Johns Hopkins Gazette: May 8, 1995


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:

    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.

    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."

    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.

    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.

    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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