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UCR’s University Librarian to Retire; Interim Librarian Named

UCR’s University Librarian to Retire; Interim Librarian Named

(December 19, 2001)

After nearly 16 years at the Helm of the library at the University of California, Riverside, James Thompson will retire effective Jan. 2, 2001. Assistant University Librarian Venita Jorgensen will serve in the top spot on an interim basis until UCR officials find a successor to Thompson. His last day at work will be Dec. 24.

Thompson oversaw some of the most dynamic changes at UCR’s library – changes marked by the need to meet campus growth and the need to modernize. Some of the UCR Library’s automation innovations, such as the web-based resource Infomine, were later adopted by other libraries and have gained worldwide acclaim.

“I’ve been fortunate in that, at UCR, we have an excellent (library) staff with a lot of technical expertise who have the initiative to undertake new projects without having to be told to do them,” Thompson said.

Some highlights of Thompson’s tenure include the replacement in 1998 of the old Bio-Agricultural and Physical Sciences Library building with the four-story, 85,000-square-foot structure used today. Construction on the Science Library took 2 ½ years and cost $29.7 million.

Under his watch, an $18 million renovation of the Tomás Rivera Library renovation was completed. He presided over a partnership with the Riverside County Office of Education to bring the Internet to Riverside’s primary and secondary schools. Thompson also secured funding for the computerization of the library’s card catalogue, promoted development of the California Digital Library and brought the library’s collections past the 2-million-volume level.

“It’s by no means the largest collection, but for its size, it’s the best in terms of meeting the needs of faculty and the students,” Thompson said.

Longtime UCR librarian Venita Jorgensen will become the interim University Librarian, said Executive Vice Chancellor David Warren.

Jorgensen came to UCR in 1968 as a Reference Librarian and filled a number of positions, including as Monographic Cataloger, History Bibliographer, Arid Lands Librarian and as head of Interlibrary Loans. Since 1995, Jorgensen has served as Assistant University Librarian for Public Services at the Rivera Library.

“Ms. Jorgensen’s considerable experience and knowledge of the library will place UCR in a strong position to move forward as we face the challenging months ahead,” Warren wrote to UCR faculty and staff.

Jorgensen received her bachelor’s degree from UC Santa Barbara in 1967. She received her master’s degree in library science from UCLA in 1968.

Thompson holds master’s degrees in library science and English, both from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He received his bachelor’s degree in English from Princeton University.

He was recruited from Rice University in Houston, Texas in 1986 in no small part because of his wealth of understanding of the research process; a management style both sophisticated and which cut bureaucracy; and first-hand knowledge of ongoing technical developments.

Thompson and his wife, Jean Swanson (acting director of the University of Redlands Library) plan eventually to retire to the Isle of Orkney, off the northern tip of Scotland, where they have vacationed annually for the past decade.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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