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Harvard College Library News: News from around the libraries

Katharine Martinez Departs for The University of Arizona

kathy martinez  

Katharine Martinez


April 30, 2010 – Katharine Martinez, Herman and Joan Suit Librarian of the Fine Arts Library, will depart Harvard College Library (HCL) in June to take a position as Director of the Center for Creative Photography, an archive and research center at The University of Arizona. In her new position, Martinez will oversee one of the world’s largest collections of works by 20th century North American photographers, its education program, exhibitions, and publications. 

Martinez assumed the head position of the Fine Arts Library (FAL), the primary resource for the study of the history of art and related disciplines at Harvard University, in 1998. Prior to coming to the Harvard College Library, she served as the Program Officer, New Digital Services, at the Research Libraries Group.  In her 11 years at HCL, Martinez guided the Fine Arts Library through unprecedented changes, including the relocation of the library and the increasing use of digital resources both inside and outside the classroom.

 “Kathy’s outstanding commitment to service has made her a valuable resource for students and faculty at Harvard and from around the world. She is attuned to the curriculum, the areas of scholarship, the research, and the instructional needs of the constituencies the Fine Arts Library serves and has shaped the program to deliver on these fronts,” said Nancy Cline, Roy E. Larsen Librarian of Harvard College.”

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Perhaps the most visible change at FAL under Martinez’s tenure was the relocation of the FAL from the Fogg Art Museum to two renovated campus locations.  Martinez led staff throughout the three year project that involved planning space needs, selecting cataloged materials for HD, repairing and re-housing thousands of volumes, and organizing, cataloging and re-housing 1.5 million prints and photographs.  She worked closely with the FAS Planning Office, architects, many others to plan the renovation of the former Littauer Library and a space in the Sackler Museum, converting them into attractive new spaces to house the Fine Arts Library programs.

Under Martinez’s direction, the Fine Arts Library, in collaboration with the Harvard Art Museum, received $1 million in Library Digital Imaging Program grants from the Harvard University Library to establish and staff a digital photography lab, and launch a digitization program to support teaching needs. Martinez also initiated an agreement with ARTstor to host FAL’s digital collections of teaching images for classroom presentation, enabling easier creation and management of classroom presentations.

Recognizing the evolving nature of library collections, users, and faculty instructional needs, Martinez realigned staff and reorganized the Visual Collections Department into two departments: one to support immediate teaching needs for slides and digital images, and one to care for photographs and special visual collections.  She worked with a consulting firm to streamline and standardize the image cataloging workflow. As a result, FAL catalogs approximately 30,000 images annually.  Martinez also initiated the transition of the FAL’s Technical Services group into the HCL Technical Services unit, and oversaw the integration of FAL’s preservation program into the HCL Preservation Services unit.

Under Martinez’s leadership, the Fine Arts Library underwent dramatic growth. In 2004, she oversaw the integration of the staff, collections and workflow of the Rubel Asiatic Research Collection into FAL. The same year, the Harvard Film Archive (HFA) was integrated into FAL. Martinez served as Acting Director of the HFA until the position was filled in 2006, overseeing collection management and conservation, as well as year-round public film programming and special events in the 230-seat Cinematheque.  

Major acquisitions made during Martinez’s tenure include the Daniel Tassel Collection of Photographs of the Middle East, the Lothar and Eva Just Film Stills Collection; and the Judith Hancock de Sandoval Collection.  In collaboration with FAL bibliographers and HCL Development, Martinez acquired gift funds to support the cataloging and digitization of photographs, lantern slides, films, and Chinese tomb rubbings.

Active in the Harvard Community throughout the years, Martinez was a member of the Harvard College Library Technical Services Working Group and the Harvard University Art Museums Executive Planning Committee. She served as co-chair of the Friends of the Harvard College Library and the Visual Materials Working Group of the Harvard University Library.

Martinez plans to leave Harvard in mid-June. Upon her departure, Mary Clare Altenhofen, Associate Librarian of the Fine Arts Library for Research and Public Services, will assume the role of interim head of FAL.