In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Editor's Note:Changes to the Journal
  • William Aspray (bio)

This issue witnesses a number of changes for the journal: a new title, a new scope of coverage, and a new editor. For the past six years, Libraries & the Cultural Record has principally focused on library history but occasionally covered other topics that fall under what the previous editor, David Gracy, calls the history of the "information domain." By that term, David meant the history of archives, museums, conservation, and information science, in addition to library history. In the journal's new configuration, as Information & Culture: A Journal of History, it will continue to publish in all of these areas but will also expand the scope to the entire history of information, as broadly conceived.

Over the past decade, there has been a major change in the library and information school community. The so-called information school, or iSchool, movement has broadened the set of topics that are covered and has vastly expanded the use of technological and social science approaches, in addition to the humanities approaches that have been the hallmark of library studies. The School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin, long the institutional home of this journal, is one of the library and information schools that have been transformed by this movement, and the intention is that Information & Culture will be faithful to the mission of its home institution. Thus, it will cover the history of any topic that might be taught or researched in this or other iSchools.

The term "information history" is shorthand for what Information & Culture will publish. There are few people today who actually call themselves "information historians," and the boundaries of a field of study called "information history" have yet to be determined. This is a work in progress, and Information & Culture is delighted to be part of the defining process. Perhaps as time goes by, what falls within the boundaries of information history will become clearer. Some things are already clear. Information history is about many topics, including:

  • information institutions, not only libraries, archives, and museums but also other kinds of institutions, such as for-profit, nonprofit, governmental, and educational institutions, as well as think tanks, that have a major role in producing or disseminating information; [End Page 1]

  • information businesses, which vary widely in the range of products and services they offer as well as in whether they offer content or provide conduits for the flow of information;

  • everyday information, which is important in people's daily lives in homes and offices as well as in third places such as coffee shops and social clubs;

  • information work and workers, whether employed by nonprofit libraries or for-profit software firms, or by firms that are not primarily information businesses but that employ workers who do various kinds of information work;

  • professionalization, that is, how information work and study become professionalized through tools such as educational programs, professional societies, codes of ethics, conferences, and journals;

  • artifacts, ranging from books to computers and far beyond;

  • the organization of information, whether it is a classification system in a library, a flow chart in a software program, or a presentation scheme for the London Underground subway system;

  • the information domains, that is, academic fields of study, ranging widely from library science and archival studies to computer engineering to operations research;

  • concepts and theories such as the information society and the Shannon-Weaver conceptualization of information.

Indeed, information history is about all these and many other topics. Information history admits many kinds of historical approaches, including but not limited to intellectual, social, cultural, economic, business, labor, and gender history. What is common across these many kinds of study is that they are about the interactions among information, organizations, technology, and people in some fundamental way. It is to emphasize the role of people in interaction with information that the journal includes the word "culture" in its title.

Understandably, some library historians have been unhappy with the change in scope described here, for it reduces the amount of space for library history in one of the top publication venues in their field. However, other library historians have welcomed the change because of the opportunity...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2166-3033
Print ISSN
2164-8034
Pages
pp. 1-3
Launched on MUSE
2012-03-10
Open Access
No
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