The Center for Research Libraries is an international consortium of university, college, and independent research libraries. The next President will lead CRL by driving and advancing the mission, strategy, and goals of the organization forward. The successful candidate will inspire and engage members, employees, and the board in shaping the future of CRL.
The Center for Research Libraries (CRL) seeks a strategic, entrepreneurial, and dynamic leader who will guide and champion CRL in fulfilling its mission to support advanced research and teaching in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences by ensuring the survival and availability of primary source and less commonly-held scholarly materials.
The evolving information environment underscores the importance of collective action: institutions sharing the burden of change and using their collective strengths and intelligence to craft workable responses.
The next CRL President will provide vision and leadership for the development of collective action among its members and with other institutions and consortia to preserve endangered and difficult-to-acquire materials, develop robust shared collection preservation strategies, and expand the corpus of digitized research material. The leader will create strategies to expand membership and diversify revenue streams.
S/He will be a transformative leader who can articulate CRL’s value, build consensus and collaboration with members and external constituents, and work effectively with the CRL Board to provide effective oversight of CRL finances and all aspects of its operations. Over the past decade, with funding from the Mellon and MacArthur Foundations, NEH, NSF, and others, CRL has shaped the ways US and Canadian libraries manage their print collections, develop shared digital collections, and invest in digital resources and services. The new President will have the opportunity to be the architect of the next phase of CRL’s continuing evolution, its eighth decade of existence.
Organization's Mission and Overview
The Center for Research Libraries is an international consortium of more than 200 university, college, and independent research libraries. Founded in 1949, CRL has brought together specialists and experts from major research institutions in the U.S. and Canada to shape its deep and diverse collections. As part of CRL’s collection and preservation programs, they have identified, gathered, and preserved unique and uncommon documentation and evidence, to ensure its long-term integrity and accessibility. CRL is the world’s largest and most enduring cooperative collection development enterprise and, as the home of NERL, now represents more major research libraries in the market for electronic resources than any other organization.
At its core CRL is a community of libraries committed to the long-term integrity and accessibility of information.
The Center for Research Libraries has a building that contains approximately five million newspapers, journals, books, pamphlets, archives, dissertations, government documents, and other resources in Chicago. CRL also provides access to a continually expanding body of digital materials. It is a member of the Association of Research Libraries and is governed by a Board of Directors.
In March 1949, ten major U.S. universities entered into a formal agreement establishing the Midwest Inter-Library Corporation (MILC), the forerunner of today’s Center for Research Libraries.
The purposes of the Center, as stated in its articles of incorporation, were:
“To establish and maintain an educational, literary, scientific, charitable and research interlibrary center; to provide and promote cooperative, auxiliary services for one or more non-profit educational, charitable and scientific institutions; to establish, conduct and maintain a place or places for the deposit, storage, care, delivery and exchange of books ... and other articles containing written, printed, or recorded matter.”
Initially the Center’s chief activity was accepting and processing deposits of monographs, journals, and other materials that were transferred to it by member universities. The present collection of more than 5 million items originated with deposits of research materials from the founding members, which were supplemented over the decades to maintain the strengths of the original collection areas. In addition to accepting deposits, the Center also began to subscribe to U.S. and foreign newspaper titles that weren’t being acquired by its members, thus establishing a collection that is one of its enduring strengths.
During the early 1960s, the Midwest Inter-Library Center’s focus changed from a regional, Midwestern organization to one of national scope. Under director Gordon Williams’ leadership, the Center became the locus of efforts begun by national organizations, such as the Foreign Newspapers (microfilming) Project of the Association of Research Libraries, and the National Science Foundation’s Scientific Journals Center. The Center then opened its membership to universities outside the Midwest. By 1971 its membership had grown from the original ten to 66 universities.
Today CRL is a consortium that numbers more than 200 members. These are chiefly U.S. and Canadian universities and colleges that emphasize original research in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Members range from private universities including Harvard and Stanford, state universities including the University of Illinois and University of British Columbia, and four-year liberal arts colleges including Oberlin and Colorado College. The Center also offers Global Membership, including the University of Hong Kong.
Organization's Governance Model
CRL is an independent not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. CRL is governed by its member organizations in accordance with its bylaws. The Board of Directors consists of fifteen elected directors and one ex officio director serving 3 year terms. Designated representatives of member organizations comprise the CRL Council of Voting Members, which meets annually to elect the Board of Directors, approve CRL’s proposed budget, and vote on proposed changes to the bylaws. Member representatives can also nominate and decide on major CRL acquisitions.
