Digital Resource Expert Takes Helm at Library

Dr. Ellen Derey Safley, an authority on emerging library technologies and digitizing print collections, has been named the new director of the UT Dallas Eugene McDermott Library.

Safley succeeds Dr. Sheila Amin Gutiérrez de Piñeres, dean of Undergraduate Education, who had been serving as the chief administrator of the library on an interim basis since Dr. Larry Sall retired in February. Safley assumed her new role December 1.

Executive Vice President and Provost Hobson Wildenthal noted Safley’s outstanding qualifications for her new role.

“Dr. Safley’s deep and comprehensive knowledge of the people and operations of our library, based on her 25 years of service in progressively more important administrative roles, makes her the ideal appointment to assume responsibilities at this critical time in the University’s life,” Wildenthal said. “UT Dallas is growing both in size and complexity, while at the same time the financial support of University activities by the state is under serious threat.  The library has always been a critically vital foundation of a great university, and as UT Dallas marshals its resources to ascend to Tier One status, the McDermott Library will be of central importance.”

“Along with major developments in UT Dallas and in the financing of higher education, libraries worldwide are dealing with the immense opportunities and challenges created by the emergence of the digital information age,” Wildenthal said. “Fortunately, under the leadership of Dr. Sall, and with the key assistance of Dr. Safley, the McDermott Library is in the forefront of providing students and faculties with the advantages and efficiencies created by the digital and internet revolutions.  As an expert in this area, Dr. Safley was the ideal choice to continue and further advance our library’s exploitation of modern technology to better serve research and education while concurrently achieving significant operational efficiencies.”

Under Safley’s leadership during the last several years, the Eugene McDermott Library developed capabilities that dramatically changed the magnitude and nature of library resources. Since 2009, electronic journals have increased from 28,388 to 46,826, and electronic books jumped from 593,106 to 970,190. Safley recently oversaw digitization of 2,290 University theses and dissertations.

“I believe in a hybrid library,” Safley said. “We cannot be effective without a combination of print and digital resources. Keeping a balance is imperative for an efficient major research library.”

“In the short, highly enjoyable time I spent leading the library, I often observed how much the library community, both regionally and nationally, respected Dr. Safley,” Dr. Piñeres said. “It was an honor to work with her and the rest of the library staff.  I look forward to working in the future with Dr. Safley to develop new and innovative ways for the library to enhance undergraduate education.”

Safley’s research interests include organizational development, the creation of digital and mobile libraries, assessment of library services and collections, and the delivery of quality customer service.

“Another important element is space for study and research as well as for the collections,” Safley said. “It is with the human touch of exceptional customer service, as well as with the assistance of emerging technologies, that our organization confidently moves into the next phase of academic research libraries.”

Safley joined UT Dallas in 1983 as the government documents reference librarian and subsequently served as the head of reference and information services. She later became the assistant director for reference services and collection management, then the associate library director for public services, collections and systems, until being promoted to senior associate director.

She serves on the University’s Academic Integrity Committee and the Faculty Library Committee. In 2008, Safley coordinated the library’s portion of Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) reaffirmation of accreditation. She has held numerous national committee positions with the American Library Association and the Texas Library Association.

In 2007, Safley was a member of the prestigious UCLA Senior Fellows leadership program and is a member of the current class of Leadership Richardson.  She received a master’s degree in 1989 and a doctorate in 1996, both in political economy from the UT Dallas School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences. Safley obtained a master of library science degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1979. She also has a master of arts in anthropology from Pennsylvania State University and a bachelor of arts in anthropology from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

“I believe in a hybrid library,” Dr. Ellen Derey Safley said. “We cannot be effective without a combination of print and digital resources. Keeping a balance is imperative for an efficient major research library.”



Growth in Library Holdings

Since opening in fall 1975, the McDermott Library has been dedicated to supporting the curriculum and research of the University. The library has become a hybrid of paper and electronic formats.




Total Volumes (includes digital)






Media (videos, DVDs)



Electronic Books



Electronic Journals



New Holdings (Fiscal 2009-10)



Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].