In Memoriam: Ann Wolpert

She defined the research library’s role in a digital world.

Ann Wolpert, MIT’s director of libraries since 1996, died October 2 after a brief illness. She was 70.

Ann Wolpert

Wolpert, who also chaired the board of MIT Technology Review and oversaw the MIT Press, came to the Institute just as it was becoming clear that the Web would bring opportunities and upheavals to research libraries. A leading voice in discussions in scientific, research, and university communities about how the decades-old systems of peer-reviewed scholarly journals ought to operate online, she argued for unrestricted online access to journal articles but articulated how the practice of peer review could remain. In 2005, Wolpert served as president of the Association of Research Libraries.

Hal Abelson, professor of computer science and engineering and founding director of both Creative Commons and the Free Software Foundation, called Wolpert “one of the great intellectual leaders at MIT.”

Under Wolpert’s leadership, the MIT Libraries developed DSpace, a landmark open-source digital archive for faculty output that has been adopted by more than 1,000 institutions worldwide. She was instrumental in conceiving an institution-wide faculty open-access policy at MIT, the first of its kind in the country.

Prior to joining MIT, Wolpert had served as executive director of library and information services at the Harvard Business School and managed the information center of Arthur D. Little, a management consulting firm.

President L. Rafael Reif remembered Wolpert as “an excellent steward of our scholarship—and a very dear colleague.”

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