Neal to Head Hopkins's Eisenhower Library
Neal will assume the library's R. Champlin and Debbie Sheridan Directorship in September, succeeding Scott Bennett, who left Hopkins last year to become librarian at Yale University. Stephen G. Nichols, professor of French, has served as interim director.
"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."
At Indiana University, Neal 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.
Under his leadership, the university's libraries have advanced significantly in rankings of research libraries in North America and have been among the leaders in the application of information technology.
Neal said research libraries today are being pulled in many directions; printed literature, he said, remains critically important to scholarship while more and more information is being 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 the technology is expanding, the basic role of the library is not.
"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 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.
Neal 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.
The Milton S. Eisenhower Library is the main research library at Johns Hopkins and the largest research library in Maryland. It holds more than 2 million volumes, has nearly 14,000 periodical subscriptions and makes about 100 databases available to users. It also has extensive holdings in audio-visual materials, maps and manuscripts and houses the university's archives.
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.
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