Digital Public Library of America Appoints Three Nationally-Recognized Library Leaders to Board; Elects Denise Stephens as Chair

By DPLA, August 27, 2019.
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The Digital Public Library of America today announced the appointment of three nationally-recognized library leaders to its board of directors. Jill Bourne, city librarian for San José, California; Felton Thomas, director of the Cleveland Public Library; and Elaine Westbrooks, vice provost of University Libraries and university librarian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, were each elected to three-year terms. The board has also elected Denise Stephens, vice provost and university librarian at Washington University in St. Louis, as chair. Stephens has served on DPLA’s board since 2016. 

“Jill, Felton and Elaine bring decades of experience as library leaders to our work,”  said DPLA Executive Director John Bracken. “Their additions, and Denise’s elevation, are well-timed to help DPLA deliver on our mission to ensure equitable access to America’s cultural riches for all.”

“It’s a privilege to be the chair of DPLA at this important time in its history,” said newly elected board chair, Denise Stephens. “After having recently renewed our commitment to access, equity and innovation, DPLA is well prepared and positioned to continue enhancing our services and expanding our partnerships.”  

Departing chair Brian Bannon will, with previous chair Amy Ryan, develop an emeritus board that will advise the organization in its future growth.  

About the new board members:

Denise Stephens is the vice provost and university librarian at Washington University in St. Louis. Stephens manages the University Libraries’ nine locations, the archives and special collections, and more than 150 professional and support staff. Prior to her work at Washington University, Stephens was the university librarian at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she planned and executed the $80 million expansion and update of the university’s library.

Jill Bourne is the city librarian in San José, California, overseeing the city’s main Martin Luther King, Jr., Library, in a partnership with the San José State University, and 22 branch libraries. In 2017, Bourne was named the Library Journal Librarian of the Year.  A member of the Urban Libraries Council Executive Board and American Library Association Committee on Literacy, Bourne has also been acknowledged as a Library Journal “Mover & Shaker.” Bourne holds a B.A. from New York University and an MLIS from the University of Washington.

Felton Thomas is the director of the Cleveland Public Library. During his tenure, Cleveland Public Library was named a “Top Innovator” by the Urban Libraries Council for its use of technology and data to inform decision making. Thomas has been named a Library Journal “Mover and Shaker” and has served as president of the Public Library Association, a member of the Aspen Institute Task Force on Learning and the Internet and president of the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. Thomas earned a B.A. in psychology from The University of Nevada-Las Vegas and his MLIS from The University of Hawaii, and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Managerial Leadership in the Information Profession at Simmons College. His library career began at age 13, when he became the youngest employee in Las Vegas-Clark County Library District history.

Elaine Westbrooks is the vice provost of university libraries and university librarian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Westbrooks has previously held positions at the University of Pittsburgh, Cornell University, University of Nebraska and University of Michigan. She has presented her research at various conferences, including the American Library Association, the Coalition for Networked Information, Dublin Core, and the Library and Information Technology Association. In 2015, Elaine was the recipient of the Foreign Expert Award from Fudan University in Shanghai, China. She has a B.A. in Linguistics and an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh.