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Natural History Museum appoints new Trustee Dr Sarah Thomas

The Natural History Museum is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Sarah Thomas to the Board of Trustees, with immediate effect.

Lord Green, Chair of the Trustees of the Natural History Museum says: “Sarah has held a number of high-profile leadership roles across eminent research libraries. She has been the steward of enormous collections of critical importance both as Director of the Bodleian Libraries and Vice President for the Harvard Library. Her experience and knowledge will be invaluable as we progress plans for our new state-of-the-art collections and research facility at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus. The Board and I are delighted to welcome her as Trustee and look forward to working with her.”

Dr Thomas held the positions of Vice President for the Harvard Library and University Librarian of Harvard University from 2013 to 2019. From 2007 to 2013 she was Director of the Bodleian Libraries and the first woman and non-British citizen to hold the position of Bodley's Librarian in the Bodleian's 400-year history.

Her achievements at the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library include: the construction of a new book storage and the transfer of some nine million books, journals, maps, and other archival materials; an £80 million visionary transformation of the New Bodleian into the Weston Library, which opened in 2014; extensive digitisation of collections; and many other significant improvements in library provision for users inside and outside the University.

During her tenure at Harvard University, Dr Thomas leveraged partnerships with major research libraries to expand expedited collection-sharing of 90 million books, reducing the campus footprint and liberating space for other university priorities. She revolutionised collecting and collections storage at Harvard by partnering with three major research libraries (Columbia, New York Public Library, and Princeton) to move beyond shared storage to shared print collections. She developed diverse teams known for creativity, innovation, and positive results and led the successful transition of the newly formed Harvard Library from a segmented organisation into a healthy collaborative with shared strategies and common policies.

She was University Librarian at Cornell University from 1996 until 2007 and has held positions at the Johns Hopkins University, the Research Libraries Group (Stanford, CA), the National Agricultural Library, and the Library of Congress. Dr Thomas is a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Philosophical Society.

She says: “The Natural History Museum is an extraordinary institution with vast collections, deeply knowledgeable researchers and dedicated staff who foster the thrill of discovery and learning.  Museums are benefiting from digital innovation that increases access to the millions of objects in their custody, that connects scholars, the public and the collections in the sharing of information that accelerates the creation of vital knowledge - so critical to address the grand challenges of our times.  I am energised by the exciting possibilities ahead for the Museum under Doug Gurr’s leadership, and I am deeply honoured to be appointed as a Trustee for this venerable institution.”

The new appointee joins the other current members of the Board of Trustees: Chair - The Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint; Prof Sir John Beddington; Dame Frances Cairncross; Hilary Newiss; Robert Noel; Simon Patterson; Prof Sir Stephen Sparks; Prof Dame Janet Thornton, Prof Yadvinder Malhi CBE, Harris Bokhari OBE and Dr Kim L Winser OBE.


Notes for editors

For more information on the Museum’s governance and Trustees please visit the Natural History Museum’s Website: www.nhm.ac.uk/about-us/governance.html

Natural History Media contact: Tel: +44 (0)20 7942 5654/ (0)779 969 0151 Email: press@nhm.ac.uk

About the Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum is both a world-leading science research centre and the most-visited natural history museum in Europe. With a vision of a future in which both people and the planet thrive, it is uniquely positioned to be a powerful champion for balancing humanity’s needs with those of the natural world.

It is custodian of one of the world’s most important scientific collections comprising over 80 million specimens. The scale of this collection enables researchers from all over the world to document how species have and continue to respond to environmental changes - which is vital in helping predict what might happen in the future and informing future policies and plans to help the planet.

The Museum’s 300 scientists continue to represent one of the largest groups in the world studying and enabling research into every aspect of the natural world. Their science is contributing critical data to help the global fight to save the future of the planet from the major threats of climate change and biodiversity loss through to finding solutions such as the sustainable extraction of natural resources.

The Museum uses its enormous global reach and influence to meet its mission to create advocates for the planet - to inform, inspire and empower everyone to make a difference for nature. We welcome over five million visitors each year; our digital output reaches hundreds of thousands of people in over 200 countries each month and our touring exhibitions have been seen by around 30 million people in the last 10 years.