William Noel appointed Associate University Librarian for Special Collections at Princeton University Library

William Noel

William Noel. Photo courtesy of Penn Libraries

William Noel has been appointed as the inaugural John T. Maltsberger III ’55 Associate University Librarian for Special Collections at Princeton University Library (PUL). He joins Princeton from the University of Pennsylvania Libraries where he has been Associate Vice Provost for External Partnerships, Director of the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, and Director of the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies. 

Reporting to the Robert H. Taylor 1930 University Librarian Anne Jarvis and working closely with other members of the Library Leadership Team, Noel will provide vision and expertise in support of PUL’s strategic priorities including the design and implementation of new services and projects that demonstrate the significance of PUL’s world-renowned collections to the scholarly community.

“I am truly delighted that Will is joining PUL,” says Jarvis. “I have every confidence that he will provide exemplary strategic vision and leadership to shape the future of our special collections.” 

PUL’s special collections are extraordinary in both depth and breadth, and range from such singular items as an Egyptian Book of the Dead (circa 1250 BCE) to the papers of the late Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. Special Collections holdings span five millennia and five continents and include nearly 300,000 rare or significant printed works; 30,000 linear feet of textual materials, ranging from cuneiform tablets to contemporary manuscripts, a wealth of prints, drawings, photographs, maps, coins, and other visual materials; Cotsen Children’s Library, the Scheide Library; and Princeton University Archives

“I am thrilled to be joining the Princeton University Library team,” says Noel, “and I look forward to facilitating access locally and globally to Princeton’s truly outstanding collections.”

Before Penn Libraries, Noel was Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books at The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore and Assistant Curator of Manuscripts at The J. Paul Getty Museum. He earned a B.A. in Art History and a Ph.D. in medieval manuscript studies at Cambridge University. Noel was a British Academy Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the Department of History of Art, University of Cambridge; Director of Studies in History of Art, Downing College, University of Cambridge; and has taught at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Rare Book School (University of Virginia).

As a specialist in the fields of Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman manuscripts, Noel directed the ground-breaking digital humanities project: The Digital Archimedes Palimpsest, the world’s first publicly available multi-spectral data set for a medieval manuscript. Based on this project, Noel later co-authored the Neuman Prize-winning book, "The Archimedes Codex: How a Medieval Prayer Book Is Revealing the True Genius of Antiquity’s Greatest Scientist," and presented a TED talk, Revealing The Lost Codex of Archimedes, which has over one million views. A dedicated advocate for “making precious material open and accessible to anyone and everyone who can use them to build knowledge of our world and societies,” he was recognized for his work in the field of open data by receiving a 2013 White House Open Science Champion of Change award from the Obama administration.

“These are exciting times for Princeton’s special collections,” says Jarvis, “and Will’s appointment ensures that we will have the dynamic and innovative leadership we need at this critical juncture.”

Noel will assume his new post on March 1, 2020.

Written by Office of Library Communications

Media contact: Barbara Valenza, Director of Library Communications