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A new change of guard @ Mann

Students studying at Mann
Under Sara Wright’s management of Mann’s learning spaces, Mann facilities have been enhanced with a variety of furnishings to fit a variety of study styles and needs.

As some in the upper campus community may have already heard: There’s a new library director in town.
In late January, Cornell University Library welcomed Sara Wright as the Interim Director of Mann Library, following the retirement of Mary Ochs ’79, who led Mann Library from 2008 until January 2020. A January 27th reception celebrated Ochs’ many achievements and contributions to the Cornell University and global scholarly community, and in one of the numerous highlight moments of the occasion, Mann’s leadership torch — well, our bouquet of ceremonial corn — passed from Ochs to Wright to mark Mann’s newest dynamic transition.

Photo of Mary Ochs and Paul Wester
Mary Ochs (retiring Director, Mann Library) and Paul Wester (Director, National Agricultural Library)

Sara Wright is no stranger to Mann Library and the mission of land-grant scholarship at Cornell. Having earned a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Drexel University, Wright joined Mann Library’s staff in 2011 to manage the services offered to library patrons via the Stone Computing Classroom and other public computing facilities at Mann. In the following years, Sara assumed a number of other leadership positions in the Library, including Academic Technology Librarian, Head of User Services and Engagement, and Head of Learning, Spaces and Technology. Thanks to Sara’s stewardship in these roles, Mann has seen a number of important, widely acclaimed facilities and service improvements that have greatly enhanced the library’s learning spaces with new tools, state-of-the-art technology, and dynamic furnishings to support the wide variety of research needs and styles represented among the students and researchers who learn and work at Cornell today.


Of course, new leadership at Mann Library has some big shoes to fill. As the speakers at Mary Ochs’ retirement reception on January 27 made clear, Mary leaves a strong and lasting legacy at Mann Library and wider Cornell. Her leadership has advanced some critical progress in widening the accessibility of world class collections for researchers at Cornell and the world beyond, especially in the developing world. And under Mary’s encouraging watch, Mann took on a pioneering role in exciting new areas for academic libraries, such as the development and application of methodologies for the systematic review of already published research literature to help realize stronger returns on emergent research initiatives. As Kathryn Boor, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, summarized, over the course of her tenure as director of Mann Library, Mary Ochs proved herself a fearless leader in the Cornell community. And it’s no secret: In a time of rapid, near-constant change for libraries in the 21st century, fearlessness is indeed an invaluable quality for effective library management.


As Interim Director, Sara Wright will bridge the time until a new director of Mann Library is formally appointed. A national search to fill the position will begin shortly. Library and University stakeholders, including faculty of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Human Ecology will have an opportunity to meet and provide feedback about short-listed candidates. Any questions about the process may be directed to Search Committee members Danianne Mizzy (CUL Associate University Librarian / Search Committee Chair) and Ashley Shea, (Head of Instruction Services, Mann Library). It’s anticipated that an update on the results of the search process will be available in a few months time. And in the meantime, with Sara Wright at the helm, we can all also rest assured—Mann Library remains in excellent hands.