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From Documentation to Information Science
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As part of ASIS&T’s 75-year anniversary celebration, we have digitized Irene S. Farkas-Conn’s book, “From Documentation to Information Science”. We encourage you to use this book as a basis to review and add to the Society’s history. 

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From DOCUMENTATION to INFORMATION SCIENCE The Beginnings and Early Development of the American Documentation Institute — American Society for Information Science Irene S. Farkas-Conn CONTRIBUTIONS IN LIBRARIANSHIP AND INFORMATION SCIENCE, Number 67 GREENWOOD PRESS New York • Westport, Connecticut • London Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Farkas-Conn, Irene Sekely, 1928- From documentation to information science : the beginnings [...]

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Introduction This book examines the emergence of documentation/information science in the United States through the activities of the American Society for Information Science (ASIS). It traces the origin of ASIS in post-World War I Washington, the beginning of the organization in the 1930s as the American Documentation Institute (ADI), and its early activities. The work then explores the remarkable organization of science and technology during World War II that affected scientific communication [...]

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From Documentation to Information Science Caught up in the excitement, the anxieties, and the pressures of our interconnected world, we can overlook the way, technology has extended human capabilities. Our tools are changing as new developments in computing and telecommunication are being announced at an increasing pace. These changes require reexamining concepts, principles, and policies that give direction to future activities to harmonize the discontinuities, to enhance the way people wor [...]

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The first step leading toward the organization of the ADI was Davis’s draft plan for a world bibliography of science, which he followed up in 1933 with a proposal for a Scientific Information Institute (SIT). These plans did not materialize, but they attracted funds that enabled Davis to carry out documentation projects within Science Service. Discussions of Davis’s ideas opened communication between Davis and the community of scholars, library managers, and archivists, who later joined him [...]

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Documentation in the 1930s The first step leading toward the organization of the ADI was Davis’s draft plan for a world bibliography of science, which he followed up in 1933 with a proposal for a Scientific Information Institute (SIT). These plans did not materialize, but they attracted funds that enabled Davis to carry out documentation projects within Science Service. Discussions of Davis’s ideas opened communication between Davis and the community of scholars, library managers, and arch [...]

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By the mid-1930s microfilm technology improved to the point where librarians and archivists with an experimental bent were embarking on microphotographic projects. The first operations based on the 1926 ideas of Slosson and Davis were launched. In 1935, with the support of a grant from the American Chemical Foundation, Davis could start up Science Service’s own documentation activities, initiate development of microphotographic equipment, and take over microfilm-based service operations. His a [...]

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Public statements about the Documentation Division of Science Service (DDSS) reflected scholarly vigor and a promising future. Davis, however, was well aware of the March 31, 1937, deadline set by the executive committee and took deliberate steps to organize an independent documentation institute that could continue the DDSS projects. Having learned from the crisis of the previous summer, he kept the executive committee informed about his plans for the DDSS. He asked for their approval for Sc [...]

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The new ADI took over the Bibliofilm Service and Auxiliary Publication Service operations of the DDSS and unexpectedly became involved in testing the copyright laws. This chapter first examines ADI’s structure and its membership, then looks at the institute’s activities from its early years through World War II. Davis continued to hold sway over the institute during this period. But outside forces, such as the expansion of microfilm technology, changes in institutions, and, most of all, W [...]

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ADI quietly continued its activities during the war. The kinds of operations ADI had initiated were taken over by other agencies and expanded far beyond the scope of the original projects. Libraries were routinely engaged in microfilm copying. Industrial organizations feverishly copied key documents to ensure that provision of strategic products would not be disrupted by sabotage or air raids. The govern­ment carried out large-scale microfilming for its own operations, from intelligence to the [...]

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The momentum of wartime research and development activities led to continuing exploration of new concepts in science and technology. The research in electronics, computers and cryptography, and the general interest in the organization and use of scientific information brought about a climate of inquiry concerning the nature of information and communication that led to the beginning of several new branches of what Fritz Machlup later termed information disciplines.1 This was also a time for intro [...]

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As an indirect result of World War II, library interest expanded and documentation activities took on a new dimension. Remarkable developments were taking place in scientific information management and bibliography, and in the developing area of mechanized information retrieval. A few people were embarking on the quest for a theoretical foundation of information work. These developments would mandate fundamental changes in the ADI. The first — and long forgotten — major impact on the institu [...]

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Bibliographic activities in the country were teeming; the appearance of the first computers and increased automatic data processing led to exploring the fundamentals of information and mechanizing information retrieval in smaller collections. The challenge of setting up and operating large-scale bibliographic operations and establishing new technical information centers brought together librarians, technically trained people, administrators, and a few academics intent on discussing technical dev [...]

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The path that led from Watson Davis’s interest in improving scientific communication to the foundation of the ADI took a sharp turn in 1952, when the ADI was reorganized into a professional society. After the change, as in ancient mythologies, new leaders were now setting the course of the institute; its founder, Watson Davis, had to step aside; and ADI’s past history, for the moment, had become irrelevant.1 The era between the end of World War II — when the field began to expand — thro [...]

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Presidents of the Society YEAR(S); PRESIDENT 1937-1946 Watson Davis 1947 Waldo G. Leland 1948-1949 Vernon D. Tate 1950-1952 Luther H. Evans 1953 E. Eugene Miller 1954 Milton 0. Lee 1955 Scott Adams 1956 Joseph Hilsenrath 1957 James W. Perry 1958 Herman H. Henkle 1959 Karl F. Heumann 1960 Cloyd Dake Gull 1961 Gerald J. Sophar 1962 Claire K. Schultz 1963 Robert M. Hayes 1964 Hans Peter Luhn [...]

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ARCHIVAL COLLECTIONS American Society for Information Science. Files. Washington, D.C. Archives of the Smithsonian Institution. Science Service Collection. Record Unit 7091. Washington, D.C. Harvard University Archives. Cambridge, Massachusetts. Keyes D. Metcalf Papers. Library of Congress. Central Administration. Files. Washington, D.C. _____ . Manuscript Division. Joint Committee on Materials for Research Collection. Washington, D.C. _____  . American Council of Learned Societi [...]

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IRENE S. FARKAS-CONN is a consultant, an internationally known expert on information management, and an advocate of new computing, telecommunication, and optical disc technologies to make most effective use of information. A frequent lecturer in the United States and abroad, her experience has led her to examine not only how people use information and how it is transferred, but how organizations can be made to function more effectively. She served on the board of the American Society for Inform [...]

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