Dr. Jim Birchfield will retire from UK Libraries in October. For over three decades he directed the development of an internationally recognized collection of rare books and manuscripts. He became an expert on printing in Kentucky and Kentucky’s literary and cultural heritage. Jim was instrumental in bringing the W. Hugh Peal Collection to UK Libraries and subsequently produced a Catalog of an Exhibition from the W. Hugh Peal Collection. His knowledge and expertise will be impossible to replace.
In addition to his role in Special Collections, Jim also served several years as Assistant Director for Collection Development, managing the collections budget for UK Libraries and directing the growth of UK Libraries’ general collection. He served as Executive Secretary of the Library Associates and editor of The Kentucky Review.
Beyond UK Libraries he served as president of the UK chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, chair of the UK Art Museum Board, a visiting scholar at the University of Rome, and as an elected member of the University Senate. Jim served as guest curator of two major exhibitions at the UK Art Museum as well as others at the Speed Museum in Louisville as well as museums New York and Nantucket.
Jim has prepared innumerable library exhibitions and over fifty seminars in the book arts for the King Library Press. He brought to campus leading figures from the White House, the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, the Pierpont Morgan Library, Castle Howard, Colonial Williamsburg, England, Italy, to name a few.
Jim was elected to membership in the Grolier Club of New York and published Clay Lancaster’s Kentucky with the University Press of Kentucky. He served as president of Clay Lancaster’s Warwick Foundation and served on the boards of the Blue Grass Trust and the Henry Clay Memorial Foundation.