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The University of Alabama

Gilstrap Named Dean of UA Libraries

Dr. Don Gilstrap

Dr. Don Gilstrap

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Dr. Donald L. Gilstrap, dean and professor of University Libraries at Wichita State University, has been named dean of the University Libraries at The University of Alabama.

The appointment is effective Jan. 4, 2016, said Dr. Kevin Whitaker, UA’s interim provost, in making the announcement.

Gilstrap has 20 years of experience in academic libraries, including the University of Oklahoma, the University of Connecticut, Southwestern Oklahoma State University and the Connecticut Community College System.  He has served as the chief administrative officer of the main and branch libraries, as well as special collections, for Wichita State since 2011, and he also serves as a professor of educational leadership at WSU.

“Libraries are central to our academic mission,” Whitaker said. “Dr. Gilstrap demonstrates a proven track record in library leadership, and we’re pleased to soon welcome him to campus.”

In his new role at UA, Gilstrap will oversee the Angelo Bruno Business Library, the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library, the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library, the McLure Education Library and the Eric and Sarah Rodgers Library for Science and Engineering, as well as the A. S. Williams III Americana Collection, the Alabama Digital Humanities Center and the Sanford Media Center.

With collections of 4 million volumes, the UA Libraries saw more than 1.7 million visits made to buildings last year by students and faculty and more than 1.4 million visits were made to the libraries’ website, resulting in more than 69 million database searches at

“I am honored to be selected to lead the libraries at The University of Alabama,” Gilstrap said.  “This is a very exciting time to be at the University, and I look forward to working with exceptional staff and librarians in advancing teaching, research and learning initiatives for the University community.”

Gilstrap holds undergraduate degrees in both French and history, as well as master’s degrees in both library science and history, from Emporia State University. He holds a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from the University of Oklahoma.

As dean of one of the three research libraries in Kansas, Gilstrap oversaw the remodeling of the main library, construction of state-of-the-art student spaces and increased fundraising revenues. He led digitization initiatives for Special Collections’ rare books and manuscripts and increased library collection holdings.

Most recently, Gilstrap constructed an emerging technologies innovation zone within the main library and was a founding member of the D4 Federation of University Research.  He is known for his research nationally on information literacy and assessment, as well as organizational dynamics, and he is an active member nationally in the Association of College & Research Libraries and the American Educational Research Association.

Before joining Wichita State University, Gilstrap was associate dean of libraries for technical services at the University of Oklahoma. While there, he led the implementation of the library’s discovery layer search interface, the university’s institutional repository, the digital media program and wide-scale digitization initiatives for Special Collections.

He also served at the national level in the Center for Research Libraries and the Greater Western Library Alliance.

Gilstrap will replace Dr. Louis A. Pitschmann, who is retiring after serving as dean since 2001.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.