Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Amherst College President to head NYC Public Library system

By Dan Peltier

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The New York City Public Library’s (NYPL) Board of Trustees announced earlier this month that Amherst College President Dr. Anthony Marx will become the next president and CEO of the library starting in July 2011.

The move will force Marx to step down from his position as President of Amherst College, a post he has held since 2003. Marx is the eighteenth President in Amherst College’s 189-year history.
According to Masslive.com, while at Amherst, Marx led a $450 million capital fund raising campaign that featured one donor contributing a $100 million gift, believed to be the largest donation ever to a liberal arts college. Marx said he is proud of what he has accomplished at Amherst and where he has taken the school during his time there.

“We’ve more than doubled our enrollment, and we’re now minority white students,” said Marx. “We’re the most selective liberal arts college in America.”

Marx said that he decided to take the post at the NYPL because he feels that it shares similar beliefs and ideas with those of Amherst College.

“New York Public Library shares many of the same values that Amherst College has in regards to education and learning,” said Marx.

Marx has high hopes for the NYPL, and has a vision for where he wants to take the library in the future.

“I hope that I can help the library move to have better access to ideas and information,” said Marx. “We need to ensure that the 90 branches throughout the city have equal access to these ideas and information.”

As far as what his first move as President at the library will be, Marx said that he will visit one of the library’s icons for support and advice.

“I plan to visit the famous Winnie the Pooh statue in the library to get inspiration from that,” Marx joked.

With the NYPL facing massive budget cuts, Marx realizes that he has his work cut out for him when he assumes the post next year.

“Libraries are under a threat both nationally and globally,” said Marx. “There won’t be just one thing that I’ll have to do first; there will be many.”

Library Chairwoman Catherine C. Marron and Vice Chairman Joshua L. Steiner issued a joint statement expressing their excitement about Marx’s appointment.

“We are thrilled with the choice of Tony Marx,” said Marron and Steiner. “Everything he stands for – as a New Yorker, a scholar, and a dynamic change agent – makes Tony perfectly placed to lead the New York Public Library.”

Marx was the youngest president in Amherst College’s history, starting the position at the age of 44. Prior to coming to Amherst, Marx was at Columbia University for 13 years as a professor and later, director of undergraduate political science. He also has led a large number of successful secondary school initiatives in the United States and abroad. When he was only in his 20s, Marx helped to found Khanya College, a South African secondary school that prepared more than 1,000 black students for university, according to nypl.org, the library’s website.

“At Amherst, and for higher education more broadly, Tony Marx has been a courageous and skilled leader. He understands instinctively that America’s greatest institutions need to be more accessible to all Americans, based on merit rather than elitism based on wealth and connections,” said Jide Zeitlin, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Amherst College, in a press release from NYPL.

Marx has been a longtime advocate for public education, and feels that New York is a place that shares in his passion for creating opportunities for public education.

“New York is a city that has always taken immigrants and populations of great talent and given them opportunities, and the library has always been in the forefront of that,” said Marx in a recent New York Times article. “And the need for that is even greater today, even as the technology forces us to rethink how we deliver that opportunity.”

The NYPL has more than 50 million items in its research and circulating collections. It serves 16 million patrons each year and another 28 million on its web site, nypl.org, according to Masslive.com.

Dan Peltier can be reached at [email protected]

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