CHICAGO - The American Library Association (ALA) Council elected former ALA President and Treasurer Jim Neal to honorary membership in the association, the ALA's highest honor, during the virtual 2022 Library Learning Experience. Honorary membership is conferred in recognition of outstanding contributions of lasting importance to libraries and librarianship.
Neal was nominated in recognition of significant contributions to libraries and the profession of librarianship and his accomplishments as ALA president and treasurer and a member of ALA Council. He was a member of the ALA Executive Board when the Spectrum Initiative was launched and has actively raised funds on behalf of the program, as well as advocating for the establishment of DEI as a fourth strategic priority for the association.
"His contributions to libraries and the profession of librarianship are myriad and wide-ranging. The people, organizations, and policies his leadership and service have positively affected are countless. His mentorship of multiple generations of library leaders has had broad influence and impact across the profession," said nominator Damon E. Jaggars, vice provost and dean of university libraries, The Ohio State University.
Neal has received numerous awards and honors recognizing his leadership, service, and achievements, including several from ALA (the Melvil Dewey Medal Award and the Joseph W. Lippincott Award) and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) (the Hugh C. Atkinson Memorial Award, Academic/Research Librarian of the Year), among many others.
Neal has made a substantial contribution to the literature of librarianship, having published over 90 papers in a wide range of publications, from refereed scholarship to thought and advocacy pieces to professional columns.
He has also made valuable contributions to the conversation around topics important to librarianship, higher education and society as a whole, having delivered over 550 presentations at conferences and meetings over 35 years
Neal has assumed leadership roles over several organizations that advance libraries and leadership. For ALA, he has served as president and treasurer, as well as six terms on the Council and four terms on the Executive Board, among many other leadership roles and committee assignments for ALA and its divisions. He also spent many years on the board of the Freedom to Read Foundation, receiving its Roll of Honor Award.
He has also served three terms on the OCLC Board of Trustees, on the board and as president of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), on the board and as chair of the Research Libraries Group (RLG) and on the board and as chair of the National Information Standards Organization (NISO).
His leadership has extended to such organizations as the Digital Preservation Network (DPN), CrossRef, the Digital Library Federation (DLF), the HathiTrust Research Center, the New York Center for the Book, the Open Knowledge Commons, the Research Collections and Preservation Consortium (ReCAP), the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) and the Library Advisory Board for the University of the People.
It has also reached across national boundaries - he has represented the U.S. library community for eight years on the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) Section Committee on Interlending and Document Delivery, for 12 years on the Section Committee on Academic and Research Libraries, and for 16 years on the Committee on Copyright on Other Legal Matters, among several other leadership roles and committee assignments. For the IFLA Annual Conference in Boston in 2001, he served on the National Organizing Committee and chaired the fundraising program. For the Annual Conference in Columbus in 2016, he headed an extremely successful scholarship fundraising program and was awarded the IFLA Scroll of Appreciation. He is the current chair of ALA's International Relations Round Table.
As a voice for libraries, Neal has traveled in 92 countries throughout the world and has spoken at over 80 international conferences, including keynote addresses in 22 countries.
He has also played an influential and wide-ranging role in the arena of information and public policy over four decades, addressing such areas as government information and the Federal Library Depository Program, copyright and fair use, government surveillance and the USA PATRIOT Act, intellectual freedom and civil liberties, federal funding of library programs, an open internet, net neutrality, and improved telecommunications in rural and tribal communities. He currently serves as a senior policy fellow at ALA focusing on copyright issues and was recently appointed to the Copyright Public Modernization Committee (CPMC) by the Librarian of Congress. He led the development of the ALA Policy Corps and the National Advocacy Network.
Neal has also provided active leadership in the areas of scholarly communications and publishing throughout his career. He has served on the boards of university presses at Indiana University, Johns Hopkins University and Columbia University. At Johns Hopkins, he was part of the team that developed and implemented Project Muse, as well as on editorial advisory boards for several scholarly journals, including College & Research Libraries, Bottom Line: Managing Library Finances, Journal of Library Administration, Library Administration and Management Journal and portal: Libraries and the Academy.
As an early advocate for open: open access, open research, open data, open monographs, and open educational resources, he was a member of the working group that organized the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) and later served on its Steering Committee and as chair. He has also served in leadership roles for scholarly communications committees for both ACRL and ARL.
Over the course of his career, Neal has championed leadership development as a core priority for the profession. He was a founding director for the ARL Library Leadership Fellows Program and actively engaged and supported ARL's Leadership and Career Development Program for 17 years. He has provided formal and informal mentorship for many participants of these programs and other colleagues, many of whom have advanced into positions of administrative and professional leadership.
Always an ally for diversity, equity, and inclusion and an advocate for social justice, he has served on and led committees promoting diversity and intercultural awareness at the University of Notre Dame, Penn State University, and Indiana University, including drafting the Bloomington Imperative, a campus plan for diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Neal will receive an honorary membership plaque in June during the Opening General Session of the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, DC.