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Harvard announced yesterday that Richard De Gennaro will become the next Roy E. Larsen Librarian of Harvard College, ending a controversial search in which College librarians two months ago complained that their opinions were being ignored.
The appointment of De Gennaro, now director of the New York Public Library, marked a reversal by a search committee headed by Dean of the Faculty A. Michael Spence. In February, Spence's group was reported ready to name another candidate to the prestigious post, against the wishes of a "good number" of the College's 18 library curators.
Several library heads yesterday said they were "delighted" with the choice of De Gennaro, 64, who will take over the Harvard College Library's 7.5 million volume collection and 400-member staff on June 1.
"We can congratulate ourselves," said Wolfgang M. Freitag, head of the fine arts library. "We're very happy that he accepted."
"I think that the dean reconsidered after talking with the senior staff of the College Library--and made a very good decision," said Michael Ochs, head of the Loeb Music Library. "They were willing to take our concerns very seriously. That's a very gratifying event."
De Gennaro, called one the nation's most respected librarians, will succeed Y.T. Feng, who has been the Harvard College Librarian for 10 years. The College Library is the largest component of the Harvard University Library--at 11 million volumes the oldest and largest university library in the U.S.--which is under the supervision of Pforzheimer University Professor Sidney Verba '53.
The Harvard College Librarian is a "mega-librarian," rivaled in influence and importance only by the heads of the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, the British Library and the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, said Robert Wedgeworth, dean of the Columbia School of Library Science.
Wedgeworth, who had been a candidate for the Harvard post, praised De Gennaro as a pioneer in library automation and a prolific scholar.
"He has been an exemplary leader and spokesman for academic librarianship for the last few decades," said David C. Weber, director of the Stanford University Library.
De Gennaro, who could not be reached forcomment yesterday, worked as a Harvard librarianfrom 1958 to 1970. He was director of theUniversity of Pennsylvania library until 1987,when he took the New York post.
The New York library head will take charge of aHarvard system beset by logistical problems thatpose serious challenges to its role as a nationalleader among libraries, Weber said.
De Gennaro said in a prepared statement thatthe College Library faces "enormous spaceproblems." Harvard also must manage a hugecollection of older books that includes many whosehigh paper acidity is causing rapid deterioration
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