GIA Li­brary Di­rec­tor Dona Dir­lam Re­tires

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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

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