Mullins honored with 2017 ILS Distinguished Alumni Award

James Mullins

James L. Mullins, the Dean of Libraries and the Esther Ellis Norton Professor of Library Science at Purdue University, has been honored with Indiana University’s 2017 Information and Library Science Distinguished Alumni Award.

Mullins earned his Ph.D. in 1984 from the then-School of Library and Information Science, which is now part of the School of Informatics and Computing. He spent 19 years as an associate professor of SLIS while serving as an associate librarian at the Maurer School of Law at IU in the mid-1970s and as the Director of Library Services at IU South Bend from 1978-96.

He became the University Librarian and Director of the Falvey Memorial Library at Villanova University in 1996, and he took over as the Associate Director for Administration for the libraries at MIT in 2000. He served in that capacity until 2004, when he left for Purdue.

“Throughout his career, Dr. Mullins has demonstrated exceptional skills as an information professional and made outstanding contributions to society through Library Science in both intellect and service,” said Michael Witt, associate professor of library science and head of the Distributed Data Center at Purdue. “Hundreds if not thousands of library science students and library professionals have benefitted from the guidance and mentorship provided by Dr. Mullins over the years. He has greatly influenced our library and university as well as the surrounding community and the profession of librarianship.”

Mullins has instituted a number of initiatives during his career, including the foundation of Open Courseware and DSpace at MIT, and he was the chair of the E-Science Task Force of the Association of Research Libraries as well. During his time at Purdue, he launched the Distributed Data Curation Center and led the Purdue University Research Repository institutional data repository service, DataCite, as well as the Library Publishing Coalition.

“Jim has been a leader and innovator in the area of data science and data research management, establishing one of the first positions in data curation in the nation many years ago,” said Sarah Thomas, vice president for the Harvard Library, University Librarian, and Roy E. Larsen Librarian for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “Jim has contributed much to the advancement of learning and research. He is deeply deserving of this honor.”

He has published numerous papers and made countless presentations to advance methods of librarianship, and he has been involved with the National Science Foundation to allow librarians to become better integrated into the funded research process.

“Jim made a profound contribution to the profession in the area of data management,” said Brian Schottlaender, the Audrey Geisel University Librarian at UC San Diego and fellow IU ILS alumnus. “He played a leadership role in shaping the national conversation in the area, including helping the National Science Foundation think about the role of libraries in data curation. Jim’s contributions in the areas of standards development, scholarly communication, and data management are manifest in his voluminous writing and speaking engagements.”

Mullins’ leadership saw Purdue honored with the American Colleges & Research Libraries Excellence in Academic Libraries award in 2015, and he was personally awarded the Hugh Atkinson Memorial Award in honor of library leadership in management and technology in 2016. He also has served in leadership positions within the American Library Association and the Association of Research Libraries, and he helped conceive and plan the Active Learning Center, a 164,000-square-foot facility that unites library and information services at Purdue that previously had been distributed across campus.

Mullins, who is the chair of the Management Advisory Board of Purdue University Press, earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in religion, history, and political science from the University of Iowa, and he also earned his M.A.L.S. from Iowa in 1973.

“Jim has served as a role model and mentor to me,” said Robert McDonald, the associate dean for library technologies and deputy director of the Data to Insight Center at IU. “I can only hope this honor will be an inspiration to others working to serve the needs of the research library community at large.”

Mullins will be awarded the honor at the SoIC Alumni Reception at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago June 25. The Information and Library Science Distinguished Alumni Award was established in 1977 and recognizes an alumnus or alumna who is making or has made an outstanding contribution to the Library Science/Information Science profession.

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