Oral History Collection



Publication Type


Date of Interview



Patricia Meyer


Singapore Management University, SMU, Ruth Pagell, history, university founding, beginnings, university library, library building, academic library, interior design, library space, learning spaces, library services, library collection, National Library Board, outsourced library service, book ordering, book acquisition, research queries, information desk, library training, library instruction, information literacy, faculty engagement, faculty outreach, library management system, subject librarians, course support services, digital library, Paolina Martin, institutional repository, university campus, City Campus, Stamford Road, Howard Hunter, Tan Chin Tiong, PYXIS, Collaborative Study Area, event space, quiet space, Postgraduate Suite, recruitment, presentation skills, self-motivated, electronic library resources, service orientation, personalized service, library cooperation, consortia, American-style education


The interview covered: first involvement with SMU, new library, city campus, role and responsibilities, academic librarians, research support, digital library, PYXIS, changing role of librarians, challenges.


Founding University Librarian, SMU, 2005–2011

Ruth A. Pagell served as SMU’s first University Librarian from June 2005 until February 2011. During her time at SMU she led the effort to create a 21st century academic library recognised for enabling university research and teaching. She oversaw the implementation of the digital library (PYXIS) and the institutional repository (InK), and the development of the oral history site. After leaving SMU in February 2011, she moved to Hawaii and is presently adjunct faculty, Library and Information Science Programme at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Her academic library career began in 1978 at Drexel University (USA). In 1981, she moved across the street to work at the Lippincott Library of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, rising to the rank of associate director. In 1994, she joined Emory University as executive director of the Goizueta Business Library. In 2005, in her final year at Emory, Ruth Pagell also acted as coordinator of Emory Libraries’ executive strategy group.

From 1988 to 1989, Ruth Pagell was seconded by the American Library Association and the then United States Information Agency to work at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) in Thailand, to raise awareness of new library possibilities for AIT and the Thai library community.

Ruth Pagell has published numerous articles on business research and library issues. With Michael Halperin, she published two editions of “International Business Information: How to Find It, How to Use It" (1994, 1997). She has taught graduate courses for Drexel's College of Information Studies, School of Library and Information Studies at Clark Atlanta University, The Wharton Evening School, and the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication & Information at Nanyang Technological University. She has taught short courses in business research around the world.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and psychology from Tufts University (USA) and a master in library science and MBA from Drexel University (USA).


Asian Studies | Higher Education | Higher Education Administration | Library and Information Science

Page Numbers



This is an abridged version of the original interview. Please contact Li Ka Shing Library at libIR@smu.edu.sg for access to the full version of the transcript and/or audio recording.

Streaming Inteview