UC Berkeley Library announces new director of The Bancroft Library, associate university librarian for special collections

The UC Berkeley Library today is announcing that Kate Donovan will be the new director of The Bancroft Library and associate university librarian for special collections.

Donovan joins Berkeley from Harvard University’s Houghton Library, where she serves as associate librarian for public services and curator of the Harry Elkins Widener Collection. Donovan has also held leadership positions in the prominent special collections libraries at Emory University and New York University.

“Kate is a demonstrated leader who will bring an innovative and committed vision to special collections at this great university,” said Jeff MacKie-Mason, UC Berkeley’s university librarian. “Kate has served as a champion for all library users, working throughout her career to make special collections more accessible to students, faculty, and the many diverse communities libraries serve.

“I welcome Kate as she joins us on our mission to help users find, evaluate, use, and create knowledge to better the world.”

Kate Donovan
Kate Donovan brings extensive experience with public services and special collections to her new role.

Donovan has been a curator and university archivist, and has specialized in public access, instruction, and reference, bringing deep experience with public services and collections to her role. She has two master’s degrees: in history (with a concentration in the American West) and in information.

Throughout her career, Donovan has worked to broaden access to special collections and to create more diverse, welcoming, and accessible library environments for students, faculty, the public, and library employees. At Harvard, Donovan played a leading role in a major renovation of Houghton Library, which created a more welcoming and accessible special collections library.

Donovan’s efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion include implementing improvements in staff recruiting and retention practices; redesigning public spaces and services to be more inclusive and welcoming; and leading exhibits that highlight issues in diversity and social justice, including a bold 2011 exhibit at Emory, Slavery at Emory: History and Legacies, that illuminated the university’s often troubled history.

“I’ve long admired The Bancroft Library’s stellar collections, and I’m delighted to join the University Library as Bancroft director and the inaugural associate university librarian for special collections,” Donovan said. “The Bancroft Library’s commitment to documenting the vast diversity of California and the West resonates deeply with me. I’m so excited to work together with library colleagues to continue building diverse collections and providing wide access to Berkeley’s world-class special collections, services, and programs.”

As director of The Bancroft Library, Donovan will hold primary responsibility for collection development, research and academic engagement, technical services, public access services, outreach, and fundraising. Bancroft is the primary special collections library at UC Berkeley, and one of the largest and most heavily used libraries of manuscripts, rare books, and unique materials in the United States. As the associate university librarian for special collections, Donovan will provide leadership in overseeing and stewarding the rare and archival materials in special collections at the UC Berkeley Library, which holds more than 13 million volumes in its world-renowned collections.