The Early Information Society : Information Management in Britain before the Computer book cover
1st Edition

The Early Information Society
Information Management in Britain before the Computer

ISBN 9781138276499
Published November 28, 2016 by Routledge
302 Pages

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Book Description

Whether termed the 'network society', the 'knowledge society' or the 'information society', it is widely accepted that a new age has dawned, unveiled by powerful computer and communication technologies. Yet for millennia humans have been recording knowledge and culture, engaging in the dissemination and preservation of information. In `The Early Information Society', the authors argue for an earlier incarnation of the information age, focusing upon the period 1900-1960. In support of this they examine the history and traditions in Britain of two separate but related information-rich occupations - information management and information science - repositioning their origins before the age of the computer and identifying the forces driving their early development. `The Early Information Society' offers an historical account which questions the novelty of the current information society. It will be essential reading for students, researchers and practitioners in the library and information science field, and for sociologists and historians interested in the information society.

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Part I Overview: The information society before the computer, Alistair Black and Dave Muddiman. Part II Infrastructure, Networks and the State: Science, industry and the state: scientific and technical information in early 20th-century Britain, Dave Muddiman; The history and development of ASLIB, 1924-1960, Dave Muddiman. Part III The Management of Information in the Early Information Economy: A pre-history of the learning organisation: information and knowledge management before the digital age, Alistair Black; Enterprise and intelligence: the early company library in context, Alistair Black. Part IV The Information Workforce: Education for the early information professions in Britain, c1918-1961, Helen Plant; Women's employment in industrial libraries and information bureaux in Britain c1918-1960, Helen Plant. Part V Conclusion: Reconsidering the chronology of the information age, Alistair Black and Dave Muddiman; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.

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Alistair Black is Professor of Library and Information History and Dave Muddiman is Associate Principle Lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University, UK. Helen Plant is a Project Officer at the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE), Leicester, UK.


'Like all good historians, Black, Muddiman and Plant bring to vivid life what has passed out of current memory, in this case a number of startling developments in information management in Britain in the first half of the twentieth century, long before computers emerged on the scene. The stories they tell are fascinating. Their analyses are subtle, crisp and provocative. Their scholarship is impeccable. This highly original work raises profoundly important questions about the relationship between society, industry, the economy and regimes of information management that take us far beyond the slick formulas of today’s pundits of the information age. A must read!' W. Boyd Rayward, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, US 'The enormous imperative of now leads us to ignore history. Inhabiting the new Information Society, the pressing need is to adapt so that we may prosper. The past scarcely seems relevant. If you think that, then you need this book. Things aren’t so novel when scholars look carefully at where we’ve come from. The Early Information Society traces the origins of the Information Age in Britain, the real history in which a national information infrastructure was established between the late 19th and the 1930s, when information professions came into being, and when deep gender divisions held sway. What is this novelty, the Information Society? Reading this history book will surely provoke questions about the here and now'. Frank Webster, City University London, UK 'I am sure that this book should find its way to every library serving librarianship and information science or similar departments.' Information Research, Review no R297, 2008 '...this book is a useful and valuable resource for both the study of the history of information professions and the history of the emergence of the information society.' Libraries & the Cultural Record, Issue 43:3, 2008 'The authors of The Early Information Society combine both the skills of the hi