GIA Library Director Dona Dirlam Retires
Dona Dirlam, director of Gemological Institute of America’s (GIA’s) Library and Information Center, retired on August 25th after 38 years of service. She was largely responsible for establishing and expanding the Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library and Information Center, now the world’s leading resource centre for gems, gemmology and jewellery. Dirlam’s successor will be Robert Weldon, who has been manager of photography and visual communications for GIA since 2006.
Dirlam has long been recognised for her innovation and contributions to the industry. She received the Outstanding Gemologist Award from the Association of Women Gemologists in 1989 and GIA’s Staff of the Year award in 1991. In 2004 she received GIA’s highest honour, the Richard T. Liddicoat Distinguished Achievement Award. In 2015 she received the Accredited Gemologists Association Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2016 was honoured with the Women’s Jewelry Association’s Award for Excellence in Special Services. She has co-authored more than a dozen articles for GIA’s quarterly professional journal Gems & Gemology (G&G), five of which received a G&G Most Valuable Article award.
Over Dirlam’s tenure she expanded the collection to more than 57,000 books, 700 journal and magazine titles, 198,000 digital images and 1,800 video recordings. With the addition of the 14,000-volume John & Marjorie Sinkankas Gemological Library in 1987 and the creation of the Cartier Rare Book Repository & Archives in 1998, she has helped build the world’s largest library for information on gems and jewellery. Her commitment to providing greater access to GIA’s rare books led to a significant project to digitise the collection’s rarest holdings and make them available for free to the public and global gem industry. Since the project launched in 2015, more than 300 books have been scanned and are available at https://archive. org/details/gialibrary
“Dona’s groundbreaking efforts on behalf of the Institute’s research, education, and outreach capabilities have kept GIA at the forefront of gemmological scholarship,” said Susan Jacques, president and CEO of GIA.
“Cultivating our library’s collection and creating accessibility for the public has been the library’s main goal,” said Dirlam. “It takes dedicated individuals to handle the projects that come through our door and for that I am honoured to have worked with a phenomenal team. What we have accomplished in the past decades will continue under the leadership of Robert Weldon.”
Weldon assumed responsibilities as library director on Dirlam’s retirement. He plans to carry on Dirlam’s legacy of expanding GIA’s collection and making it available to students, the trade and the public.
Dona Dirlam, here thumbing through volumes from GIA’s rare book archives, built the Liddicoat Library and Information Center into the largest, most comprehensive resource of its type in the world. Photo: Michael Justice © GIA
Robert Weldon is named director of the Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library and Information Centre. Photo: Judy Colbert/GIA © GIA