Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies News

Boiler Up! It’s Tourney Time

March 14th, 2023

By: Ayn Reineke, in conversation with Neal Harmeyer, clinical associate professor, assistant head of Archives and Special Collections, and archivist for Digital Collections and Initiatives


There are certain stereotypes and assumptions that exist about “library people”—that we’re all introverts, that we’re all hyper-organized and obsessed with data, order, and peace and quiet. And most pertinent to today’s topic, that all library people would rather read a good book or enjoy their own tranquil, scholarly pursuits over participating in outdoor activities, crowded gatherings, and all things sports. 

While that may be true for some of us, even many of us, Purdue Libraries employs a diverse faculty and staff with interests and personalities as eclectic, varied, and interesting as the resources on our shelves and online. Today, I, resident extroverted library person, am excited to shine the spotlight on Neal Harmeyer, who joins me from Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, to discuss his love of college basketball as we enter tournament season. 

Neal Harmeyer seated
Neal Harmeyer, college basketball fan and clinical associate professor, assistant head of Archives and Special Collections, and archivist for Digital Collections and Initiatives

AR: Hi, Neal. So tell me, how did your love of college basketball start? 

NH: I am a native Hoosier and grew up playing basketball with my parents and siblings on our farm. From that, I grew interested in all levels of basketball, and I have continued to follow college basketball—men’s and women’s—for my entire life.

AR: That’s a long time! I imagine you must have picked up some favorite rituals and traditions for tournament season over the years, right?

NH: Yes. Each year after the teams for the Men’s and Women’s tournaments are announced, I participate in a bracket competition with my family; nothing is on the line but bragging rights. At the onset of the first weekend of the Men’s and Women’s NCAA Tournaments, I always cook a large pot of chili, create a set-up to watch all of the concurrent games at once, and settle down for several weeks of great games.

Sweet Set-Up! Neal Harmeyer’s home computers and television, ready for watching concurrent games during March Madness.

AR: You’re an archivist. Do you think your profession has had any impact on how you enjoy and participate in college basketball?

NH: I have a love of knowledge and history, and the history of basketball is full of amazing accomplishments, events, and stories that connect people. Sports are often a reflection of the world in which we all live. As an archivist, I also have a love of knowledge and history and the connections that bring the past into the present and connect people, places, and events. I often think about past eras of basketball, and I always enjoy learning more about the history of the sport.

AR: So, with your knowledge of recent seasons and the rich history of college tournaments past, what are your predictions for how far Purdue will go this year, and which teams besides Purdue will you be rooting for most? 

NH: The amazing thing about the NCAA Tournament is its unpredictability, and so any outcome is possible, like seeing UMBC defeat Virginia in 2018. This year, I expect both the Purdue men’s and women’s teams to do well in their postseasons. Each year, I root for all the Big Ten teams, and with strong teams at the top, I expect the conference to do well.

AR: Thanks, Neal. We’re all hoping you’re right!


Boiler Up! This story is the first in a new series showcasing the diverse talents and interests of Purdue Libraries employees.