Professor Alistair Black has been named the GSLIS Centennial Scholar for 2014-2015. The Centennial Scholar award is endowed by alumni and friends of GSLIS and given in recognition of outstanding accomplishments and/or professional promise in the field of library and information science.
A member of the GSLIS faculty since 2009, Black’s research interests include the history of librarianship and information management; the history of corporate magazines, corporate libraries, and information bureaux; and the history of library design. Presently, he is writing a book on library design in Britain in the “long” 1960s. He is the recipient of the 2013 Library History Essay Award for his article, “Organizational Learning and Home-Grown Writing: The Library Staff Magazine in Britain in the First Half of the Twentieth Century,” which appeared in Information & Culture, Volume 47, Number 4 (2012).
At GSLIS, Black teaches courses in information history, library buildings and society, historical foundations of the information society, public library history, and libraries in film. With Associate Professor Bonnie Mak, he is co-chair of the GSLIS History Salon, a forum for the exchange of ideas about the history of books, libraries, and information.
“This is a wonderful surprise. I am honored by my colleagues’ recognition of my work and wish to thank them for the strong intellectual climate they collectively provide, from which I have benefited immensely. I am tremendously grateful to GSLIS for supplying a ‘space’ conducive to developing my research interests,” said Black. The award will support Black’s work on his new book as well as work on conference presentations concerning his research on the pre-1960 history of corporate magazines and British librarians in the United States.
Black is author of the following books: A New History of the English Public Library (1996) and The Public Library in Britain 1914-2000 (2000). He is co-author of Understanding Community Librarianship (1997); The Early Information Society in Britain, 1900-1960 (2007); and Books, Buildings and Social Engineering (2009), a socio-architectural history of early public libraries in Britain. He also co-edited Volume 3 (covering 1850-2000) of the Cambridge History of Libraries in Britain and Ireland (2006).
Currently, Black is the general editor of the journal Library Trends. Previously he served as North American editor of Library and Information History (2009-2013); editor of Library History (2004-2008); chair of the IFLA Section on Library History (2003-2007); and chair of the Library History Group of the UK Library Association (1992-1999).
“GSLIS has the enormous good fortune of having one of the world’s leading historians of librarianship and information management as a member of our faculty,” said Allen Renear, GSLIS dean. “Alistair’s scholarship is not only masterful in its erudition and perfection of context and detail, but replete with insights that critically advance our understanding of the fundamental institutions and practices of the information society. His works delight as well as instruct and are, needless to say, as valuable to the larger world of historical scholarship as they are to our own field of library and information science. Like everyone else, I am eager to see what he does next.”
Black holds a PhD from London Metropolitan University. Prior to joining the GSLIS faculty he taught at Leeds Metropolitan University from 1990 to 2009.