James Neal

University Librarian Emeritus at Columbia University

Dear Graduates,

When Dr. Sandra Hirsh invited me to be the 2018 convocation speaker, I accepted with honor. It is a privilege to be able to be a part of your lives as you set out on a new adventure in the information profession. Many years ago, I was in your shoes and about to begin my career. When I reflect upon that time and where I am now, I feel an intense pride for our profession and am excited for the future. I look forward to celebrating with you on May 26, 2018. Until then, congratulations on this remarkable accomplishment!


Jim Neal
University Librarian Emeritus
Columbia University


Jim Neal is university librarian emeritus at Columbia University. He served as the vice president for information services and university librarian at Columbia University during 2001-2014, providing leadership for university academic computing and a system of 22 libraries. Previously, he served as the dean of University Libraries at Indiana University and Johns Hopkins University, and held administrative positions in the libraries at Penn State, Notre Dame, and the City University of New York.

Neal is president of the American Library Association. He has served on the Council and Executive Board, and was ALA Treasurer during 2010-13. He is a member of the OCLC Board of Trustees and many other instrumental organizations and has held several top-level positions, such as president of the Association of Research Libraries and treasurer of the Freedom to Read Foundation.

A consultant and published author in the areas of scholarly communication, intellectual property, digital library programs, and library cooperation, Neal has served on the university press boards at Columbia, John Hopkins and Indiana. He has represented the American library community in testimony on copyright matters before congressional committees, was an advisor to the U.S. delegation at the World Intellectual Property Organization diplomatic conference on copyright, and during 2005-08 was a member of the U.S. Copyright Office Section 108 Study Group.

His commitment and distinguished service to the information profession have not gone unrecognized. Neal has received several noteworthy awards throughout his career, including being named the 1997 Academic Librarian of the Year by the Association of College and Research Libraries. Most recently, he was awarded the Scroll of Appreciation by the International Federation of Library Associations.