Arts Desk

Gail Kern Paster, Director of Folger Shakespeare Library, to Step Down Next Year

Gail Kern Paster, who has run the Folger Shakespeare Library for the past eight years, will retire next year, Jaqueline Trescott reports in today's WaPo. Writing to the Folger's e-mail list, Paster said her last day will be July 1, 2011. From the Post story:

In her eight years at the Folger, Paster has acquired increasingly rare documents of the Elizabethan era; raised millions of dollars, despite the recession, for the historic building and collections; and overseen the inevitable march to digitization.
What Paster didn't expect was having to supervise the rescue of thousands of priceless volumes when a major leak occurred in the rare book spaces in August 2002, a month after her arrival. Some 900 boxes of books had to be relocated, including 28,000 volumes to Amherst College.

In her eight years at the Folger, Paster has acquired increasingly rare documents of the Elizabethan era; raised millions of dollars, despite the recession, for the historic building and collections; and overseen the inevitable march to digitization.

What Paster didn't expect was having to supervise the rescue of thousands of priceless volumes when a major leak occurred in the rare book spaces in August 2002, a month after her arrival. Some 900 boxes of books had to be relocated, including 28,000 volumes to Amherst College.

The library completed a new, waterproof vault for rare books in 2004.

According to the Post, Paster leaves the library in decent shape: During the recession Paster trimmed the institution's budget but maintained its staff; over her directorship the library has raised $28 million.

A Shakespeare scholar who spent much of her career teaching at George Washington University, Paster will return to her research. She has little patience for those who question the authorship of Shakespeare's works. “There are enough contemporary accounts of Shakespeare the actor and playwright to persuade anyone but conspiracy theorists," she told Examiner.com in 2008. "I think it matters a lot to give credit to the producer of this body of work.”

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  • CandiceMK

    I'd like to know how Paster would respond to the challenges raised in this entertaining piece about the Shakespeare authorship question: http://www.itsasickness.com/lounge/joe-plummer-obsessed-shakespeare-controversy. I think there's enough holes in the historical documentation regarding Shakespeare to make a compelling case for a couple of the people mentioned in the video, most notably Christopher Marlowe and Francis Bacon.

  • Howard Schumann

    The fact that some works were published under the attribute of William Shakespeare does not identify the man behind the name. There is nothing in his handwriting ever discovered except for six almost illegible signatures. There are no letters, no correspondence, no manuscripts, no paper trail at all to identify the man behind the name, not a single word. Huckleberry Finn was published under the name of Mark Twain but there is nothing to identify him as Samuel Clemens. When contemporaries refer to William Shakespeare, they are referring to the name on the title page and nothing else.

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