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Stephen Town's retirement

Posted on 23 September 2015

This week, we say goodbye to Stephen Town, University Librarian and Director of Information. His departure was marked with a presentation and farewell party last week, and with the renaming by Dr David Duncan of seminar rooms 204-5 in the Fairhurst Building, now known as The Stephen Town Seminar Rooms.

Great libraries have always transcended their parent organizations, not just by physical presence or through collections and service but also in more subtle contributions to education, research, and scholarship.

Stephen Town

Born in Sheffield in 1954, Stephen attended Harrogate Grammar School before reading Natural Sciences at Pembroke College, Cambridge. After graduation, he worked at Salford University Library and then completed a postgraduate diploma in Library and Information Studies at Loughborough.

Following six years as a medical librarian at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Stephen became Director of Information Services at Cranfield University, where he managed Library, IT and Media Services, and was responsible for major e-learning projects for the Ministry of Defence. He was appointed University Librarian at York in 2007, and became Director of Information in 2009, with responsibility for Library, Archives and IT Services.

Photo of Stephen Town, University Librarian and Director of Information

He championed a number of innovations at York, including the use of internationally benchmarked satisfaction surveys. During his tenure he oversaw a £20m library refurbishment, 24/7 library opening and the rollout of Google Apps for Education. This focus on quality and innovation resulted in the Directorate achieving the Customer Service Excellence Award, and its best ever results in the National Student Survey for Library and IT.

Stephen has an international reputation for his work on performance measurement and service quality, and was instrumental in bringing the LibQUAL+ survey to the UK. He has convened three international conferences, sits on the board of several journals and has also taught and worked as an external examiner. Stephen will be remembered as a friendly, supportive and approachable leader, with a strong commitment to excellent service.

In the year leading up to his retirement, Stephen selected an eclectic range of books to donate to the Library, covering subjects including local history, gardening, art, popular science, music and travel. He wrote a blog post about each book as they were given:

These books can be found in the Library and explored online in a digital bookshelf:

Stephen’s plans for his retirement include hillwalking in Scotland and in Italy, continuing to work on his PhD, writing, and carrying out consultancy work focusing on service quality. We wish him, and his wife Carol, all the best.

Heidi Fraser-Krauss, who is currently Deputy Director of Information and Head of IT Services, has been appointed to replace Stephen and will take on her new role on 1 October.