Linda Hall Library exterior armillary sphere

Lisa Browar to Retire as Linda Hall Library President after 15 Years

Lisa M. Browar has announced her intention to retire from the Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering & Technology on September 1, 2023, after having served as its president for 15 years.

Under Browar’s leadership, the Linda Hall Library embraced a deep and continuing journey of institutional transformation. Browar worked with the Library’s board of trustees and senior leadership to launch a comprehensive strategic plan to make the Library more accessible to intellectually curious learners in the Kansas City community and beyond. Once known as Kansas City’s “hidden jewel,” the Library is now widely celebrated as the place “Where Science Lives.” Its vastly expanded programming emphasizes the many ways in which science and technology intersect with contemporary life.

Recognized as one of the world’s foremost research libraries devoted to science, engineering and technology, the Linda Hall Library was established 80 years ago through a bequest from the estates of Herbert and Linda Hall for “the use of the people of Kansas City and the public generally.” Through careful stewardship, valuable acquisitions and meticulous collection management, the Halls' bequest now supports a thriving institution containing more than 1 million volumes published in 82 languages and dating back to 1472, devoted to a wide range of scientific subjects. Notable acquisitions during Browar’s tenure include rare volumes written by Marie Curie and Dmitry Mendeleev, and a copy of “An Illustrated Book on Japanese Medicinal Plants, (1830), thought to be the only copy in North America.

“Lisa has provided the Library with extraordinary leadership at a critical moment in its history. She recognized that libraries, like other cultural institutions, must evolve to anticipate and respond to the interests and needs of an informed public,” said Marilyn B. Hebenstreit, chairman of the Library’s board of trustees. “As a result, the Linda Hall Library now promotes a new understanding of the relationships between science, technology and other disciplines, while at the same time building collections that support research and scholarship at all levels. Lisa has charted a path that will be followed for years.”

The Library’s transformation reaches learners of all ages. It includes a research fellowship program that has made Kansas City a destination for an international community of scholars wishing to explore the Library’s rich holdings. The Library also annually sponsors the Kansas City Invention Convention (KCIC) in association with the Henry Ford Museum. KCIC offers STEM teachers throughout the Kansas City area the opportunity to teach an innovation-based curriculum to students in grades 4-12. Participating students design their own inventions aimed at solving real-world problems.

KCIC is just one example of the strategic partnerships that Browar organized. Another is the Linda Hall Library’s participation in the UK-Ukraine Twinning Initiative, an institution-to-institution collaborative model supported by Universities UK International and coordinated by the Cormack Consultancy Group that allows universities, as well as other intellectual organizations and consortia around the world, to support their Ukrainian counterparts.

“I have been extremely fortunate to work with a dedicated board of trustees and talented colleagues. Our efforts to create a Library that will resonate for the next generation of learners reflect the Halls’ powerful philanthropic vision of acquiring and sharing significant intellectual resources with the people of Kansas City and around the world,” said Browar.

In a career spanning 45 years, Browar served in curatorial and administrative positions at Yale University’s Beinecke Library, Vassar College, The New York Public Library, Indiana University and the New School prior to becoming president of the Linda Hall Library. “I cannot imagine a better capstone to my career, which has been devoted to the preservation and use of our shared cultural and intellectual heritage, than the years I spent at the Linda Hall Library,” she said.

In the coming years, Browar plans to travel widely, but Kansas City will remain her home and a place where she will continue to actively engage in community activities. A national search for her successor will begin later this month.