Remembering Bill Katz

By Wallace, Danny P.; Van Fleet, Connie | Reference & User Services Quarterly, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview
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Remembering Bill Katz


Wallace, Danny P., Van Fleet, Connie, Reference & User Services Quarterly


The Reference and User Services Association, readers of Reference & User Services Quarterly, the library world, and several generations of students of reference and information services were saddened by the September 12, 2004 death of William A. (Bill) Katz. Perhaps most widely recognized for his two-volume Introduction to Reference Work and Magazines for Libraries, Bill was editor of RQ, the predecessor to Reference & User Services Quarterly, during the journal's critical period of transition from a rather informal newsletter to a truly scholarly journal.

RQ was first published in 1960, three years after the founding of the Reference Services Division of the American Library Association. This "slim 8-page newsletter about the Reference Services Division" began to experience growing pains by the third year of publication. (1) William S. Buddington, the founding editor, guided the publication through its first three issues and was replaced by Ben Bowman, whose editorship spanned the fourth issue of the first volume and the first two issues of Volume 2. John Fall succeeded Bowman and was editor through the second issue of Volume 3. Bill Katz assumed the editorship with the third issue of Volume 3 and immediately doubled the page length to sixteen pages and the number of issues to six per year. Bill continued to edit the journal through the end of Volume 12. His ten years as editor saw the journal grow from a brief newsletter to a scholarly professional journal publishing 108 pages of articles and columns in each issue.

Bill oversaw the introduction of a whole family of columns of interest to the journal's readership, beginning with "The Exchange," a compendium of difficult to answer or unusual questions posed by readers and answers supplied by readers. "The Exchange" was a regular feature of the journal from Volume 5 (1965-1966) through Volume 38 (1998-1999). "From the Field" was published from Volume 8 (1968-1969) through the third issue of Volume 12 (1972-1973), offering "a compendium of thought, dealing with library problems and expressing points of view." (2) "Research in Reference" also began with Volume 8 and was published on an irregular basis through volume 11 (1971-1972). "RQ/IR" was an automation-oriented column that appeared only three times between 1968 and 1972. "Bibliography Bargains," which "was a forum that listed locally produced bibliographies to permit exchange and utilization by members" ran from 1971 through 1975. (3)

Perhaps the most significant column introduced under Bill's editorship was the "In Review" column (now "Sources"), which first appeared in Volume 5, Number 1, Fall 1965. During the column's first year sixty-seven reviews were published, impressive enough given that Bill edited the column as well as the journal. By its third year the "In Review" column had grown to 261 entries; Volume 8 saw the appointment of a separate review editor and 338 reviews were published.

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