Women of Distinction


Lorraine Haricombe, Ph.D.

Lorraine Haricombe, Ph.D.


  • Earned a master's and a doctorate in Library and Information Science in only six years (1986-‘92)
  • As a single parent, successfully reared two accomplished daughters in the USA
  • Association of Research Libraries, Leadership Career Development Program; mentoring junior librarians from underrepresented populations, 2007-present
  • Provost’s designate for implementing the Open Access policy at KU, 2010-present.
    • KU is the first and (still) only public university in the USA where faculty adopted an institutional policy on open access. Many institutions look towards KU for guidance and I am honored to provide leadership in this area at KU.
  • Member, Executive Management Team, Research Libraries Consortium, South Africa 2011-2012
    • I have hosted a visiting librarian from South Africa to learn more about librarians’ roles in the research process at KU. Since then, I have been invited to join an international team, funded by Carnegie, to host workshops for emerging library leaders at research libraries in South Africa. I am honored to be a member of the team and privileged to give back to colleagues in my home country (pay forward).
  • President, Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA), 2011
    • GWLA is a consortium of more than 30 large academic and research libraries west of the Mississippi who share resources and expertise to facilitate meaningful collaboration in the western USA. KU is a founding member.
  • Member, Global Council, Online Computer Library Center, 2009-2011
    • OCLC connects people to knowledge through library cooperation among 72,000 libraries in 170 countries. KU Libraries has a strong and deep history with OCLC. I am an inaugural member of the Global Council.
  • Member, Advisory Board, Scholarly Publication and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), 2009-2012
    • SPARC is an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to correct imbalances in the scholarly publishing system. KU is a pioneer in this area and I am serving to help advance open access to information nationally and globally.

How I became interested in my area field:

The kernel may have been planted to become a librarian when I assisted my mother as a teenager at the public library in our hometown, where she served as the head of the library. Librarianship offered a career opportunity to serve others by connecting them with information. Information is power; I felt that I could make a difference especially among students at academic institutions. I pursued a bachelor’s degree and a honors (graduate degree) in Library and Information Science (LIS) at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. In 1986 I was awarded an international scholarship to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL followed by the Ph.D. in LIS at the same institution.

An honor, achievement or accomplishment that is most meaningful to me:

I was the first member in my extended family to go to university. After my bachelor’s degree and throughout my marriage and child rearing years my daughters knew me as a student and mom. Together we experienced the challenges of making sacrifices and the joys of success that helped pave the way for us in the USA, away from our home country.

Someone who has been a role model for me and why:

I do not have one role model but here are a few I can think of. John and Angie Volminck, who first encouraged me to study abroad in the USA and later to pursue a Ph.D.; Wilf Lancaster, a pre-eminent scholar and my advisor (and his wife Cesaria who provided a home away from home to us), Yvette Scheven, who entrusted me as her research assistant and taught me the painstaking work in compiling bibliographies. Professionally, I am fortunate to have great role models who are respected colleagues and who are willing to share their experience and their expertise and to collaborate with me.

Someone who has been influential or had a significant impact on my life:

There are several persons who impacted my life and continue to do so. As a child I learned that my mother, the oldest of eleven children, was the first female in our hometown to graduate from high school. She was a pioneer in her day and that made an impression on me. My parents, Leonard and Magdalene Haricombe, did not attend college but they understood the value of an education and sacrificed to give me and my three siblings the best opportunities they could.

My great aunt Gertrude impressed me with her strength, positive attitude and confidence despite the fact that she was illiterate.

My husband, Horace Chapman, provides patient support so that I may be the best I can be in my career. And, last but not least, I am indebted to my daughters Heidi Weilbach and Gretchen Tirado for their patience, love and maturity in living with a student-mom while growing up.

My favorite KU memory:

I have always enjoyed springing (pleasant) surprises on people and I continue to do so. The joy I derive from giving credit and recognition to those who least expect it has generated fond memories of very special moments. My favorite memory is the joy and pride I saw on my father’s face when I told him that I had sought permission from the dean for him to “hood” me when I graduated with my Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (LIS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL. (My dad had a GED).

An important life lesson I have learned:

We often place the responsibility for our happiness in other people’s hands, expecting them to make us feel secure, safe and content. I have learned how empowering it is to fulfill one’s own needs on one’s own. Work hard, take time for yourself, make time for others and enjoy the simple things in life.

If I had a sister just entering college, I would want her to know…

If you can dream it, you can do it. Set clear goals, work hard.

“When your life is on course with its purpose, you are most powerful.”
Oprah Winfrey

A favorite quote or saying and why it is meaningful to me:

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go further, go together.”
African idiom

I am naturally attracted to social settings and tend to include people in my surroundings so that they feel valued and recognized. I do not think of myself as a creative person. My strength is in coming up with an idea and finding the right person(s) to help make it better. In doing so, I recognize a) my own weaknesses and b) the worth of every contributor who helped to “go further.”