Rice University has named Sara Lowman, former Director of Fondren Library and Interim Vice Provost and University Librarian, as Vice Provost and University Librarian.
As vice provost and university librarian, Lowman will be responsible for providing the overall leadership, strategy, policymaking and fundraising for Fondren Library and its related departments, including Woodson Research Center, Digital Library Initiative, Digital Media Center, Fondren Library Information Technology and Friends of Fondren Library. She will oversee a staff of 120.
"Sara brings deep knowledge, experience and insight of Fondren Library, of Rice and of Rice's extended community, as well as long managerial and leadership experience within Fondren," said Provost Eugene Levy. "These are all attributes that will help Sara, working with her colleagues, move the library and the university forward through the important evolutionary changes that libraries confront in the 21st century." . . .
"The primary role of a university library is to acquire and preserve information and make it available to its user community," said Lowman. "Although technology will change many of the ways that libraries function, this fundamental principle of acquisition, access and preservation remains." . . .
The Digital Library Initiative will play an increasingly important role at Fondren as Rice pursues the V2C goal of becoming a major research university. "We need to digitally preserve the research papers by our faculty and students so that they will be available to future generations," Lowman said. "This is challenging, due to rapidly changing formats." . . .
Lowman came to Rice in 1985 after receiving a master's degree with distinction in library and information science from the University of Iowa.
Starting out as a science reference/collection development librarian at Fondren, Lowman served as coordinator of collection development and online search services, interim co-director of reader services, head of reference, assistant university librarian for public services and associate university librarian before becoming director of Fondren Library in 2000. She has been interim university librarian since Chuck Henry left Rice this past March. . . .
Lowman, who also has a bachelor's in biology with a concentration in Russian studies from Carleton College, has been involved with a number of professional library associations, including serving as president of board of trustees of both the Houston Area Research Libraries and of Amigos Library Services, a library resources consortium. She was a coordinating council member for TexShare, the Texas library resource-sharing network, and served on the ZLOT Project Advisory Board, which focused on developing requirements and planning for a common search and retrieval interface application for the Library of Texas Project through the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
She has held a number of positions with the American Library Association, where she currently serves on the LAMA Building and Equipment Section Committee.
This year Lowman received the Shapiro Award, which recognizes Fondren Library staff members who have developed an innovative library service at Rice or have shown exemplary service to the university.
In addition to acknowledging her work on the recent renovation of Fondren and the library customer service survey, the award committee cited her contributions to the Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic project. Lowman provided a room in Fondren Library to the Graduate Student Association to store and use recording equipment that allows volunteers to read sections of textbooks for the benefit of people who are blind or have a reading disability like dyslexia. Lowman also helped organize and train the circulation staff to monitor access to the room, and she encouraged library staff to volunteer to read for the project.