Neil McLean

Neil McLean BA(Hons) DipEd DipLib ALA FALIA

  • ALIA Fellowship 2002

For more than twenty years, Neil McLean has been an effective proponent for the development and promotion of librarianship in Australia and the United Kingdom. He has made a prolific and influential contribution to the literature and practice of librarianship particularly through his advocacy of technological innovation for the creation, storage and dissemination of knowledge.

Besides the contribution made to the library and information profession by virtue of tenure of senior management positions in higher education libraries, Neil's career has been particularly distinguished by his involvement in research projects of lasting importance to the sector. The outstanding features of Neil's involvement have been his ability and willingness to see further and more broadly than others in framing the research and development agenda for library applications.

Neil left Australia soon after completing a Graduate Diploma in Librarianship at the University of New South Wales in 1969. He held senior positions at the Hatfield Polytechnic and at the Polytechnic of Central London, now the University of Westminster. While in the United Kingdom, Neil was awarded a Diploma in Librarianship from the Polytechnic of North London (1972).

As head of library services of the Polytechnic of Central London, Neil recognised the need for librarians to undertake applied research. His strong commitment to research has benefited librarianship in general not just within the higher education sector.

Neil was an early champion of the need for librarians to understand and adapt information technology rather than follow the dictates of technologists. His efforts have promoted the recognition of the contribution which librarians can make to projects involving information technology.

Of particular note is Neil's involvement in the CILLA project, the development of ARIEL scanning and transmission software and in the international PRIDE (People and Resources Identification for Distributed Environments) project. This project aims to create solutions for individual libraries which want to connect their catalogues and interloans systems with those of other institutions to create richer networked services for end users. More recently he has led the development and promotion of the LIDDAS (Local Interlending and Document Delivery Automated System) project.

As librarian of Macquarie University from 1996-2001, Neil was an extremely competent manager who transformed the library. The library is recognised for its good management, innovation and its indispensable role as a partner in the university's research, teaching and learning activities. Under Neil's leadership, the library developed links with the local community including the public and school libraries, and has a long standing nexus with the State Library of New South Wales.

Neil was a driving force in the formation of the Coalition for Innovation in Scholarly Communication and in organising the seminar: Australia's information future: securing the infrastructure for research and innovation held in 2000. Neil was instrumental in establishing and representing the profession on the various project groups formed as an outcome of the seminar.

Through publications such as Investment in information and knowledge infrastructure: a strategic framework for Australia's research enterprise, Neil did much to improve the understanding of all the major players of the complex issues involved in research support.

As a Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL) member, Neil has been proactive in providing papers and agenda items and keeping CAUL informed of progress in his many areas of interest. He has strong links with many overseas libraries and has been successful in gaining participation of New Zealand libraries in the LIDDAS project and in drawing CONZUL into closer collaboration with CAUL through participation in joint projects and consortial negotiations.

With his appointment in 2001 as director of IMS, Australia, Neil has taken another step which will enable him to enhance his already considerable contribution to the development of standards for exchanging learning content and information about learners among learning systems components. His involvement stands to benefit the entire learning community - academic staff, students and librarians - thus strengthening the partnerships amongst these groups, increasingly essential in the global online information age.

A formidable intellect, capacious memory and an enviable capacity to summarise and make the connections amongst presentations from entire conference programs underpin Neil McLean's recognised leadership in the profession. His indefatigable energy and capacity to work on a number of different levels and projects simultaneously, means he is constantly sought for presentations, papers, committee memberships and as an invaluable member of a multiplicity of networks.

Neil works assiduously to promote librarianship and to ensure that librarians are included in the processes associated with changing the scholarly communication environment. His contribution to the development and application of information technology has made him one of the few Australian librarians who is internationally recognised in this field. Neil has made, and continues to make, a distinguished contribution to the theory and practice of library and information science. He is a worthy recipient of the award of Fellow of the Australian Library and Information Association.