Kansas University has selected the top librarian at Auburn University to be its next dean of libraries.
Stella Bentley, 58, will start on April 1 at KU. She will be in charge of the 3.6 million books and 27,000 periodicals housed at the seven libraries on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses.
"It's just the opportunity to work in one of the finest libraries in the country," Bentley said. "That's an opportunity that I really think will be exciting."
Bentley, who will make $140,000 a year, will replace Julia Rholes, who has served as interim dean since Keith Russell resigned in January because of health reasons. Rholes will return to her position as assistant dean of information services.
Bentley has been dean of libraries at Auburn University, Alabama's largest university with 22,000 students, since 1997.
Auburn's library has three facilities with 2.2 million volumes and 19,000 periodicals. Its annual budget is $11 million, compared to $14 million at KU.
Before going to Auburn, she was an assistant library director for nine years at the University of California-Santa Barbara and for two years at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. She also was a librarian for nine years at Indiana University.
Bentley serves as chair of the Diversity Committee for the Association of Research Libraries, chair of the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries and a director for the Southeastern Library Network.
Bill Carswell, associate dean of architecture and chair of the library dean search committee, said Bentley was "a very powerful candidate."
"She has fine intellect and a keen sense of organization and problem-solving," he said. "She's a very innovative person."
Carswell said the search committee provided comments about the three finalists but didn't recommend one to Provost David Shulenburger. The other finalists were Charles W. Simpson, assistant director of library systems and administration at the State University of New York in Stony Brook, and Dana Rooks, dean of libraries at the University of Houston.
"We had good candidates," Carswell said. "That's one of the reasons we felt so comfortable not ranking the candidates and just leaving that up to the provost."
Bentley said a challenge facing KU's libraries and other libraries is maintaining print volumes while expanding digital services.
"We need to strike a balance between the print collection and the electronic collection," she said. "We're kind of living in two worlds for a while."
Like KU, Auburn has struggled to maintain its periodical subscriptions, which are increasing in price nationwide. Bentley has helped form agreements with other libraries to buy the periodicals in bulk to decrease the costs.
While Auburn is a land-grant institution whose libraries focus on engineering, agriculture and veterinary medicine, Bentley said KU's collection is more general.
"At KU we need to support a wider breadth of subjects," she said.