Martin Halbert Named Dean of Libraries at the University of North Texas

Martin Halbert, Director for Digital Innovations at the Emory University Libraries, has been named Dean of Libraries at the University of North Texas Libraries. Halbert will also have a joint appointment as an associate professor in the UNT College of Information. UNT was recently named as one of the "Up-and-coming National Universities" by U.S. News & World Report in its "Best Colleges 2010" issue.

Halbert is widely known for his innovative work in the MetaScholar Initiative and, more recently, the MetaArchive Cooperative.

He has co-edited The Information Commons: A Field Guide, edited or co-edited several proceedings, and authored or coauthored a number of papers on digital library topics, including "Combined Searching of Web and OAI Digital Library Resources," "Digital Library Federation (DLF) Aquifer Project," "Findings from the Mellon Metadata Harvesting Initiative," "Integrating ETD Services into Campus Institutional Repository Infrastructures Using Fedora," "Lessons from the Information Commons Frontier," "An Initial Evaluation of Automated Organization for Digital Library Browsing," "The MetaArchive Cooperative: A Collaborative Approach to Distributed Digital Preservation," and "The Metascholar Initiative: AmericanSouth.Org and MetaArchive.Org."

He holds a Ph.D. from Emory University, where his dissertation was on "New Models for Research Libraries in the Digital Age" (excerpt). He also holds an M.L.I.S. from the University of Texas and a B.A. from Rice University.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

Halbert replaces Dr. B. Donald Grose, who retired from the dean position in July after serving 21 years with the UNT Libraries. Dr. Judith Forney, dean of UNT's School of Merchandising and Hospitality Management, will continue as interim dean of the libraries until Halbert arrives at UNT.

In his position with Emory University Libraries, Halbert has served as the principal investigator for digital library services and research projects totaling $6.1 million, including the Transatlantic Slave Trade Voyages and Origins projects, which offer comprehensive access to primary data from four centuries of the transatlantic slave trade. Halbert is also president of MetaArchive Cooperative, an international consortium of research libraries and institutes that preserve digital archives in partnership with the Library of Congress, as part of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program.

"Dr. Halbert's strengths lie in digital library services, innovative ideas, strategic planning and management of multiple libraries on one university campus," said Dr. Wendy K. Wilkins, UNT provost and vice president for academic affairs. "We are delighted that he also has a national reputation among funding agencies and leading digital and technological library organizations, and we look forward to welcoming him to UNT."

Halbert, a native of Houston, said the UNT Libraries' national reputation as a leader in digital projects and services attracted him to the university.

"Libraries are changing with the times, and UNT is at the forefront of that. I am looking forward to being part of the growth of the UNT Libraries, and I'm delighted to be part of the UNT community," he said. "I'm also happy to be returning to Texas, where I grew up."

At Emory, Halbert is an adjunct professor in the Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts, where he developed a doctoral certificate in digital scholarship and new media, an interdisciplinary credential that provides graduate students with expertise in new forms of research and publication using digital media.

He is also the principal investigator of the Librarians for the Digital Age Master of Library Science program for north Georgia, a partnership with UNT's College of Information and the Atlanta University Center, a consortium of four historically African-American colleges in the city.

In Librarians for the Digital Age, 60 students from north Georgia are earning master of library science degrees, with courses taught by UNT faculty members in four-day institutes and online. The students began the program in the fall of 2008 and are scheduled to graduate in September 2010.

"The students are excited about being part of a premiere program like the UNT College of Information," Halbert said. "The program is intended to provide a robust next generation of librarians from diverse backgrounds who will be well prepared for the evolving roles of information professionals in the digital age. It has exceeded all of our expectations and goals."

Before being named to his current position with Emory University Libraries in February 2007, Halbert was the libraries' director for digital programs and systems for 11 years. He was also head of networked systems for libraries and head of the Computing Resources Library at Rice University, taking a semester off from Rice in 1994 to work for the U.S. Information Agency in Tartu, Estonia as an American Library Association fellow, advising the national university library in automation planning.

Since 2001, Halbert has successfully applied for many grants for collaborative projects, receiving funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Historic Publications and Records Commission and National Science Foundation.

He has served the National Science Digital Library, the U.S. leading online library for education and research in science, technology and mathematics, as chair and vice chair of the policy committee, co-chair of the technology standing committee and a member of the planning committee. He was chair of both the Emerging Technologies Interest Group and the Digital Library Technologies Interest Group for the Library and Information Technology Association, a division of the American Library Association, and has served as a grant reviewer for the National Science Foundation and Institute of Museum and Library Services.