Elizabeth (Liz) Lorang has been named interim dean of the University Libraries. The leadership change has been prompted by the departure of Claire Stewart, who has been selected to serve as the dean of libraries at the University of Illinois.
The appointment, announced Feb. 17 by Katherine Ankerson, executive vice chancellor, is effective May 2 pending approval by the University of Nebraska Board of Regents. Details about a national search to permanently fill the position will be announced later this spring.
As interim dean, Lorang will provide direction and leadership for Love Library, Adele Hall Learning Commons, Dinsdale Family Learning Commons, the Library Depository Retrieval Facility, and discipline libraries in architecture, engineering, geology, math and music. She will also collaborate with other deans and directors in the University of Nebraska Consortium of Libraries and represent the university in the Association of Research Libraries and Big Ten Academic Alliance. Lorang’s knowledge and experience will ensure continued momentum for the Libraries’ strategic priorities.
“Liz has spent a decade of her career within the University Libraries and her administrative experience as associate dean for the past five years will ensure a smooth transition to this role for the libraries’ faculty and staff,” Ankerson said. “I look forward to Liz’s leadership and working with her during this important phase of the libraries’ organizational development, moving forward with key priorities, and supporting her work for libraries across the university and the state of Nebraska.”
Lorang joined the University Libraries in 2013 as research assistant professor and digital projects librarian, and in 2016 was appointed associate professor and humanities librarian following a national search. Lorang has served as associate dean of University Libraries since 2018, and in this role works towards the broad sharing of research data and the advancement of open scholarship. She is an alumna of the Association of Research Libraries Leadership Fellows Program and Harvard University’s Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians.
Across her teaching and librarianship, Lorang seeks to empower individuals to create new meaning, new opportunity, and new futures by drawing on and building from rich and diverse information systems. She is an inaugural member of the National Agricultural Producers Data Cooperative; co-leader of the taskforce charged with developing a comprehensive research data strategy for the university; a fellow in the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities; a fellow in the Center for Great Plains Studies; co-founder and co-director of the Aida digital libraries research lab; and co-founder and co-director of the Genoa Indian School Digital Reconciliation Project. Her efforts have been supported by a range of funders including the National Endowment for the Humanities, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Council on Library and Information Resources, American Council of Learned Societies, and the university’s Grand Challenges initiative.
Lorang holds a Bachelor of Science in English from Towson University, a Master of Arts in information science and learning technology from the University of Missouri, and a doctorate in English from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
“Led by Dean Stewart, the libraries have embarked on an ambitious strategic plan that recognizes and propels our leadership on issues of critical import, at the campus level and beyond,” Lorang said. “I am simultaneously proud and humbled to steward this work, represent our libraries, look out for the well-being of our people, and collaborate intensely during this interim period.”
During her tenure, Stewart oversaw the completion of the Dinsdale Family Learning Commons renovation project, the relocation of the architecture library, and the upcoming relocation of the music library. She also led the University of Nebraska Consortium of Libraries through one of its largest collaborative projects: the migration to a new enterprise library system across all campuses.
In true collaborative spirit, Stewart helped to establish a UNCL-wide research data team to build robust support for scholars across the system, a new university-wide task force to develop a comprehensive research data strategy, and worked with the dean of arts and sciences and university leadership to prepare the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities for the transition to a new incentive-based budget model and official recognition as a university-wide research center. Within the Libraries, Stewart presided over a new strategic plan, an administrative reorganization that included new leadership appointments, and new set of University Libraries’ bylaws.
During the pandemic, Stewart was among the first to apply for and receive an emergency agreement with HathiTrust, one of the largest digital libraries projects, to allow students access to digital materials they needed to continue on their academic path. She currently serves as chair of the Board of Governors for HathiTrust. She also represented the university in the creation of the Big Ten Academic Alliance BIG Collection, in which members manage their separate libraries as a single, shared collection for Big Ten faculty and students. She has championed information justice and increased openness as key components of a more sustainable approach to library collections, leading UNCL in emphasizing equity and cost containment in negotiations with publishers and strengthening university investments in open access alternatives.