OSU Head of Special Collections retires

Cliff Mead, Head of Special Collections for the OSU Libraries, is retiring in 2011.

Clifford Mead, an expert on the life of one of Oregon State University’s most celebrated alumni, Linus Pauling, and the man responsible for the growth of the OSU Libraries world-class collections, is retiring after 24 years at the university.

Mead, Head of Special Collections for OSU Libraries, will retire effective Jan. 1, 2011.  Mead’s expertise in special collections administration has resulted in the development and growth of a collection that serves as an outstanding resource not only for the OSU community but for scholars from across the globe.

Not only is Special Collections an ideal environment for on-campus study and research, but as OSU’s Horning Professor of Humanities and Professor of History Emeritus, Mary Jo Nye explained, Mead has dedicated himself to making the collection available to the public.

“Cliff and his staff have pioneered online website communication of historically valuable documents, photographs, films, and other resources to the public,” Nye said. “He has been a real treasure at OSU whom countless visitors have found to be their engaging and omniscient guide in Special Collections.”

The focus of OSU Special Collections is on the Ava and Linus Pauling Papers with a broader emphasis on the history of 20th century science and technology. Mead has led the Special Collections Department’s development of outstanding digital resources, especially those that provide in-depth coverage of the life and work of Linus Pauling, the only recipient of two unshared Nobel Prizes.

“In addition to Professor Mead’s leadership in developing a truly innovative and  world-renowned web presence for displaying the vast resources of the Special Collections department, he has provided exceptional opportunities for OSU students to have firsthand experience working with primary research materials, ” said Karyle Butcher, former OSU University Librarian and University Press Director.

Mead is recognized internationally as the authority on the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers.  He has authored several publications, including Thomas Pynchon:  A Bibliography of Primary and Secondary Sources (1989).  His most recent book, co-edited with Chris Petersen, is The Pauling Catalogue: Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers at Oregon State University (2006).  He also has co-edited Linus Pauling: Scientist and Peacemaker (2001) and The Pauling Symposium: A Discourse on the Art of Biography (1996). Mead received his master of library science from Syracuse University School of Information Studies, Syracuse, New York and a B.A. in English from the Utica College of Syracuse University.

Paul Farber, OSU Distinguished Professor Emeritus, said it is Mead’s personality that really drove the collection.

“Cliff has that rare combination of intelligence, organization, personality, wit and humor that makes a university collection of papers and books into a Special Collection,” Farber said. “He has been at the center of creating this major asset at OSU, one that has large portions available online, and one that brings scholars from around the world to campus.  He cannot be replaced, but he has built an institution that will persist.”

Larry Landis, University Archivist, will serve as interim director of the Special Collections beginning Jan. 1, 2011 until a permanent head is named.  Landis is an experienced library administrator, having served as the University Archivist since December 1996.  Landis started his career at OSU in January 1991 after having worked for seven years at the University of Texas at Austin at what is now the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.  Landis earned an M.A. in history from Texas Christian University and completed post- graduate work in archives

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