AUSTIN, Texas — Head librarian of the Folger Shakespeare Library Stephen Enniss has been appointed as the new director of the internationally renowned Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin.
Enniss will take over the duties of current Director Thomas F. Staley, who will retire Aug. 31. Staley, who has been responsible for scores of notable acquisitions and the Center’s enormous growth during his 25-year tenure, had announced plans to retire in 2011, but later agreed to postpone his retirement date. Staley, who is also the Harry Huntt Ransom Chair in Liberal Arts, will remain on faculty and plans to teach in the College of Liberal Arts. Enniss will start at the Ransom Center Aug. 1 to allow time for a smooth transition.
“Under Dr. Staley’s leadership the Ransom Center has become an American pantheon of literary and artistic luminaries, an invaluable resource for UT students and scholars the world over,” said Bill Powers, university president. “Dr. Stephen Enniss brings the expertise and stature to continue the Ransom Center’s trajectory and carry it to new heights. I look forward to seeing what new treasures from our cultural heritage will come to this tremendous archive under his leadership.”
In his new role, Enniss will oversee the research library and museum, which has become known as one of the top institutions of its kind and has more than 78,000 visitors annually.
The Center houses 42 million literary manuscripts, nearly 1 million rare books, 5 million photographs, and more than 100,000 works of art, as well as major holdings relating to film and the performing arts. Highlights from the collections include the Gutenberg Bible (ca. 1455), the First Photograph (1826-1827), film archives of Robert De Niro and "Gone With The Wind" producer David O. Selznick, paintings by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and the manuscripts of James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Tennessee Williams, Doris Lessing, Norman Mailer, Anne Sexton, J. M. Coetzee, and David Foster Wallace, among hundreds of other collections.
The Folger Shakespeare Library, located on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and administered by Amherst College, is the world’s largest Shakespeare collection and the largest early modern English collection in North America. It receives more than 100,000 visitors annually to its museum and thousands of researchers from more than 70 institutions and 20 countries to its reading rooms. Under Enniss’ leadership as the Eric Weinmann Librarian since 2009, the library has expanded access to the Folger collection, strengthened collection development and planned for an upcoming renovation of public spaces scheduled for this year.
Before joining the Folger Shakespeare Library, Enniss served as curator and later director of Emory University’s Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library. He was the principal negotiator on major acquisitions, including the papers of Salman Rushdie and the gift of the 75,000-volume Raymond Danowski Poetry Library. He earned his A.B. in English from Davidson College in 1982, a master’s degree in librarianship from Emory in 1983; and his Ph.D. in English from the University of Georgia in 1996.
“The Ransom Center is among the finest research libraries in the country with unparalleled holdings and a storied past,” Enniss said. ‘I am honored to join my new colleagues there in helping to extend further its important and ongoing cultural work.”