Schafer to Step Down as Director of Libraries

Jay Schafer
Jay Schafer

Jay Schafer, director of Libraries, this week announced his plans to retire. He will continue to serve until his successor is hired.

In a broadcast email to the campus community, Provost Katherine S. Newman called Schafer “a remarkable colleague, a visionary who has led the library into the ‘information age,’ while never losing sight of all that he (and we) value about books you can hold in your hands.”

Newman said a search committee is being formed to hire a new director of Libraries, with a target date of summer or fall of 2016. Bruce Croft, interim dean of the College of Information and Computer Sciences, is chairing the search.

Schafer was named director of Libraries in May 2005 after serving as interim director since January 2004. Schafer came to campus in 2000, serving as coordinator of collection development. In July 2002, he was promoted to associate director for content acquisition and access where he oversaw collection development, gifts, acquisitions, circulation, reserves, electronic reserves, interlibrary loans and web development.

“When I stepped up to be interim director, I had no thought that it would become a permanent assignment lasting, now, almost 12 years,” said Schafer. “During that time, it has been my immense good fortune to have been associated with superlative library staff, collaborative campus colleagues and supportive university administrators. Together, we have worked diligently to build UMass Amherst Libraries into a world-class institution that is highly respected – in the Five Colleges and the Commonwealth, as well as regionally, nationally and even internationally.”

During his tenure as director, he combined his expertise in library collection building, resource sharing, and facilities space planning with a dedication to providing innovative, high quality service for library users.

Schafer has been “an exceptional force for the good,” said Newman. “This is largely because he places the library at the center of our campus priorities, to improve the academic experience of undergraduates and integrate information literacy into the general education requirements.”

His leadership has been marked by a number of other initiatives, including the Learning Commons, which opened in 2005 in the Du Bois Library to bring together library, technology and other campus services in an environment that fosters informal, collaborative and creative work and social interaction. 

The Libraries also launched its Open Education Initiative by investing $50,000 in small grants to faculty interested in moving away from commercial textbooks. Since its inception, the program has saved students more than $1 million.  

Under Schafer, the Libraries also created a wide-ranging assessment program that focuses on how library collections, services and facilities impact learning, teaching and research.

Understanding that the Libraries are the intellectual nexus of a research university, efforts have been focused on the creating a center for scholarship, both physical and virtual, that emphasizes collections, access, information discovery and collaboration.

Schafer also supported the establishment of an institutional digital repository, ScholarWorks@UMassAmherst, to provide a place for faculty, researchers and scholars to store, share and preserve their digital materials.

Building upon the activist legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives has continued to collect primary materials relating to individuals and groups devoted to advancing social causes and creating positive change politically, economically and spiritually.

The W.E.B. Du Bois Center was established in 2009 to make the writings of Du Bois and his contemporaries available and accessible to everyone throughout the world for application to the problems and issues of the 21st century, and to create new knowledge and support scholarship emanating from the African-American scholar and activist’s life and teachings.

Schafer’s tenure has also been marked by an emphasis on fundraising, which has been instrumental in supporting many projects including the Digital Media Lab, the MakerBot Innovation Center, the Science & Engineering Learning Commons, and the Music & Media Center. The Libraries have achieved more than $43 million of their $45 million goal for the UMass Rising capital campaign.

Schafer is currently a member of the board of trustees and treasurer of LYRASIS, a library consortium that provides services to more than 4,000 archives, libraries and museums in the U.S and 28 countries. In addition, he chaired the Five College Librarians Council, and served as president of the Boston Library Consortium and a member of the executive board of the Association of Research Libraries.

Schafer earned his B.A. from the University of Texas at El Paso and his M.A. in librarianship from the University of Denver. He has served in library administrative positions at a number of institutions including the University of Colorado at Denver and Bay Path University.