James A. Nelson
(Retired) Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives State Librarian and Commissioner

Nelson received his MSLS from UK in 1969. He later worked at UK as the director of continuing professional education.  He also worked for the University of Wisconsin, where he had a joint appointment with the UW Library School and UW Extension Communication Programs, planning and managing continuing education activities for librarians.  He taught the public library course for both library schools.  Jim received the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the UK College of Library and Information Science in 1985.

Nelson served as the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives State Librarian and Commissioner for twenty six years and as Acting State Librarian for an earlier administration. He was also a speech writer for Governor Wendell Ford, later a US Senator honored by the American Library Association, for his longtime support of library issues; particularly free and open access to government information.  Nelson was active with the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies; serving as Treasurer and chairing its Legislative Committee.  In ALA, he was President of the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies and chaired the ALA Legislative Assembly.  He was a longtime board member of the Kentucky Library Association and received its “Lifetime Achievement Award,” the highest award given by the association.

During his tenure as State Librarian, he served on the Kentucky Information Resources Management Commission and focused on information policy issues.  He chaired the Commission for three years when Kentucky developed a state information technology strategic plan; an information architecture for all state agencies; and, standards for IT hardware, software and communications technology.  This was when Kentucky moved to a CIO enterprise technology management system.  He served on the ConnectKentucky Steering Committee which expanded Kentucky’s broadband communications through a community based model.

As Commissioner for KDLA, he served as a Chair of the State Archives and Records Commission during a time when KDLA developed one of the first local records programs and as the first electronic records programs in the country.  He served on the Board of Directors for the Southeastern Library network; the largest regional library resource sharing network in the nation; serving over 2500 libraries in 10 southeastern states and the Caribbean.  He chaired the SOLINET Board during that tenure.

Since his retirement in 2006, he has served as the Senior Library Consultant with Connected Nation.  They have worked to help public libraries establish and sustain broadband communications under a grant from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.