The President is responsible for providing visionary leadership to the organization in support of CRL’s mission and members. The President oversees strategic planning, operational management, and works closely with the Board to set and implement the organization’s long-term agenda and goals. The President will work closely with CRL’s member and affiliate organizations, to build on CRL’s value during this period of digital transformation.
Specific responsibilities include:
Leadership and Management:
- Provide inspirational and mission-driven leadership that reflects the core values and purpose of CRL.
- Drive and direct the core activities of CRL, including but not limited to, its collections, member services, and events.
- Facilitate and champion the strategic planning process; implement systems and processes that leverage performance indicators, policies, and procedures that continuously assess and evaluate organizational impact on member institutions.
- Provide strategic direction and oversight to a high-performing management team and staff; ensure the internal culture supports the mission and promotes synergy and collaboration, along with the agility to guide the organization through a period of change and transformation.
- Oversee all HR functions including recruitment, retention, and compensation. Ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Ensure the organization is financially sound and meets short and long term financial obligations and commitments.
- Assess services and operations to ensure a sustainable model for the future.
- Ensure the organization is in compliance with accounting regulations, tax laws, and other pertinent laws or regulations.
- Build and maintain collaborative, working relationships with CRL leaders and members; demonstrate a deep understanding of their challenges and issues, and be responsive to their individual and collective needs.
- Promote the value of CRL as a key stakeholder in academic libraries' facilitation of accessibility to original research through digitization projects and preservation initiatives, which in turn promotes inspired teaching.
- Monitor developments in the research and digital technology environments to better educate and support members on emerging industry issues and trends; Convene and promote candid conversations among members on these and broader topics.
- Work in partnership with the Board of Directors to support and guide CRL’s governance.
- Maintain a transparent relationship with the Board and work collaboratively with Directors to set the organization’s strategic agenda, enabling the organization to adapt to a constantly changing external environment.
- Initiate and maintain regular communication with the Board and keep them informed about the organization’s progress, activities, and challenges.
- Inform the Board of critical issues as they arise and coordinate Board discussion and decision making.
External Affairs and Fund Development:
- Serve as the official spokesperson of CRL; articulate and promote CRL’s role and value to the preservation and accessibility of scholarly information globally; to all internal and external constituencies, including the general public and the media.
- Continue to increase CRL’s name recognition through branding and other initiatives.
- Serve as an advocate for and educator on the importance and role of research libraries in society.
- Monitor developments within the federal government and scholarly research community as they relate to the mission and goals of CRL and/or the concerns of its members.
- Communicate and lead programmatic interactions with other library and research associations and affiliated organizations in the U.S. and globally.
- Create and implement a strategy to diversify and increase revenue.
- Personally, build and maintain key relationships to ensure fund development strategy is achieved.
The successful candidate will possess 7-10 years of executive leadership experience with a grounded understanding of the research library community, issues facing members in the 21st century, and the important role of CRL. This individual will be a dynamic and energetic leader who exhibits confidence, a collaborative spirit, and an inspired approach that will influence and motivate all key stakeholders.
Specific experience/qualifications sought include:
- Demonstrated successful senior management experience managing a complex library or cultural heritage related organization; leading strategic planning, fostering innovation, and implementing significant organizational change.
- Diplomatic and personable; deep understanding of and commitment to the preservation and accessibility of documentation, data, evidence, and other records of human history, knowledge, and culture, in both traditional and electronic forms.
- Creative; has an ability to keep member institutions highly engaged in CRL’s work by continually articulating and fostering a strong and unique value proposition for CRL.
- Innovative; possesses a forward-thinking mindset that can help CRL expand its impact and relevancy for and among members.
- Dynamic convener; demonstrates an ability to listen to and engage others in the organization’s decision-making process.
- Exceptional board relations and management experience; an understanding of how to energize influential leaders and leverage the collective power of the organization.
- Proven success in managing a high-performing team; experience creating and setting goals, articulating a vision, and developing team members.
- Demonstrated proactive experience in promoting diversity and inclusion and working effectively with a diverse workforce.
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills; projects a professional presentation style and public image.
- Ability and willingness to seek out and obtain new revenue sources for CRL.
- Leadership skills and capacity to implement and advance major internal and external initiatives as well as organization-wide transformation.
- Knowledge of budgets; solid strategic, financial management, and planning skills.
- Technologically savvy; is up-to-date on new tools and techniques in data collection, assessment, and analysis.
- Highest level of personal integrity and ethical standards.
- Willingness to travel as needed for the role
A Master’s or doctorate level degree in Library and Information Science, or an equivalent combination of education and professional experience, is required.
Compensation will be competitive and commensurate with experience.
Further information about the role and the application portal can be found at:
All inquiries and nominations may be submitted in confidence to Charlotte.Kirks@Kornferry.com