Director Stephen Enniss discusses the future of the Harry Ransom Center


Stephen Enniss, the director of the Harry Ransom Center speaks in a meeting Friday about the museum’s history and his goals for the center’s future. His presentation included going through some of the museum’s recent acquisitions including letters of JD Salinger and papers of British novelist Ian McEwan.

Photo Credit: Sarah Montgomery | Daily Texan Staff

Stephen Enniss, director of the Harry Ransom Center, discussed the future of the on-campus museum and archive center Friday.

Enniss, who previously worked as the head librarian of the Folger Shakespeare Library located in Washington D.C., said he has three objectives to further the mission of the Ransom Center: to continue to augment its already extensive research collection, to lead into the future through digital innovation and to attract and invest in the professional development of its staff.

Outlining his vision for the center’s future, Enniss believes all students would enjoy viewing the collections. 

“I want the Ransom Center to become the archive of choice for the most coveted research collections,” Enniss said. “The Ransom Center’s best days are ahead of it.”

Enniss said the Ransom Center needs to catalog its backlog of acquisitions, transition its collection to digital archives and integrate digital content into reading rooms. Enniss stated that more space is needed to accommodate the growth of the center’s collections.

“We have acute space needs, but we also have space that is not being used efficiently,” Enniss said.

According to Enniss, the backlog was large in scope, but he was unsure of its exact size. 

Emphasizing the existing strength of its research collections, Enniss spoke about some of the recent acquisitions the Ransom Center has made, including the original papers of British novelist Ian McEwan and a collection of Magnum photographs. 

“[McEwan] wanted us to take good care of his work,” Enniss said. “I believe we will be good stewards of his papers.”

Enniss also spoke briefly about the ongoing need for competitive research institute staff. 

“Research colleagues provide an efficient and productive working environment,” Enniss said. “To attract and retain staff, we have to support their professional development.”

History graduate student Joe Parrett found the lecture helpful for understanding the Ransom Center’s future and was excited about the digital expansion of the center. 

“I never knew the vision of the previous director, Thomas Staley,” Parrett said. “I thought [Enniss] did a great job of setting the agenda for the research center.”