Karen Estlund, PhD, is the Dean of Libraries for Colorado State University Libraries. She began in this role in December 2019. The Colorado State University Libraries launched their strategic plan in summer 2021 and articulated the role of librarians and librarianship within CSU’s Principles of Community.

During the review of Karen’s second year as a dean at CSU, Libraries employees evaluated Karen’s leadership (~50% response rate) with described Karen as “data-driven,” “inclusive,” and “visionary.” CSU Libraries employees see Karen as:

  • 100% strongly agree (SA)/agree (A): committed to DEI both across campus and internally
  • 96% (SA/A) effectively representing and advocating for the libraries at the administrative level
  • 90% (SA/A) transparent in communications
  • 93% (SA/A) effectively managing library finances
  • 86% (SA/A) committed to creating a clear and shared vision for the library

Previously, Karen Estlund was the Associate Dean for Technology and Digital Strategies for Penn State Libraries where she provided leadership and advocacy for information technology, digital initiatives, cataloging and metadata services, publishing and curation services, and coordinated collaborations with the Penn State University Press. Karen coordinated relationships with the research and high-performance computing center, Penn State IT, and the Office of the Vice President for Research. She coordinated cross-university collaboration on research data management, oversaw the creation of a user-oriented library search interface, led technology units and services to target library-specific IT needs, and collaborated with faculty and leaders across the university to found the Center for Immersive Experiences and Center for Black Digital Research. 

During her time at Penn State she also acted in interim roles as the Associate Dean for Research, Collections, and Scholarly Communications, in which she co-led university-wide efforts in the successful passage of an Open Access policy through University Faculty Senate, and Associate Dean for Learning and Undergraduate Services, in which she directed an aspirational comparator project for assessment of library services and resources. 

Prior to Penn State, Karen served as the head of the Digital Scholarship Center and directed the Oregon Digital Newspaper Program at the University of Oregon, where she supported the publication of digital editions the Oregon Petrarch Open Book project, Archaeology and Landscape in the Mongolian Altai, and We Are the Face of Oaxaca and oversaw the library’s journal publishing and repository programs. Karen was a founding journal editorial board member of an open access, open peer review multi-modal journal, Ada: a Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology.

Karen has served on multiple open access and open source governance groups, including: SPARC steering, the coordinating committee for IIIF (International Image Interoperability Framework), Fedora Leaders, Samvera (formerly Hydra) Steering Group, and the technical committee.