PACSCL Appoints the First Female Chair of the Corporation

Philadelphia – May 16, 2022 

The Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries, Inc. (PACSCL) held its first in-person Annual General Meeting (AGM) since 2019 on May 4, 2022 at the Wagner Free Institute of Science. 

At the meeting, Will Noel, Ph.D., Chair of PACSCL and the John T. Maltsberger III ’55 Associate University Librarian for Rare Books and Special Collections at Princeton University, announced his retirement as Chair of PACSCL just shy of completing his first term. 

Beth Hessel, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, was appointed to serve out the remaining months of Noel’s term.  She will stand for election by the Board of Directors for a full three-year term at the June 2022 Board meeting. 

Dr. Hessel serves as the first female Chair of PACSCL since its incorporation in 1993. Upon her appointment, Dr. Hessel stated that “PACSCL has ably served special collections libraries in the greater Philadelphia area for nearly thirty years and is poised to expand and strengthen the visibility and accessibility of those collections. I am honored to partner with Beth Lander, PACSCL Managing Director, fellow Board Directors, and the membership of the consortium in helping PACSCL achieve our ambitious strategic plan.” 

Dr. Hessel has been the Executive Director of the Athenaeum since July 2019.  Prior to joining the Athenaeum, Dr. Hessel served as the Executive Director of the Presbyterian Historical Society. 

Dr. Hessel received a B.A. in History from the University of California, Davis; an M.A. in U.S. Women’s History from Binghamton University; an M.Div. from the San Francisco Theological Seminary; and a Ph.D. in History from Texas Christian University. 

Dr. Noel, who led PACSCL through a transitional period that resulted in the hiring of a full-time Managing Director, noted that “It was great to be part of a team that led PACSCL through a period of transition.  We now have a full-time Managing Director, a secure financial footing, and an expanded board with a clear sense of mission.  I am absolutely delighted to be leaving PACSCL in such a strong position to shape the future of collaboration among special collections big and small in the Delaware Valley.”

Dr. Noel was celebrated for his contributions to PACSCL.  As a member representative from the University of Pennsylvania, Noel contributed significantly to PACSCL’s first large-scale digitization project, Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis.  After Noel joined the Board of Directors, PACSCL engaged in two other digitization projects – In Her Own Right and For the Health of the New Nation – as well as the groundbreaking project Chronicling Resistance