University Libraries names room, endowment for Dean Emerita Barbara I. Dewey

July 12, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In recognition of Barbara I. Dewey’s retirement from Penn State and in honor of her decade of service and leadership as dean of the University Libraries and Scholarly Communications, Penn State University Libraries has honored her with two gifts. One is an endowment to enhance leadership development; the other is a named space within Pattee Library and Paterno Library’s Collaboration Commons.

The new Barbara I. Dewey Libraries Leadership Endowment will provide ongoing support for University Libraries leadership development initiatives. Created through lead gifts by members of the Library Development Board, the endowment may enable efforts such as sponsorships for speakers, seminars and workshops to maintain and improve Penn State’s leadership position among major academic research libraries. The endowment’s income also may assist early- to mid-career library faculty members in attending regional and national leadership development programs and conferences.

In addition, a large multipurpose room in Pattee Library and Paterno Library’s new ground floor Collaboration Commons will now be known as the Barbara I. Dewey Meeting Room to honor her contributions. During a decade of leadership as dean, Dewey advocated for and oversaw the renovation of several library spaces at campuses across the University, transforming them from places for housing books to places that facilitate modern student learning and engagement. In particular, the Collaboration Commons and Central Atrium, a $17.3 million renovation and infill expansion project, were completed in August 2019 during her tenure.

“After 45 years of library service, the last 10 as dean of the Penn State Libraries, Barbara agreed to extend her retirement to December 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic emerged and impacted the University’s ability to conduct a search for her replacement,” said Scott Steinhauer, Library Development Board chair. “Because of her many leadership contributions to Penn State, the Library Development Board felt that a fund dedicated to leadership development and a space frequented by the many students she helped were fitting tributes to Barbara’s library legacy.”

Dewey oversaw many transformative changes and impactful initiatives to advance Penn State’s academic mission, particularly to benefit students and scholars who use the University Libraries. Under her leadership, the Libraries also created a Textbook and Educational Resources Endowment, now valued at more than $1.5 million, to purchase course materials for students to borrow. She also was influential in advancing the adoption of Open Access at Penn State, to allow and facilitate public availability of original, peer-reviewed scholarly research.

Dewey also became well known for her advocacy of diversity initiatives, including the implementation of a multi-year diversity residency program. Selected recipients receive postgraduate experience and pursue career development opportunities in preparation for future library leadership roles.

“I am incredibly grateful for recognition from the Library Development Board and Penn State, which features my deep interest in leadership development and innovative space creation,” Dewey said.

Individuals interested in contributing to the endowment may do so at

Gifts will advance “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by serving communities and fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit

  • Barbara Dewey

    Barbara Dewey, dean emerita of University Libraries and Scholarly Communications at Penn State

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated July 12, 2021