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Catherine M. Tierney retirement



Catherine M. Tierney

It is with admiration, great respect and a certain sadness that I announce the retirement of Catherine “Cath” Tierney from Stanford Libraries effective 31 October 2014. Cath joined Stanford Libraries 28 years ago and has been a strategic force in our revolution ever since.

Cath’s library career spans 42 years. After 14 years establishing her career at Boston University, she leapt at the chance to make a dramatic change in her life- to accept a junior position at Stanford. She and her husband, Bill, whom many might remember from his days in Library Systems, saw the open road and took it. While at SUL, Cath’s contributions have been significant and have made this library system better and stronger as a result.

I cannot think of a task from which Cath demurred. As the manager of our first integrated library system (NOTIS), Cath simultaneously led the operational implementation of Acquisitions and Cataloging and then Circulation across all of SUL. In 1994 I took her out of Systems to take the reins for re-engineering Technical Services. Under her leadership the processes and services she put in place became benchmarks that also won admiration from peer institutions.

Other notable accomplishments during her tenure include managing the Tech Services elements in the Hoover integration project, which included re-configuring space and moving/integrating 500K volumes. She assumed responsibility for the Access Services Department, which she embraced enthusiastically, providing exemplary leadership to this day. Cath devised the policies for staffing, protocols, and service models of our offsite storage facility (Stanford Auxiliary Library 3 or SAL3) that resulted in smooth integration of campus needs, facility operations, and therefore a solid supportive service.

Cath's ability to see through the noise and busy-ness of a current state scenario for the benefit of the long term is what I have relied on throughout her role as Associate University Librarian. Perhaps what I have come to value most is her equanimity and approach to tough decisions; I can always count on Cath’s cool head and warm heart.

One instance of Cath’s true grit came on a dark afternoon in 2003. After spending 2 years on SAL3 planning and fully occupied on concluding the details for the opening which was only 2 months away, I told her that the Google founders wanted us to send all our books to them to digitize. First she gulped, then she said, “How can we NOT do this? We’ll figure it out!” She spent the next years integrating Google into both SAL3 projects and all campus libraries. The protocols Cath insisted on for managing the movement of materials to, through, and from Google became the basis for the entire Google Library Partners operating procedures.

Cath is an analyst in her soul; a fixer, a problem solver and is a deeply respected professional and friend within SUL and widely beyond. She has offered great leadership on several committees and as a speaker at numerous conferences. She has been a consummate professional operating and contributing at the highest strategic levels in this organization for Stanford’s benefit and to the national community of large research libraries.

I am convinced Cath’s impact and legacy will continue for years to come, especially through the talented staff she has mentored. Including the great Phil Schreur, who will be serving as interim Assistant University Librarian of Technical Services.

This was not a precipitous decision on her part. Personally and professionally she analyzed and planned this next chapter in her life for quite some time. There is never a good time for me or for us to bid farewell to such an anchor in our organization. However Cath’s analysis indicates this is the auspicious date for her, and so we will trust her word as we always do.      

We will be celebrating the contributions and friendship of the magnificent, the one and only Catherine M. Tierney at her retirement party on 30 October 2014. For more information about the event, please contact Kimberly Kay at

With a heavy heart for Stanford Libraries, but a light one for Cath,

Michael A. Keller
University Librarian

By Michael A. Keller

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