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Title:Documentation Under Duress: The Joint Conference of the International Federation for Documentation (FID) and the Association of Special Libraries and Information Bureaux (ASLIB), Oxford-London, 1938
Author(s):Muddiman, Dave
Subject(s):International Federation for Documentation (FID)
British Association of Special Libraries and Information Bureaux (Aslib)
Abstract:A joint conference of the International Federation for Documentation (FID) and Aslib (the British Association of Special Libraries and Information Bureaux) was held in Oxford and London in late September 1938. It attracted large numbers of international delegates and a cast of distinguished speakers from the world of documentation, as well as celebrities such as H. G. Wells. It is now mainly remembered because it coincided with the “Munich” crisis (September 15–30, 1938), a context that apparently caused great tension among delegates, especially in relation to the substantial contingent from Nazi Germany. However, this article, following a detailed analysis of conference presentations and debates, observes that it also marked something of a turning point in the history of documentation itself. The project of the early twentieth-century documentalists—the “universe of knowledge” and its international mobilization—was called into serious question by some speakers; a state of affairs intensified by the disintegration of international relations outside the conference doors. In the end, this article argues, the Oxford conference heralded the emergence of a new, mid–twentieth-century world information order shaped during World War II and focusing upon the primacy of national (and later) commercial interests. In 1938, the dreams and schemes of Wells, Otlet, and their followers began to be recognized, for the time being at least, as the illusions that maybe they always were.
Issue Date:2013
Publisher:Johns Hopkins University Press and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Citation Info:Library Trends 62 (3) Winter 2014: Essays in Honor of W. Boyd Rayward: Part 1: 378-401.
Publication Status:published or submitted for publication
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-05-27

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