The new Neilson Library will be more than a beautiful building on campus; it will also be a space that supports new ways to learn and share knowledge. Susan Fliss, Smith's dean of libraries, outlines some of the library features designed to meet current and future educational needs.
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Smith Names Susan Fliss Dean of Libraries
Susan Fliss—an accomplished librarian with more than two decades of leadership at Mount Holyoke, Dartmouth and Harvard—has been named dean of libraries for Smith College.
Fliss currently serves as associate university librarian for research, teaching and learning at Harvard Library and as director and librarian of the Monroe C. Gutman Library at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Her Smith appointment is effective September 1.
As dean of libraries at Smith, Fliss will lead a period of transformational change, as the college embarks on building the signature college library of the 21st century with renowned designer Maya Lin and the architecture firm Shepley Bulfinch. The intellectual heart of the campus, the Smith library hosts a rich learning and research ecosystem, welcoming varied modes of knowledge-making by an increasingly diverse community of users. Fliss will oversee a staff of 54 and ensure that the library is fully integrated with the college’s liberal arts mission.
Katherine Rowe, provost and dean of the faculty at Smith, praised Fliss’ experience and leadership.
“Susan Fliss emerged from a very competitive national search as the top candidate,” Rowe said. “There was great enthusiasm for her from all of the constituencies involved in the search—and she returns that enthusiasm for Smith. We are delighted that she is bringing her creative talents to Smith at such a propitious moment for the college.”
Fliss said, “I’m delighted and honored to be joining Smith College and the libraries in supporting women’s education. As an academic library leader, my goal is to create environments that encourage innovation and the piloting of new ideas in order to support community. I’m excited to do that at Smith—especially at a time when the college’s library is going through such an exciting period of change. Academic library spaces are quickly evolving in order to offer services that support student learning and research. I look forward to collaborating with faculty, staff and students on these efforts at Smith.”
Fliss joined the Harvard staff nine years ago as associate librarian of Harvard College for research, teaching and learning. From 2011 to 2013, she served as interim head of Harvard College Library, overseeing the libraries that support the Faculty of Arts and Sciences during a reorganization of Harvard’s libraries into a centralized model.
In her role as associate librarian of Harvard College, which she has held since 2007, Fliss oversees research, teaching, learning and access services, and also implements innovations supporting learning and scholarship. She works with students, faculty, program administrators and library staff to align library initiatives to the academic needs of the college. A highlight of her tenure was leading the development of a User Research Center within the library to focus library services on user needs.
Since 2013, Fliss also has served as director and librarian of Monroe C. Gutman Library at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she launched several initiatives to enhance the library’s role in supporting teaching, learning and research.
Prior to joining the staff at Harvard, Fliss served for five years as director of education and outreach at the Dartmouth College library. She also served for 12 years on the library staff at Mount Holyoke College.
Fliss is active in libraries on a national level. She served as a co-principal investigator on a Mellon-funded grant that explored applying the Centers of Excellence model to information services. She also has served on the Association of College and Research Libraries/Harvard Leadership Advisory Committee. She has been part of collaborations with HarvardX and other initiatives supporting online and hybrid teaching models.
Fliss holds an undergraduate degree in Canadian studies from Mount Holyoke College, and earned an M.A. degree in history from the University of Ottawa. Her M.L.S. is from the State University of New York, Albany, and she earned a Ph.D. in history from the University of Maine.
At Smith, Fliss succeeds Chris Loring, who retired on June 30, 2016, after 16 years as the college’s director of libraries.