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Updated 5:30 PM January 20, 2005




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Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum lands new director

Elaine K. Didier, U-M alumna and former associate dean of the Rackham School of Graduate Studies. has been named director of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum.

Didier (Photo courtesy Elaine Didier)

Didier, also former dean of the Kresge Library at Oakland University, began her duties last week. She succeeded Dennis Daellenbach who retired Jan. 1. The library is located on the University’s North Campus.

“I’m delighted to be selected for this position,” Didier says. “The field of presidential libraries is fascinating for its trove of documents, artifacts and other materials.”

U.S. Archivist John Carlin praised Didier as someone with a “wealth of experience as a leader in higher education in Michigan and as an executive leader facilitating outreach and alliances in support of learning programs.”

Carlin also said he was impressed with Didier’s ideas on how to use today’s technology to expand educational outreach efforts at the library and museum.

President Ford said, “I am tremendously pleased by the archivist’s decision to name Elaine Didier as the new library director. She has the energy, experience and enthusiasm to sustain and enhance the progress that’s been made at the library and museum. I am particularly pleased by her interest in partnering with civic leaders and the academic and business communities in Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and the region to provide new opportunities for educational programming.”

Didier says one of her goals is to strengthen relationships with various U-M units and to encourage joint programming and greater use of the library. She also plans to enhance the Web site to facilitate distance learning and research.

“I want to increase the library and museum’s visibility because these are national treasures,” Didier says. “We want people to know what we have and who we are, so they will appreciate the legacy of President Ford.”

Didier served in a number of positions at U-M from 1977-99, including interim director of academic outreach, associate dean of Rackham and director of information resources at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. She also has served as adjunct associate professor for the School of Information and director of the Erasmus/Michigan Master of Business Informatics Program.

A past president of the Michigan Library Association, she currently is serving as an elected member to the executive board of the Association of College and Research Libraries. She represents the association on the American Library Association Council. Appointed by then-Gov. John Engler to the Library of Michigan Board in 2001, she was elected to chair the board for 2003-04.

Didier earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoraral degrees from U-M and studied at the University of Oxford.

The Ford Library, part of the presidential libraries system administered by the National Archives and Records Administration, is unlike other presidential libraries, which typically feature a museum at the same location. The museum, which has 11 employees, is in Grand Rapids, the president’s hometown.

Didier plans to collaborate with the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University. She also hopes to develop partnerships with other colleges and universities and K-12 schools.

The library features more than 21 million pages of memos, letters, diplomatic cables, meeting notes, reports and other historical documents located in the 41,000-square-foot building. Materials also include photographs, videotapes of news broadcasts, audiotapes of speeches and press briefings, film of public events, and televised campaign commercials.

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