New Head Librarian Will Lead UCSF Library into the Future

By Kate Vidinsky

students study in the UCSF library
UCSF’s library, which has implemented resources and services that continue to meet the dynamic needs of the UCSF community, has hired a new head librarian to lead it into the future. Photo by Steve Babuljak

The UC San Francisco library, one of the preeminent health sciences libraries in the world, will usher in an exciting new chapter when it this summer welcomes Christopher “Chris” Shaffer, MS, AHIP, as university librarian and assistant vice chancellor.

Christopher Shaffer
Christopher Shaffer, MS, AHIP

Shaffer, who officially joins UCSF on Aug. 1, brings both the necessary experience to make for a smooth transition, and the energizing vision to propel the library toward its long-term goals. Goals that – as Shaffer sees it – start and end with a dedicated and engaged community.

“The thing that excites me most about this position is all of the incredibly smart and committed people I met during the interview process, and all those I have yet to meet,” Shaffer said. “One of the things I’ve most enjoyed about working at academic health centers is the opportunity to collaborate with people who challenge me daily with hard questions and engage in real dialogue.”

Prepared to Lead

Shaffer has spent the bulk of his career at multidisciplinary health centers, including the University of Iowa and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), where, for the past eight years, he has held the position of university librarian and associate professor.

At OHSU, Shaffer positioned the library as an integral partner in the overall success of the institution’s research and clinical enterprises. He recruited and mentored librarians to be active partners in the educational endeavors on-campus and proactively extended library services to meet the needs of all faculty, staff and students.

two students talk in UCSF's library
The UCSF library has become a place for collaboration to advance teaching and learning. Photo by Elisabeth Fall 

Notably, Shaffer also oversaw OHSU’s highly successful Ontology Development Group, which promotes research innovations, service development and education through semantically enabled technologies. This initiative has improved data management and publication, research reproducibility, and the building of new tools for biomedical data exploration.

“I am confident that Chris’ vision for the future of libraries coupled with his well-rounded experience and perspectives across UCSF’s research, clinical, education, and public service missions position him well for success as a strong leader and advocate for the UCSF Library – especially during this time of re-envisioning the future of our Parnassus campus,” said Daniel Lowenstein, MD, UCSF executive vice chancellor and provost. 

Cultivating Dynamic Learning Environments

The UCSF Library is the University’s heart of information gathering, organizing and sharing, offering an expansive digital and physical collection of the world’s health sciences knowledge base, along with a premier collection of historical documents and medical artifacts.

This is an especially exciting time for libraries as we continue to expand the boundaries of what a library can be in this post-digital era.

Jim Munson, UCSF Library Director of Operations

In recent years, the library has been a leader and collaborator in implementing resources and services that continue to meet the dynamic needs of the UCSF community. From the vibrant and welcoming café in the Parnassus Library, to multimedia workstations in the Tech Commons, and a newly launched Makers Lab, the library is cultivating environments that advance science, promote health, and innovate in teaching, learning and collaboration.

“I am very excited about Chris Shaffer coming to lead the UCSF Library. He’s a rock star in the health sciences library world, and he will no doubt push us all forward to serve the UCSF community in new and exciting ways,” said Jim Munson, the library’s director of operations and finance and current interim director. “This is an especially exciting time for libraries as we continue to expand the boundaries of what a library can be in this post-digital era.”

Community as the Guiding Principle

Shaffer looks forward to leading the library in further initiatives that will benefit the evolving needs of the UCSF community and ultimately improve care worldwide.

“A library can serve the unique role of bringing otherwise siloed groups together and building up a community as a whole,” he said. “Together we will find out where the most impactful technologies and services are so that we can successfully implement them and, of course, have some fun along the way.”

For more campus news and resources, visit Pulse of UCSF.