2009 Melvil Dewey Medal Award Recipient Named

Contact: Cheryl Malden

Program Officer

Office of ALA Governance




For Immediate Release

May 7, 2009

Chicago –James Neal, Vice President for Information Services and university librarian at Columbia University, has been chosen to receive the American Library Association’s 2009 Melvil Dewey Medal Award, sponsored by OCLC. This prestigious professional honor given in recognition of creative leadership of high order is named after Melvil Dewey who was actively interested in library management, library training, cataloging and classification, and the tools and techniques of librarianship; Jim Neal’s career epitomizes these qualities.

Neal an effective spokesman for and to the library community career spans more than 35 years. A nominator commented “Jim Neal is one of the most well-known and widely respected leaders in the library world today. As an advocate for sensible and supportive intellectual property policy and for effective open access to scholarly research, he has helped shape the national debate on these topics, influenced the direction of government policy, and served as a respected, effective voice for the library profession. As a library administrator, he has developed creative approaches to scholarly publication, framed innovative partnerships between libraries and scholars and promoted an expansive vision of the roles of libraries in the scholarly endeavor and in teaching and learning. As a speaker and author, he has stimulated the thinking of librarians, raised our profile on campuses and among publishers, and communicated his own excitement and enthusiasm about the future of academic libraries to an ever-growing audience.”

The jury for the 2009 Melvil Dewey Medal is pleased to honor Jim Neal for his many accomplishments during a long and distinguished career as director of three of America’s most distinguished academic libraries, Columbia, Johns Hopkins and Indiana University.

“Among the achievements specially noted by the Dewey jury and the colleagues who wrote in support of this award were Mr. Neal’s vision and leadership in effectively advocating for the interests of libraries in relation to intellectual property legislation and treaties at both the national and international levels; his long-standing role in promoting changes in scholarly communication, most notably as a leader in the development of SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition whose steering committee he chaired during its years of major growing impact; his vision and leadership in helping transform the roles, effectiveness, reach and reputation of numerous American library organizations, including American Library Association (ALA), Association of Research Libraries (ARL), National Information Standards Organization (NISO), and Research Libraries Group (RLG); and his persistent, future-oriented promotion of an expansive and vital role for libraries through countless publications and speeches throughout the world.

Taken together, these manifold achievements demonstrate in the most exemplary way imaginable the “recent creative professional achievement in library management and the tools and techniques of librarianship” the Dewey Medal was established to honor, said Winston Tabb jury chair.”

Neal has served on numerous ALA committees including Council and Executive Board and is currently Chair of the Budget Advisory and Review Committee (BARC), and board member of the Freedom to Read Foundation. He has also served on numerous international, national, and state professional committees, and is an active member of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA). He has also won many awards including the American Library Association, Hugh C. Atkinson Memorial Award, and ACRL’s Academic Librarian of the Year.

The 2009 Melvil Dewey Award will be presented at the ALA Award Ceremony and Reception Tuesday, July 14, during the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago.

Members of the 2009 Melvil Dewey Award jury are Winston Tabb, John Hopkins University Libraries, Baltimore, MD; Emily Bergman, Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA; Norman Horrocks, Rowman Littlefield Publishing Group, Canada; Carol Ann Hughes, University of California-Irvine; and Irene Zimmerman, University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The deadline for submissions of applications for the 2010 Melvil Dewey Award is Dec. 1, 2009 Guidelines and application forms are available at