MSEL Names IU's Neal New Library Director By Dennis O'Shea The job of the librarian is changing, the newly appointed director of the university's Eisenhower Library says. Then again, he says, it isn't. James G. Neal, who will assume the library's R. Champlin and Debbie Sheridan Directorship in September, says research libraries today are being pulled in two directions: printed literature remains critically important to scholarship, while more and more information is created and distributed in electronic formats. "Libraries must move aggressively on developing and implementing information technology," he said. "Our students and faculty increasingly require it." Nevertheless, he said, though technology requires librarians to employ new skills and to think in new ways, their mission remains very much the same. "Libraries must play a strong leadership role in building collections, organizing them, educating and assisting users and preserving and archiving the information," he said. "Those are the roles that libraries have effectively played in scholarly communication, and I don't believe the electronic environment changes that. If anything, it demands more involvement from librarians and libraries." Neal comes to Johns Hopkins from Indiana University, where he has been dean of university libraries since 1989. He coordinates a system of 57 libraries on eight campuses and is directly responsible for the management and budget of the libraries on the main campus in Bloomington. He is also responsible for library technology programs system-wide. At Hopkins, he succeeds Scott Bennett, who left last year to become librarian at Yale University. Stephen G. Nichols, professor of French, has served as interim director at the MSEL, the university's main research library and the largest research library in Maryland. "Jim Neal is a highly regarded librarian, with a fine record of leadership and innovation," said Provost Joseph Cooper, who made the appointment. "He knows every aspect of organizing and operating a research library, and he's out in front in addressing the challenges and opportunities for libraries in the information age." Neal said the Eisenhower Library faces a number of challenges: ù Despite the growth in electronic publishing, the library still must manage and preserve a growing print collection of more than 2 million volumes and 14,000 periodicals and has simply run out of space. Adequate housing for the collection is a critical need. ù Like all libraries, Neal said, it must adapt its collections and services to the changing needs of users. "Users must drive the collections and services of the library," he said. "We require effective communications with students and faculty." ù The library, he said, also must ensure that its staff is trained to work with students and faculty in the use of new information technology, and to manage effectively in a rapidly changing environment. ù With the price of information skyrocketing, the library must develop cost-saving partnerships with other academic libraries and with commercial, government and not-for-profit organizations. ù The library must confront extraordinary funding challenges; key components of that effort are successful development and grants programs. Last October, longtime library supporter R. Champlin Sheridan, a Hopkins alumnus and trustee, and his wife, Debbie, announced a $20 million commitment to the library for endowment and renovation. The gift, which coincided with the kickoff of the $900 million Johns Hopkins Initiative, included a $5 million challenge, in which the Sheridans pledged to match contributions from others on a dollar-for-dollar basis. "The Sheridan gift represents an extraordinary commitment to the future of the Eisenhower Library and to Hopkins faculty and students," Neal said. "It provides that important edge of quality for the library and establishes an invaluable model for library support." Neal came to Indiana University from Penn State, where he was assistant dean. He previously held library posts at the University of Notre Dame and the City University of New York. He graduated from Rutgers University in 1969 with a degree in Russian studies and earned a master of arts in history at Columbia University in 1972 and a master of library science there the following year. He holds elected positions on the council of the American Library Association and the board of the Association of Research Libraries and recently served as president of the Library Administration and Management Association. He headed the Indiana delegation to the White House Conference on Library and Information Services and was chosen outstanding librarian for 1993 by the Indiana Library Federation.
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