Academic journal article Alexandria

Information History - an Introduction: An Emergent Field

Academic journal article Alexandria

Information History - an Introduction: An Emergent Field

Article excerpt

Weller, Toni. Information history - an introduction: an emergent field Oxford: Chandos, 2008. xvi, 147 pp. ISBN-13 978-1-84334-395-0. £59.95 (hardback) ISBN-13 978-1-84334-394-3. £39.95 (paperback)

Every discipline needs a history? So Alistair Black wrote in 2004. 1 Black argued the case for Information History as a discrete discipline. Five years later Information history - an introduction: exploring an emergent field has been written by Toni Weller and published by Chandos. The bibliography stands as a testament to the work done in this field by Black. Fourteen entries in the bibliography have either been authored or co-authored by Black. Does Information history - an introduction represent the establishment of Information History as a distinct discipline or even sub-discipline? This author argues that it does not.

Information history - an introduction is organized into five chapters: Introducing information history, The relevance of information history, Key schools of thought in information history, Information history in practise, and Looking forward. The first two chapters detail the argument for the formation of information history emerging from an interest in the contemporary information society and highlighting the problem of definition as shared with other abstract fields of historical study such as the history of ideas. There is a strong emphasis on continuity with the mother discipline of library and information studies. Weller convincingly argues for a utilitarian aspect of information history placing it alongside information literacy as a subject worthy of being taught in graduate library schools. Equally chapter four, which details research methodologies for exploring information history as well as potential problems that can be encountered in historical research, will prove invaluable for students.

The book unravels in chapter three with an exploration of the different information history schools of thought. Weller argues for five distinct schools: library and book history, the history of information systems and infrastructures, the history of information disciplines, cultural and social explorations of information, and origins of the information society. …

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