly 30 years in progressively responsible roles with the University of Chicago Library, has been appointed the next Sheridan Dean of University Libraries, Archives, and Museums at Johns Hopkins University. She will assume the position on Jan. 3, 2023.
Long, who since 2016 has served as associate university librarian for information technology and digital scholarship at UChicago, succeeds Winston Tabb, who has led JHU's Sheridan Libraries since September 2002. In December 2021, Tabb announced plans to retire but said he would remain in the role until a new dean was in place to ensure a smooth transition.
"We launched a search for his successor this spring and charged the search committee with identifying exceptional candidates who could build on the success of our libraries and museums and help to set the vision for what the modern academic library should be at Johns Hopkins," President Ron Daniels and Provost Sunil Kumar wrote in a message to the Hopkins community today. "Following a comprehensive national search, we have selected a candidate with extensive and varied experience in libraries who brings energy and a deep understanding of the research enterprise to this important position."
Long presently oversees digital scholarship services for students and faculty at UChicago and is responsible for the library's IT infrastructure that supports the preservation of digital archives, books, and data. In addition to her primary role, she also served as interim library director and university librarian within the past year, leading the university's library system and a staff of roughly 200 people. She is a member of the senior leadership team at the University of Chicago Library and provides budget planning, assessment, and leadership in driving strategic priorities.
Throughout her life, Long has cultivated a passion for the physical book, and she continues to practice book artistry, letterpress printing, and papermaking in her spare time. She said she recently purchased several historical pigments and inks on a trip to London, and she owns multiple printing presses—including one that weighs in excess of 1,500 pounds and currently resides in her studio at the Bridgeport Art Center on Chicago's South Side. Long said she is looking forward to consolidating her printing studio into her home when she moves to Baltimore.
Long also possesses a broad and diverse set of technological skills, along with an interest in special collections and in facilitating open and accessible scholarship. Among the things that attracted her to Hopkins, she said, is the university's demonstrated commitment to open access and to "changing how scholarship is shared not just within the academy but also among the wider community."
Long has experience working with scholars from a broad spectrum of disciplines to apply digital technologies to the creation and preservation of research.
"I'm incredibly excited to be able to come work at an institution with such a strong focus on research and teaching," Long said. "Hopkins faculty and students are engaged in groundbreaking work, and for me, the best part of being a librarian is being able to interact with all the remarkable people that are part of an institution like Johns Hopkins."
Long is also committed to growing partnerships between the university's libraries, archives, and museums, and local communities in Baltimore and Washington. Her current portfolio includes the Black Metropolis Research Consortium, a collaboration of regional institutions hosted by the University of Chicago that promotes the acquisition, processing, and use of archival collections documenting Black history and culture in Chicago.
"There is so much rich history in the Baltimore and Washington area," Long said. "I'm eager to apply my energy and experience to advancing existing partnerships and discovering opportunities for new ones."
Long has ties to the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan area dating to her childhood—she moved to Baltimore when she was 9 years old, attended The Bryn Mawr School, and completed her undergraduate studies at St. John's College in Annapolis. She went on to earn a Master of Library Science from the University of Maryland with a focus on historical research, archives, and rare books, and later a Master of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts from Columbia College in Chicago.
Long was accepted in 2018 into the prestigious Association of Research Libraries Leadership Fellows program, which develops the next generation of senior library and archive leaders.
"I am delighted that Elisabeth will be coming home to Baltimore to serve as the next dean of our libraries and museums," Tabb said. "Elisabeth has already worked with many of us in the Johns Hopkins Libraries in a variety of settings, most particularly in the Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation. I am confident that her collaborative approach, deep experience, energy, and proven leadership will go far to ensure that Hopkins continues to have at its center the world-class libraries I've been privileged to lead these past 20 years."
Long's appointment was informed by a search committee led by Chris Celenza, dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. Daniels and Kumar thanked the members of the committee for their work throughout the process.
"We are confident that Elisabeth's experience, her breadth of expertise, and her commitment to excellence will serve the university well in the years ahead," Daniels and Kumar wrote. "Please join me in welcoming Elisabeth to Johns Hopkins."