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Gail Kern Paster's Major Achievements as Director

Paster's initiatives have emphasized four goals: strengthening of the educational mission; increasing access and outreach, particularly through digital initiatives; modernizing the library's physical infrastructure; and building on the library's already strong development and financial management efforts.


Strengthening of Educational Mission
• Increasing collection acquisitions to a record level, with more than 14,000 new and rare books, manuscripts, engravings, and other materials worth more than $5 million added since 2002.
• Formed new K-12 Education division, replacing former department; Shakespeare at School program on Capitol Hill, new Folger teacher mini-workshops across the country, first national Teaching Shakespeare conference for elementary school teachers
• Created the Folger’s first seminar program for undergraduate students
• Expanding scholarly activities, with endowment of two long-term fellowships
• Folger Institute members reach record numbers
• Completion of a twenty-year scholarly effort producing the Folger Shakespeare editions, the #1 Shakespeare text in American classrooms; produced first Folger DVD edition, Macbeth text plus film of Folger Theatre’s 2008 production


Expanding Access and Outreach
• Launched digital initiatives to expand access to the collection, including new 35,000 digital image database available online to the public and the Picturing Shakespeare database of newly cataloged images from Folger collection
• The Shakespeare Quartos Archive, a transatlantic collaboration between six institutions in the US and UK led by the Folger, makes digitized copies of rare early editions of Shakespeare’s Hamlet available for the first time in a single online collection
• Attendance at Folger public programs (exhibitions, theater, music, readings, lectures) increased by 25 percent while the number of events rose by 15%; new lecture series, Words on Will
• Folger Theatre productions earn eight Helen Hayes Awards and 37 nominations; in last seven seasons, the Folger has received five nominations for outstanding resident play and won once (Measure for Measure)
• Funding major cataloging of the collection, including the entire manuscript collection, the Shakespeare art collection, and the David Garrick collection
• Media initiatives, including a three-hour radio documentary on Shakespeare in American Life narrated by Sam Waterston and broadcast on PRI stations worldwide; Love's Labor, an award-winning short film on the founding of the Folger; audio and video podcasts; and social media
• Construction of a state-of-the-art video and television production facility on-site in partnership with Alabama Public Television
• Major cross-disciplinary, multi-division Folger projects on Elizabeth I, Shakespeare impresario David Garrick, Shakespeare in American Life, The Second Shepherds’ Play, China, Henry VIII (Fall 2010), and in 2011, the King James Bible
• Publication of a facsimile of The Trevelyon Miscellany of 1608, one of the great treasures of the Folger collection


Building and Infrastructure
• Significant improvements to the main building and grounds, including re-sealing the vault—inside and out—and completion of the Babette Craven Art Vault
• Construction of the library’s first digital photography lab
• Completion of the state-of-the-art Gundersheimer Conservation Laboratory
• Installation of eight statues inspired by Shakespeare’s plays by sculptor Greg Wyatt
• Conservation of the Seven Ages of Man stained-glass window in the Old Reading Room and restoration of woodwork in the Elizabethan Theatre
• Upgrading fire and security systems, modernizing office space, and installation of compact shelving to ensuring adequate collection storage space for the next 25 years


Governance, Development, and Financial Stewardship
• Raised a record $28 million overall, including federal appropriations, during tenure as director; 75th-anniversary development campaign, including creation of the Diamond Club, broke Folger records for fundraising
• Independent Board of Governors to administer the Folger under the auspices of Amherst College, founder Henry Folger's alma mater
• Newly endowed long-term fellowships and position of Librarian
• Financial stewardship during the economic downturn with no staff layoffs or reductions in programs or services

Children's Shakespeare Festival

Book of magic: with instructions for invoking spirits (Detail). Manuscript, circa 1580

Paster Reading Room

Measure for Measure

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