Henriette Avram: A Pioneer in Information Science by Joan Lussky Assistant Professor The Catholic University of America School of Library and Information Science [email protected] CUA CUA-SLIS Bridging the Spectrum A Symposium on Scholarship & Practice in Library and Information Science January 30, 2009 Henriette Davidson Avram Henriette Davidson Avram Historical context Influences Achievements Successful strategy for change Historical context within the United States in the 1960s Technology The post-WWII economy Leadership The work force United States in the 1960s Technology – IBM 701 (Essentially the 2nd major computer in existence. The computer occupied a whole room.) The post-WWII economy -- a time of economic growth, introduction of many new social programs, and a surge in government funding for R&D especially in science and technology. U.S. presidents -- Kennedy (1961 – 63); Johnson (1963 – 69) Nixon (1969 – 74) The work force – beginning of formal initiatives to ensure the rights of minorities and women. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, initially designed to protect the rights of African Americans and amended to explicitly protecht women too. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was created as part of this Act. Historical context within the Library of Congress Technology Funding from Congress Leadership The work force Library of Congress in the1960s Technology – by late 1960s LC had acquired minimal computer technology: one IBM 1410 for processing payroll Funding – a general trend toward increased support by Congressional. Annual appropriations for 1958 = $11,770K; 1961 = $16,086K; 1965 = $24, 082K Leadership -- Luther Harris Evans The work force – LC’s participation in the war effort plus the increased (1945–1953) expanded the collection to 32 million – especially in the area of research and overseas material; L. Quincy Munford (1954-1974) 1st professionally trained librarian in this post, expanded the staff backlog due to Evans’ expansion of the collection stressed the staff so much that they left in droves for other federal jobs. During Mumford’s administration there were ~300 appointments and promotions which ultimately helped speedup the time it took to process new library acquisitions. Influences Early years Pre-Library of Congress Library of Congress Influences – the early years Born 1919 Father: employed as a distributor of watch-making material Mother: employed as a reporter for the Philadelphia Ledger Frequent visitor to the local public library Some coursework in pre-med at Hunter College; some coursework in mathematics at George Washington University Married Herbert Avram at the age of 21 (1941) Relocated to suburbs of DC in 1952 due to her husband’s job with the National Security Agency (NSA). Influences – Pre-LC Employed at NSA (1952-1959). Worked with Dorothy Bloom, a major influence on Avram (Pattie 1998 pp.72). There she became one of ~100 people worldwide who was programming on a computer Worked as a systems analyst and programmer for American Research Bureau and Datatrol Corporation (second U.S. software company). Also set up a computer science library at Datatrol. Influences – Dorothy T. Blum Blum introduced Avram, while at NSA, to computers and impressed upon her “the prime necessity of thoroughly understanding the subject before tackling the computer solution” (Pattie 1998 pp72). Influences – Library of Congress The James Madison Memorial Building of the Library of Congress. Avram moved here, from her previous office in the Jefferson Building, in 1980 after its construction was completed. Influences --LC In 1964, the year before Avram started work at the Library of Congress, the Information Systems staff had only two employees. In 1965, hired as a systems analyst. Now the Office had seven employees including Henriette Avram. Assigned to work with Kay Guiles (cataloging staff) and Ruth Frietag (reference staff) to develop a computer format that would “read” bibliographic information for all the library formats and different languages and alphabets embodied in LC’s collection of 32 million items. Initially met with Mumford once a week to instruct him on automation John G. Lorenz (Deputy Librarian 1965-76) and William J. Welsch (Head of Processing Department 1968-1976, Deputy Librarian 1976-88) both quite supportive of Avram’s work. She reports that “with rare exception, [they] made the impossible possible” (Pattie 1998 pp73). Influences –Librarian of Congress Quincy Munford, Librarian of Congress from 1954-1974. Achievements MARC – Machine-readable cataloging “MARC is an assemblage of formats, publications, procedures, people, standards, systems, equipment, etc. that has evolved over the years stimulating the development of library automation and information networks.” (Avram, 1975) MARC Distribution Service (1969-) --Distribution of machine-readable cataloging data. Start of computer-to-computer linking to access local/remote data. Facilitated bibliographic utilities, state and regional networks and systems for local processing of library material Cooperative cataloging initiatives -- Linked Systems Project (LSP) and National RECON Pilot Project – although ultimately not undertaken by LC, she did begin Cooperative Cataloging Program (NCCP) –designed for sharing data across bibliographic utilities & avoid costly duplication of effort. These initiatives continue today under the umbrella program: Program for Cooperative Cataloging (begun in 1993). many conversations about how to move forward with the retrospective conversion of print catalog records into machine-readable. 