Black leads organization of information history conference

Alistair Black
Alistair Black, Professor Emeritus

Professor Alistair Black is the lead organizer for the annual conference of the Library and Information History Group of the UK’s Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). The mission of CILIP is to support library and knowledge practitioners in promoting its vision of "a fair and economically prosperous society [that] is underpinned by literacy, access to information, and the transfer of knowledge."

In his role as conference organizer, Black developed the theme for the event, “Information History: Perspectives and Prospects,” and selected its keynote speakers:

  • Martin Campbell-Kelly, emeritus professor of computing at Warwick University in Coventry, England, who will present "Victorian Data Processing”; and
  • Toni Weller, visiting research fellow in history at De Montfort University in Leicester, England, who will present, "Exploring Information History."

The conference will be held on May 6, 2016, at the CILIP headquarters in London.

“The informatisation of our culture has prompted a lively discussion across a range of academic disciplines on topics that can justifiably be marshalled under the term ‘information history.’ While accepting that different cultures and periods of history have understood information in different ways, this conference takes its cue from modern connotations attached to the word. Such connotations revolve around the nature of information as, firstly, something of immediate functional utility and value, and secondly, as discrete units of communicated knowledge,” stated Black in the call for papers.

Black has been a full professor at GSLIS since 2009. In 2014-2015 he was named GSLIS Centennial Scholar in recognition of his outstanding accomplishments and professional promise. He also was 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).

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). His forthcoming book, Libraries of Light: British Public Library Design in the Long 1960s, is slated for publication in 2016. He is coauthor 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. With Peter Hoare, he edited Volume 3 (covering 1850-2000) of the Cambridge History of Libraries in Britain and Ireland (2006).

Black is a member of the governing committee of CILIP’s Library & Information History Group and former chair (1992-1999). He also has served as chair of the IFLA Section on Library History (2003-2007), editor of the international journal Library History (2004-2008), and North American editor of Library and Information History (2009-2013). He currently is the general editor of the journal Library Trends.

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