Magazine article Information Today

Forgotten History - Shame on You (a Blatant Advertisement)

Magazine article Information Today

Forgotten History - Shame on You (a Blatant Advertisement)

Article excerpt

This article is an advertisement. Read on and discover that I want you to use my services before it's too late. If you don't react now or as soon as possible, you will be missing an important piece of education, and you may never be able to pick it up again, not even at an elder hostle, twenty or thirty years from now.

In August, I wrote my monthly article for Monitor, Learned Information Ltd.'s newsletter edited by Harry Collier of Infonortics Ltd. One part of the article deals with a meeting held in June in Florida, and it reads something like this

There was a meeting held in June in Florida comprising 90 librarians, information scientists, and engineers, most if not all of whom could not have been over 55 year of age. How do I know this?

The meeting was titled "A Conference for Exploration of a National Engineering Information Service" (NENGIS), and it was sponsored by the Engineering Foundation and the Council on Library Resources. When I asked a reliable source person who attended the meeting whether the Engineers Joint Council (EJC) activities of the very early 1960s were discussed at the meeting, he said he never heard one motion of it. Astounding! It is very difficult to face the fact that my early experiences in information science are now history. It really hurts to realize they are forgotten history.

The EJC activities were the talk of the early 1960s, an exciting development. It was a triumvirate made up of The Engineering Foundation (yes, the very same group sponsoring the Florida meeting), The Engineering Societies Library (ESL), and Engineering Index (EI), now known as Engineering Infortmation. It was a triumvirate made in heaven - the Engineering Foundation is a consortium of engineering societies, most of whom are housed in the United Engineering Center building on the East Side of New York City, a building which also houses the ESL and until recently EI - thus, a building which housed the users, the library, and the indexes (databases).

As a first step in cooperating, EJC decided to build an engineering thesaurus. It was known as the EJC thesaurus and was meant eventually to be used by the entire engineering information community. There was a commitment to build the thesaurus but unfortunately no commitment to actually use it. True to the commitment (or lack thereof), they built one but never used it. There were interesting reasons why this project was a failure, but you will have to attend one of my "Indexing and Searching Historical Perspective" seminars to learn about them. As far as I know, EJC activities just faded away after the completion of the unused thesaurus.

I am sure there are some important records in someone's files, however, that could be useful to this new group now making a similar effort some thirty years later. I'll bet there were some motherhood statements on record similar to this quote from the current meeting: "Included in the new initiative will be efforts to raise awareness at the highest levels of governments and industry regarding the positive economic impact that effective information support systems can have on the practice of engineering."

Needless to say, this first and general meeting on the needs for a U.S. national engineering information service ended up as a neophyte attempt to get divergent groups together and ended up with the divergence and generalities you could expect from a non-focused meeting. …

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