1969-71 LC undertook a feasibility study, funded by Council on Library Resources (CLR). Copyright of bibliographic records – another topic area where Avram initiated national conversations on ownership, digital rights, and the propriety of selling bibliographic records. MARC “To a great a great extent, Avram and [Fred] Kilgour were the two most critical pioneers in creating the ability for libraries to share metadata easily and efficiently: Avram through the development of MARC, and Kilgour as the founding director of OCLC. Between the two of them, they set the stage for an incredible revolution in libraries, as the MARCbased network became the vital underpinnings of a nation-wide collaboration that informed the last 40 years of library development.” [emphasis added by author] Hilmann, Diane I. (2006) “Taking a Fresh look at Standards” Technicalities 26(6): pp8. Achievements -- MARC MARC Format structure and data content Other elements (extended character set, the country and language codes, etc.) Accompanying publications (written, maintained, and distributed) ANSI and NISO standards MARC Distribution Service (launched in 1969) Beta test with sixteen libraries from across the country was started in 1966. The first set of MARC records were distributed on computer tapes in October of 1966. The operational distribution service was launched in March of 1969. A Sample of her Awards “[S]he has won about every top honor that can be bestowed on a librarian” (Rather & Wiggins (1989) pp 856). 1971 Margaret Mann Citation 1974 Federal Women’s Award 1981 Melville Dewey Award 1987 Honorary Fellow of IFLA 1988 Joseph W. Lippincott Award 1989 NISO Fellow 1990 Professional Award, SLA 1990 John Ames Humphrey/Forest Press Award 1992 LC Distinguished Service Award 1997 ALA Honorary Membership Successful Strategy for Change Communicate Stakeholders Standards Education Iterative Play Successful Strategy for Change “A key factor in her success had much to do with the character of the lady herself – in her typical fashion, she stepped into the world of libraries and learned libraries’ problems, adopting them as her own. She was never one to be spoon-fed by others. […] no matter how hectic things got in those pioneering days, she was writing, publishing, speaking, taking work home, advising people, and performing myriad other tasks to further the acceptance of MARC.” (Rather & Wiggins 1989 pp856) Successful Strategy for Change Communicate – talked with those around her at LC: bosses, coworkers, and librarians in other departments. Wrote numerous publication about MARC Stakeholders – reached out to the stakeholders of MARC Standards – actively pursued the adoption of MARC as a national and international standard Education -- held institutes all over the US to teach librarians MARC. First institute held in July 1968 in Seattle, Washington. First edition of MARC Manuals issued in 1969 by Library of Congress. Iterative – maintained a sustained and ongoing effort to see her vision. Play – enjoyed taking time off from work Henriette Davidson Avram Truly impressive library pioneer Lasting impact on library automation Worked tirelessly and fearlessly Appreciated that initiating and maintaining “conversations” with stakeholders was fundamental Bibliography Avram, H.D. (1975) MARC, its History and Implications. Washington, Library of Congress. Avram, H.D. (1987) “Toward a Nationwide Library Network” Journal of Library Administration. Conaway, James (2000) America’s Library: the Story of the Library of Congress 1800-2000. New Haven: Yale University Press in association with The Library of Congress. Fox, Margalit (2006) “Henriette D. Avram, Modernizer of Libraries, Dies at 86” New York Times. May 3, 2006. Hilmann, D.I. (2006) “Taking a Fresh Look at Standards” Technicalities 26(6): 8-11. Intner, S. (2007) “Passing of an Era” Technicalities 27(2):1, 3-4. Library of Congress. (1958-1965) Annual Report of the Librarian of Congress. U.S. G.P.O. Library of Congress, Program for Cooperative Cataloging (2008) “Towards a New Beginning in Cooperative Cataloging” available at: http://www.loc.gov/catdir/pcc/introduction.html Pattie, L.W. (1998) “Henriette Davidson Avram, the Great Legacy” Cataloging & Classification 25(2/3): 6781. Rather, L.J. & B. Wiggins (1989) “Close-up on the Career of a Towering Figure in Library Automation and Bibliographic Control” American Libraries 20(9): 855-859. Schudel, Matt (2006) “Henriette D. Avram; Transfomed Libraries” Washington Post. April 28, 2006.