Katharine Martinez ARIZONA DAILY STAR

When Katharine Martinez takes over the directorship of the Center for Creative Photography in July, she wants to get to work on making the center's vast collection more accessible.

The center, which is part of the University of Arizona Libraries, houses the archives of more than 60 major American photographers.

Martinez, 60, will leave her post as the director of the Fine Arts Library in Harvard College Library to take the position at the Center for Creative Photography.

She has also managed photographic collections at Stanford and Columbia universities and at the Smithsonian Institution.

Carla Stoffle, dean of UA Libraries, has been interim director since Britt Salvesen left that position last fall. Stoffle said there was a nationwide search for a new director.

Four people were brought to Tucson for interviews, and about 35 people applied for the position, Stoffle said.

"I'm thrilled," she said of Martinez's hire. "She's going to be an exciting, forward-looking director for the CCP."

Martinez's husband, Jim Coleman, landed a job of his own at the UA.

He will work in information technology for the UA Libraries.

Martinez's decision to leave Harvard University after 11 years had a lot to do with the UA center's reputation.

"It was an opportunity to work with an extraordinary collection and with an extraordinary staff," she said.

The center's 90,000 holdings include the archives of some of the most important figures in 20th-century photography, including Harry Callahan, W. Eugene Smith and Ansel Adams, who co-founded the center with then-UA President John P. Schaefer.

Martinez would like to see the collection put online so schools and universities around the world can use the information to teach students about the history of photography.

She also is excited to work with the center's curators and staff.

At Harvard's Fine Arts Library, she took pride in her support in the teaching and research pursuits of faculty members and students.

Martinez met the center's staff when she traveled to Tucson to interview for the position.

"I was very impressed," she said. "They are very knowledgeable. I look forward to working with them and the faculty."

Martinez also was struck by the desert's flora.

Her first visit to Tucson was 15 years ago, when she saw a cactus for the first time in her life.

On her second trip, she had a chance to see flowers blooming on cacti.

"It was amazing," she said. "We took photos, because we couldn't believe it."

Stoffle and members of the search committee feel fortunate to have landed someone as capable as Martinez, Stoffle said.

"This is a fantastic hire for the university," Stoffle said. "We're excited about the future with Katharine."

Contact reporter Andrea Rivera arivera@azstarnet.com or 807-8430.