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Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, our University Librarian

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adapted from a June 12, 2015 story by UC Berkeley’s Public Affairs Office

Jeffrey MacKie-Mason — a scholar with expertise in human interaction with online information, economics and public policy, along with administrative experience in higher education — has been named UC Berkeley’s University Librarian and Chief Digital Scholarship Officer. He succeeds Tom Leonard, who retired after 15 years in the position.

MacKie-Mason comes to Berkeley from the University of Michigan, where he has served as dean of the School of Information since 2010.

“Academic libraries historically have been vital in advancing culture and science,” says MacKie-Mason. “Now, in this age of abundant information, the modern library is more important than ever in assisting students and faculty to take that information and convert it into knowledge and wisdom.”

Much of MacKie-Mason’s scholarly work “has concentrated on questions concerning digital libraries and electronic access to materials and journals,” Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Claude Steele wrote in his announcement of the appointment.

As a scholar and a dean, he has “considered the very issues now facing university libraries.”

In 2013 a faculty Commission on the Future of the UC Berkeley Library finalized a report to the campus administration, whose findings MacKie-Mason endorses. Among its key recommendations, he notes the following:

  • complete a major renovation of Moffitt Undergraduate Library
  • promote digital literacy
  • offer innovative data services
  • and support a more sustainable and open scholarly publishing ecosystem.

His top priorities also include securing resources for these initiatives and listening to learn what faculty, students and staff need and want from the library.

“Professor MacKie-Mason’s academic background is at the nexus of scholarly research, access and technology, which were identified by the Commission on the Future of the Library as critical areas of focus for the campus,” wrote Steele. “Chancellor Dirks and I anticipate that Professor MacKie-Mason will be the guiding voice for the campus on these issues.”

MacKie-Mason earned his Ph.D. in economics from MIT and a master’s in public policy from the University of Michigan. He currently holds joint faculty positions in information and computer science, economics and public policy at Michigan, where he started working as an assistant professor in 1986.

“I’ve spent my entire career at a public university,” says MacKie-Mason. “I’m passionate about public higher education. Berkeley is one of the very best public universities in the world, so it’s a great honor to be part of that community.”

Calling his new role “a dream job for me,” MacKie-Mason notes that he spent two sabbaticals in Berkeley. He has a sister living in the Bay Area; his wife, Berkeley grad Janet Netz, was born and raised in El Cerrito and has extended family in the area. They have two sons in their 20s.

“I used to spend more time in the woods and mountains than at a terminal,” MacKie-Mason has said on his personal website. “Now I find peace and freedom of emotional expression at the piano.” At present, he says, “I’m on a Schubert and Brahms binge.”

As University Librarian, MacKie-Mason will oversee UC Berkeley’s library system, which houses more than 11 million volumes in several dozen facilities across campus, and has a combined staff of some 325 employees.

MacKie-Mason will assume his new post in October 2015, and will be the 11th fulltime University Librarian.