New Leadership for Collections, Technology, and Partnerships at CRL

Tuesday, August 31, 2021
Andrea Duntz -

CRL says farewell and thank you to departing team members James Simon, Director of Collections and Partnerships and Judy Alspach, Area Studies Program Manager, and welcomes Thomas Padilla and Samantha Abrams into new leadership roles.  

Farewell and Thank you to Departing Team Members  

James Simon is well-known to the CRL community, having begun his career at CRL in 1998 as Program Officer for Area Studies. During his tenure, Simon has served CRL in a number of roles, including Head of International Resources, Vice President for Collections and Services, and most recently as Director of Collections and Partnerships. His contributions to CRL and the field of research librarianship are many, and he counts among his proudest accomplishments his work supporting large-scale content partnerships in service of the library community, such as the Global Press Archive Charter Alliance and the current MacArthur Foundation supported Repository of Documentation related to Disappearances in Mexico (RDDM).  Simon’s final day at CRL will be Friday, October 1st.  

Judy Alspach has been a longstanding presence in the Area Studies community since coming to CRL in 2006. Throughout her time at CRL, Judy has worked tirelessly with and on behalf of the International and Area Studies programs administered by CRL, including the six ‘AMPs’: Cooperative Africana Materials Project (CAMP), Latin American Materials Project (LAMP), Middle East Materials Project (MEMP), South Asia Materials Project (SAMP), Southeast Asia Materials Project (SEAM), Slavic and East European Materials Project (SEEMP); as well as the Collaborative Initiative for French Language Collections (CIFNAL), German-North American Resources Partnership (GNARP), Latin Americanist Research Resources Project (LARRP), and the Technical Report Archive & Image Library (TRAIL). Alspach’s last day at CRL is Thursday, September 2nd.  

Welcoming Padilla and Abrams into Leadership Positions   

As Senior Director of Collections, Technology, and Partnerships, Thomas Padilla will provide facilitated leadership to the CRL and research library community as we holistically shape the role of research libraries in a rapidly evolving ecosystem. Padilla has a particular passion for collections and technology efforts that advance equity, as evidenced through development of a community research agenda that advances responsible computational use of collections and his leadership of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded Collections as Data program, now stewarded by the Center for Research Libraries.  

As Head of Collections, Samantha Abrams will focus on forming and managing forward-thinking partnerships that advance cultural heritage community aspirations to increase equity for the communities they serve. Abrams comes to CRL with significant experience and expertise in web archiving and collaborative collection development, having served most recently as the Web Resources Collection Librarian for the Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation, and previously as the Community Archivist at StoryCorps

Together, Padilla and Abrams bring enthusiasm and expertise to CRL efforts to operationalizing a post-custodial approach to collective collection building, and expanded forms of engagement with cultural heritage collections, including collections as data, the International Image Interoperability Framework, machine learning, and preservation and use of web archives.  

Padilla and Abrams are already serving in their roles, and working with the CRL Collections Services and Policy Committee and the CRL International Collections and Content Group on exciting plans for staffing CRL’s collections team.  

The Impact of CRL

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At CRL’s 2018 Global Collections Forum, Julie Sweetkind-Singer, Head of Branner Earth Sciences Library and Map Collections at Stanford University Libraries, discussed how satellite imagery and large geospatial datasets are being used as source materials for scholars in a variety of disciplines, and the new types of library support they require.