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Changes in Special Collections

Date: 
Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Librarian Jeffrey Marshall (left), English Professor Jenny Sisk (center) and Classics Professor John Franklin (right) examine a sixteenth-century manuscript.

Jeffrey Marshall (left), English professor Jenny Sisk (center) and Classics professor John Franklin (right) examine a sixteenth-century manuscript.

Last week Dean of the Libraries Bryn Geffert shared bittersweet news. After fifteen years as Director of the University Libraries’ Silver Special Collections and over thirty years of service to the University of Vermont, Library Professor Jeffrey Marshall will slowly transition to retirement. Jeff begins a well-deserved sabbatical this summer, to compile a detailed bibliography of our fifteenth-century books. In 2022, he will return as a librarian with responsibility for rare books, and then retire at the end of 2022.

During Jeff’s tenure as Director, the Silver Special Collections team launched the Center for Digital Initiatives, realized a longstanding dream of moving into the Billings Library, increased endowment funds, acquired outstanding book and manuscript collections, and strengthened its focus on collection-based instruction.

Jeff’s accomplishments as a librarian and scholar are significant. He’s has co-taught courses on the history of the book, including “Books and Readers in Europe, 1250-1550,” with Professor Charles Briggs, and “From Cuneiform to Kindles,” with Professor Angeline Chiu. Jeff has an extensive history of publications and presentations in the fields of archives, librarianship, rare books, and history. He has been a notable voice in the study of Vermont history: he is the author of The Inquest, a work of historical fiction based on actual nineteenth-century events at UVM’s medical school, and A War of the People: Vermont Civil War Letters.

Library Associate Professor Chris Burns will serve as Interim Director. Chris brings twenty years of experience in Silver Special Collections, where he has served as Manuscript Curator and University Archivist. In addition to his recent work as President of UVM’s Faculty Senate, he has also served as President of New England Archivists and chaired multiple Society of American Archivists committees, including the Manuscript Repositories section and Committee on Public Awareness. He is co-host of the podcast Archives in Context.

Jeff says, “I’m thrilled that Chris will be taking over and will allow us to continue making progress, with new ideas about where to take the department. My work in Special Collections has been a real education. I have learned something new in this job every day and continue to do so. I’ve had a fantastic team in Special Collections and have loved working with students and faculty members. I’m looking forward to returning to more teaching and collaboration in 2022!”