Princeton Historian To Head Harvard's Libraries

Darnton will replace Sidney Verba as libaries chief, University professor

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Justin Ide/harvard news office

Robert C. Darnton '60 will replace Sidney Verba as director of the Harvard University Library and Pforzheimer University professor on July 1.

Robert C. Darnton '60, a historian of 18th-century France from Princeton, will serve as the director of the Harvard University Library, Provost Steven E. Hyman announced Tuesday afternoon.

Darnton will replace long-time library director Sidney Verba '53 on July 1 and assume Verba's post as the Pforzheimer University Professor. Verba announced his intention to retire in September after directing the University's 90 libraries for 23 years.

Darnton, a scholar in the "history of the book," will be returning to his alma mater after teaching at Princeton for nearly 40 years. He spent his undergraduate years in Adams House and served as a junior fellow on the Society of Fellows.

“The Harvard University Library is one of the country’s greatest intellectual assets, but it is enormously complex and expensive. It must maintain its leadership while helping to shape the new information society of the 21st century," Darnton said in a statement. “Having, as a historian, studied the world of books in the distant past, I now have an opportunity to do something for the cause of books and book learning in the present."

Hyman led the six-month long search for a new library director with the help of an advisory group composed of nine faculty members, two librarians and Lawrence M. Levine, the University's chief information officer.

“Robert Darnton is a scholar of exceptional creativity and distinction whose intellectual interests are ideally suited for the leadership of one of the world’s great libraries,” Hyman said in a statement.

—Staff writer Claire M. Guehenno can be reached at guehenno@fas.harvard.edu.