Former iSchool Director James S. Healey Dies


On Monday, July 20, the library and information science community lost a great leader when James S. Healey passed away. Dr. Healey served as Director of the San José State University School of Information from 1985 to 1993. During those eight years, he created a legacy that included establishing a statewide library school in California and spearheading early efforts to launch the school’s distance learning program. He referred to those efforts as his “most important” contribution to the field of library science.

Healey played a key role in revising the school’s curriculum to create courses that were, to quote Healey, “intimately intertwined with contemporary information technology.” Under his leadership, the school built a computer lab with the latest computers and software. Through Healey’s efforts, the school’s curriculum nearly doubled in size, growing from 27 classes in 1982 to almost 50 classes in 1988. At the same time, enrollment increased. In fall 1985, more than 160 students were enrolled, and by 1989, that figure had more than doubled to 345 students.

Healey was born in Chicago in 1931 and raised in New York City. He studied in Boston and established his early library career there.

Healey received a BA in English from Stonehill College in 1955 and an MS in Library Science from Simmons College in 1958. Upon graduating from Stonehill, his first job was as a reference assistant at Harvard College library and then as a reference assistant with the Boston Public Library. From 1956-1961, he was a librarian for the Stoneham (MA) Public Library, and after that spent six years as a librarian for the Free Public Library in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he initiated the region’s first automated public library system.

Healey then moved to Rhode Island and spent the next 11 years as chief of the state’s library services division and concurrently earned his MBA from the University of Rhode Island in 1967, staying at the school for the next seven years as an assistant professor of library science. During that time, he worked on the planning and initiation of an early form of distance education, sending library school faculty out to teach on campuses in each of the five New England states. Then, two years after earning his doctoral degree in Library Science from Columbia in 1973, Healey moved back to the central states to become professor and library school director at the University of Oklahoma, where he established an innovative off-campus televised course program.

After leaving SJSU in 1993, Healey became editor of California Libraries journal.