Ann Wolpert, 70

Fri, 11/15/2013 - 5:48pm

By Nate Nickerson, MIT News

Ann Wolpert, director of libraries at Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1996, has died after a brief illness. She was 70 years old. Wolpert is survived by her husband, Samuel A. Otis Jr., and a large extended family. Wolpert and her husband owned a home on Cooneymus Road, Block Island for many years.

Wolpert was a pioneer in digital stewardship, bringing to the MIT community a deep understanding of scholarship, of research, and of the library’s broader mission to preserve and disseminate knowledge. Under her leadership, the MIT Libraries developed DSpace, a milestone in digital libraries that catalyzed the institutional repository movement.

Wolpert began work at MIT just as the internet was emerging, and her tenure was marked by her passionate response to the opportunity and upheaval that resulted for research libraries. In scientific, research, and university communities around the world, a debate, still unresolved, came to the fore: how the decades-old system of peer-reviewed scholarly journals ought to operate in the digital world.

Hal Abelson, the Class of 1922 Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at MIT and founding director of both Creative Commons and the Free Software Foundation, remembers Wolpert as “one of the great intellectual leaders at MIT.” She fused, he says, a mix of business experience from her earlier career with serious academic curiosity and integrity. “Ann was funny, warm, caring, and remarkably fair,” Abelson says.

Wolpert received a BA from Boston University and an MLS from Simmons College.

Gifts in memory of Ann Wolpert may be made to MIT for the Ann J. Wolpert Strategic Initiatives Fund to support the MIT Libraries. Contact Bonny Kellermann ‘72, Director of Memorial Gifts, at, for details.

An MIT memorial service has been planned for Jan. 31, 2014 at 3 p.m; location to be determined. The service will be open to the academic and professional community both locally and nationally.

Reprinted with permission from MIT News.