James Neal Appointed Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian


by Lauren Marshall

James Neal, Dean of University Libraries and Sheridan Director of the Milton S. Eisenhower Library at Johns Hopkins University, has been appointed Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian at Columbia University.

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Starting September 1, Neal, who has also served as Dean of University Libraries at Indiana University, will oversee the operations of the Columbia's libraries system, the tenth largest research library in North America, and the University's Academic Information Systems (AcIS). He will manage library collections that include more than 7 million volumes, 28 million manuscripts, thousands of journals, CD-ROMs, data files, sound recordings and an expansive portfolio of electronic journals; shape the Libraries' electronic resource programs, and ensure that Columbia University Libraries and its state-of-the-art networks and academic information systems continue to meet the needs of faculty and students.

"Jim Neal provided great leadership to the research libraries at Johns Hopkins and Indiana universities. He proved extremely capable at striking that important balance between maintaining collections and assuring access to traditional sources on the one hand and developing new and important digital collections on the other," said Columbia President George Rupp. "During the continued rapid evolution of information technology, Jim's extensive experience and proven ability will be invaluable assets to Columbia. Moving forward, I am certain that he will help guide us to a new and ongoing level of excellence in our libraries that will benefit all our students, faculty and staff."

Columbia Provost and Dean of Faculties Jonathan Cole added: "We could not be more pleased with this appointment. When we started our search, we compiled a list of skills and accomplishments that we felt Columbia's Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian should possess, and as it turns out that ideal had a name -- Jim Neal. There is a revolution going on in the access to and use of library materials and new digital media, and Jim is a person who can help make Columbia a leader in developing features of that revolution that will benefit scholars, scientists, students and a variety of broader public audiences."

Neal, an alumnus of Rutgers University who earned a Certificate in Advanced Librarianship and a masters of Science from Columbia University's School of Library Science as well as an M.A. in history from Columbia's Graduate School of the Arts and Sciences, said: "Columbia University presents an extraordinary combination of rich tradition, innovation and leadership in its library and information services programs. I return to Columbia eager to advance this core excellence and to work creatively and collaboratively to pursue new initiatives."

At Johns Hopkins, Neal managed the library system and oversaw the activities of the Center for Educational Resources, an instructional technology/distance learning support facility comparable to Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning; the Digital Knowledge Center, a research and development unit focused on electronic pedagogy, digital libraries and emerging technologies, and the library Entrepreneurial Program, a network of e-commerce initiatives serving distance learning institutions and new markets for electronic information services.

In addition to his tenure as dean of the Johns Hopkins libraries (1998-2001), Sheridan Director of Milton S. Eisenhower Library (1995-2001) and dean of the University Libraries at Indiana University (1989-1995), Neal has held administrative positions in the libraries at Penn State, Notre Dame and the City University of New York.

Neal is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences, and a consultant and published researcher in the areas of scholarly communication, intellectual property, digital library development, organizational change, human resources development and library fundraising. He served on the Board of Project Muse, the electronic journal publishing program at Johns Hopkins; on the advisory boards for the e-history book project at the American Council of Learned Societies and PubMed Central at the National Institutes of Health, and on the steering committee for SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.

He has represented the American library community in testimony on copyright matters before congressional committees and was an advisor to the U.S. delegation at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) diplomatic conference on copyright. He serves on copyright policy and advisory groups for Hopkins, American Library Association, Association of Research Libraries, American Association of Universities and the International Federation of Library Associations.

Neal has also served on the Council and Executive Board of the American Library Association; was president of the Association of Research Libraries and chair of OCLC's Research Library Advisory Council in 1997-8, and was selected as the academic research librarian of the Year in 1997 by the ALA's Association of College and Research Libraries.

The search committee, chaired by professor Richard L. Bushman, included faculty and administrators from the University and library system.

Neal is poised to build upon the achievements of Elaine Sloan, former University Librarian and Vice President for Information Services who retired in July. During her 13-year tenure, Sloan witnessed the infancy of the digital revolution and its impact on libraries and information technology and services. From the beginning, she shepherded the Libraries in their evolution toward a 21st century information reservoir accessible anytime, anywhere. She was instrumental in the development of the Digital Library project, which offers a host of digital resources and tools to the academic community; established the Electronic Publishing Initiative at Columbia, which brought together colleagues from AcIS, Columbia University Press and the Libraries in the development of new kinds of Internet-based scholarly publications; contributed to the creation of the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning; helped realize the offsite storage facility that will soon be shared among Columbia, New York Public Library and Princeton University, and managed the $70 millionten-year renovation of Butler Library, in addition to many other projects and initiatives.

There are 20 libraries in the Columbia University Libraries system, including Butler Library, Lehman (Social Sciences and Social Work), Watson (Business and Economics), C.V. Starr (East Asian), Avery (Architecture and Fine Arts), the Rare Book and Manuscript Library and the branch libraries for the sciences and engineering. An active digital library program complements the Libraries' growing collections and rich array of traditional and electronic information services.

Published: Aug 02, 2001
Last modified: Sep 18, 2002