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University of Pennsylvania Libraries Announces Sean Quimby as Director of Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies

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The Penn Libraries is pleased to announce that Sean Quimby, Associate University Librarian and Director of the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, has been appointed Director of the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies (SIMS)

An integral part of the Penn Libraries, SIMS is a think tank for manuscript studies in the digital age. Core components of SIMS include the Lawrence J. Schoenberg collection of manuscripts, donated to the Penn Libraries by Schoenberg in 2011, and the Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts, a free, open-access resource that enables researchers to trace the provenance of manuscripts from their origins to present times. SIMS publishes the bi-annual scholarly journal Manuscript Studies and hosts, in partnership with the Free Library of Philadelphia, the annual Schoenberg Symposium on Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age, which engages scholars from around the world. 

“Sean has been guiding SIMS since he joined the Penn Libraries, from leading the staff and convening SIMS faculty advisory board meetings to hosting and delivering the opening remarks for the Schoenberg Symposium,” said Constantia Constantinou, H. Carton Rogers III Vice Provost and Director of Libraries. “His long experience in networking scholars globally and building distinctive collections combined with his technological imagination make him an ideal choice to lead this important area of the Penn Libraries’ work.” 

In his role as Associate University Librarian and Director of the Kislak Center, Quimby leads a staff of 50 curators, archivists, librarians and researchers—including SIMS staff—and oversees special collections that comprise 300,000 printed books and nearly ten million pieces of manuscript material within the University's seven million-volume library system. The Kislak Center’s collections span the ancient world to the contemporary era and are global in scope. Other special collections in the Penn Libraries are held at the Library of the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, the Fisher Fine Arts Library, and the Penn Museum Library. 

As Director of SIMS, Quimby will lead the SIMS team as they continue to expand their programs, fellowships, and initiatives in alignment with their mission to bring manuscript culture, modern technology and people together to bring access to and understanding of intellectual heritage locally and around the world. In recent years SIMS staff have spearheaded major digitization and research initiatives, including the Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis collaborative project (2016–2019), and OPenn, the University of Pennsylvania’s open access digital repository for cultural works. SIMS projects currently in development include the Digital Scriptorium 2.0 redevelopment planning project, VisColl collation visualization web app, and Books as Symbols in Renaissance Art web database. 

Reflecting on his new role, Quimby said, “Larry [Schoenberg]’s vision for SIMS is as powerful and resonant today as it was in his lifetime. I am honored to be named Director and to have the opportunity to help advance that vision by working with the talented scholars, curators, and digital humanists at Penn and in the global manuscript studies community.”   

About SIMS 

The Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies (SIMS), located within the Penn Libraries’ Jay I. Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts, is a dynamic research think tank that focuses on pre-modern manuscripts and manuscript culture and supports an array of manuscript-related digital projects. Guided by the vision of its founder, Lawrence J. Schoenberg, SIMS brings manuscript culture, modern technology and people together to bring access to and understanding of intellectual heritage locally and around the world.  

About the Kislak Center 

The Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts advances learning and inspires discovery in Penn's community and around the world. The goals of the Kislak Center align with those of the Penn Libraries as a whole: to make our collections accessible; to use technology in innovative and meaningful ways; to enhance teaching and research; and to preserve our cultural resources for future generations.  

About the Penn Libraries 

The Penn Libraries provides a network of information resources and knowledge services that are vital to teaching, research, and learning at the University of Pennsylvania. This network includes 14 physical libraries, recognized for their collections, and a digital library known for innovation and richness of content. Through exhibitions and lectures, and through the acquisition and preservation of literary and artistic artifacts, the Penn Libraries documents a wealth of social and historical periods, bringing scholarship to life at the University and in the various communities it serves.