Our Project Director and Principal Investigator, Birdie MacLennan

With immense sadness, we write to inform of the loss of our Director and Principal Investigator, Birdie MacLennan. Without Birdie’s leadership, expertise, dedication, and passion for Vermont’s history and its historic newspapers, our project would not be the great success that it is today.

Below, we share the announcement made today by the University of Vermont’s Dean of University Libraries and Resources, Mara Saule. Please join us in celebrating Birdie’s life, contributions, and achievements. She will be greatly missed.

Very Best,

Karyn Norwood, Erenst Anip, and Prudence Doherty


It is with great sadness that we share that our colleague, Library Professor Birdie MacLennan, passed away after a brief illness on March 10, 2014.

Birdie began working in the Libraries’ Cataloging Department in 1990, after working at Harvard University and Merrimack College and receiving a Master of Library Sciences from Simmons College. Since 2008, she served as Director of the UVM Libraries’ Resource Description and Analysis Services Department.  Her service to the library profession resulted in widespread recognition from her peers around the world. She was also an active member of the UVM faculty, with many years of service on the Faculty Senate’s Professional Standards Committee.

In 2005 she received a Master of Arts in French from UVM; these studies greatly informed her teaching and scholarship. She was the Libraries’ subject liaison to the Romance Languages department, where her growing proficiencies in French and Italian benefited faculty and students and satisfied her deep intellectual curiosity. Birdie was an accomplished and internationally recognized scholar, with particularly strong ties to Québec. Her in-depth research on the Grande Bibliothèque of Québec resulted in published works on libraries and cultural identity. She was an active member of the Burlington Italian Club and the Alliance Française Lake Champlain Region Chapter.

Birdie leaves behind a powerful and passionate legacy as a steward of Vermont history. Through projects funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, she helped to ensure preservation copies and digital access for Vermont’s historic newspapers. Most recently, she served as Project Director and Principal Investigator for the Vermont Digital Newspaper Project, securing multiple rounds of funding and overseeing the creation of 250,000 pages of digital content, much of which is now available on the Library of Congress Chronicling America website.

Birdie was a devoted colleague and mentor, dedicated to serving students, faculty, staff, and librarians-in-training. She was compassionate, generous, and supportive to all who knew her.  She will be profoundly missed in the faculty and staff of the University Libraries and as a valuable faculty member at the University of Vermont. She is survived by her sister Anne MacLennan Perkins, her niece Dominika Perkins, and her brother-in-law Donald Perkins of Nantucket, Massachusetts.

The Libraries are establishing a fund to further Birdie’s work preserving Vermont’s newspapers and will create a local digital collection in her name. Checks can be made payable to the UVM Foundation and directed to the UVM Libraries, in honor of Birdie MacLennan (The University of Vermont Foundation, 411 Main St., Burlington, VT 05401). Memorial services are pending and will be announced soon.


Mara Saule
Chief Information Officer and
Dean of University Libraries and Learning Resources


Birdie after a Chinese calligraphy lesson in Singapore last year. She wrote, “The character represents: Longevity, Life, Vivacity 壽 in the traditional Chinese script.”

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4 Responses to Our Project Director and Principal Investigator, Birdie MacLennan

  1. Aileen Lachs says:

    I am deeply saddened by the news of Birdie’s passing. She was one of the kindest, most thoughtful and caring people I have ever met. She will be greatly missed.

  2. sophie quest says:

    That Friend speaks my mind. (A saying of Quakers)

  3. Maurice Langevin says:

    Maurice Langevin
    March 20, 2014

    Dear Birdie,

    I love you Birdie. Where ever you are. My heart is full of happy memories of all those numerous “tête à tête” diners we shared at Papa Frank’s in Winooski after our “Pause-Café meetings.
    And those joyful, Sunday, day trips to Montréal,

    I plan to move to Burlington in the near future; then I will renew with Pause-Café.

    Will I miss you less then? No.

    I’ll always miss you, terribly…

    Till I join you in eternity.


  4. Juan Almenara
    March 25, 2014

    Dear Birdie MacLennan,

    I’m sad because you were one of the best persons I met when I was in Burlington.
    We discussed great subjects at the ‘french’ restaurant “Mr Crepe”, with the others (Pause-Café meetings).

    You must not be forgot.
    I wont.

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