Gonnerman to be new dean of UAB Libraries

Written by  Karen Templeton

Kasia Gonnerman 400Kasia Gonnerman will begin her work at UAB April 1.Kasia Gonnerman has been selected as the next dean of UAB Libraries, following a national search. Gonnerman, who is director of Vanderbilt University’s Central Library, will begin her work at UAB April 1.

Gonnerman will succeed John Meador, the inaugural dean of UAB Libraries, who held that role five years before announcing his intent to retire in 2019. Jeffrey Graveline, J.D., associate dean for Research and Instructional Services, will be the interim dean from Feb. 10 until Gonnerman’s arrival.

“We are honored to have Ms. Gonnerman lead our UAB Libraries,” said Pam Benoit, vice president of Academic Affairs and provost. “She is joining us at an exciting time, as more than $2 million has been invested in the UAB Libraries’ collections, resources and personnel and an additional $498,000 has been dedicated to physical renovations and improvements. The growth of our libraries will continue under her leadership.”

“I look forward to finding more ways for its libraries to foster interdisciplinary collaboration and expand innovative programming and outreach.”

~ Kasia Gonnerman

UAB Libraries comprises The Mervyn H. Sterne Library, which supports teaching and research in the arts and humanities, business, education, engineering, natural sciences and mathematics plus social and behavioral sciences, and Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences, which provides services and resources for users in medicine, nursing, optometry, dentistry, public health, health professions and joint health sciences. 

Gonnerman welcomes the opportunity to be a part of the dynamic system that is the hub of teaching and research.

“I am excited to join a growing research institution such as UAB, and I look forward to finding more ways for its libraries to foster interdisciplinary collaboration and expand innovative programming and outreach," Gonnerman said.

Benoit credits the search committee — comprising university and library faculty and staff and chaired by UAB Senior Vice Provost and International Officer Suzanne Austin — for a thorough and successful search.

“UAB’s modern libraries are crucial in enabling us to foster our culture of excellence and innovation,” Benoit said. “The search committee did a tremendous job identifying, recruiting and evaluating strong candidates for this important position.”

Gonnerman’s experience includes managing Vanderbilt’s flagship library for the arts and sciences, humanities, social sciences and interdisciplinary fields. Prior to Vanderbilt University, Gonnerman was head of research and instruction at St. Olaf College Libraries in Northfield, Minnesota, where she planned and oversaw the libraries’ research and instruction program for all three of its branches.  

During the past five years, UAB has increased library funding for scholarly resources by 20% and added nine library faculty positions. Aligned with the university’s institutional strategic plan, the UAB Libraries have steadily acquired new software and enhanced facilities while remaining user-focused.

“We grateful for John’s leadership,” Benoit said of Meador, whose career spanned 50 years. “He built and directed programs positioning our libraries to more effectively play a lead role in our university’s innovation. The investments in our libraries have laid the groundwork for more exciting developments.” 

With Gonnerman at the helm, UAB Libraries is expected to continue to provide professional development and training opportunities for library staff, provide faculty-focused workshops, update available technologies and digital resources and continue to involve librarians in academic and research units across campus.

Gonnerman earned her master of arts in English linguistics with a specialization in American literature from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland, where she also taught as a senior lecturer. She later received a master of library and information science from Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois. She also attended the Harvard Institute for Academic Libraries and is fluent in Polish and Russian.