Remembering William J. Studer, University Libraries Director from 1977-1999


A black and white photo of William J. Studer in front of Thompson Library

William J. “Bill” Studer, Director of The Ohio State University Libraries for 22 years, passed away on Thursday, October 14, 2021. Bill left an indelible mark on both University Libraries and the larger library profession and will be remembered for his vision and leadership. 

Bill earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at Indiana University and launched his career at the Library of Congress before returning to IU as Associate Dean of Libraries. While there, he conducted research focused on improving service for students and scholars through computer technology. His work garnered him invitations to lead seminars at other universities and informed many of the initiatives he undertook throughout his career.

Bill’s success as Associate Dean of Libraries for IU led to his appointment as Director of Libraries for The Ohio State University Libraries in 1977. Throughout his tenure at Ohio State, Bill championed the growth and development of the Libraries. Under his leadership, University Archives, the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, the Byrd Polar Research Center Archival Program, Hilandar Research Library, and the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute became part of Libraries’ special collections. He oversaw the addition of more than 600 folios to the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library’s medieval manuscript fragment collection, which students and researchers actively use.

Bill championed the idea that active and public use of special collections was at the heart of knowledge creation and sought to promote these unique resources as a way of living Ohio State’s land grant mission.

As a founder of the network of academic libraries that became OhioLINK, Bill continued to push the idea of opening access to knowledge. This statewide consortium provides access to valuable print and digital research collections for students, faculty, researchers, and staff. The model attracted interest from library leaders across the globe.

While he was director, Bill passionately advocated for the renovation of Thompson Library. At his retirement, the University committed to the project. In 2009, the three-year, $109 million renovation was complete and Thompson had been returned to its previous grandeur.

Bill is survived by his children Joshua (Margaret) Studer and Rachel Studer; sisters in law Carol Millsom, Peggy Studer, and Margaret Lippie; numerous nieces and nephews; and faithful feline companions Gigi and Charlie. He was preceded in death by his wife Rosemary (nee Lippie); parents, Victor and Sarah Studer (nee Hammersley); and brothers, Victor Studer and Arnold Studer. Friends and family will be invited to a memorial to celebrate Bill’s life and legacy at a later date.