An afternoon with the UK Electronic Information Group (UKeIG) #iishistory #ukeigmembersday2021

UKeIG logoYesterday afternoon I participated in an online meeting of the UK Electronic Information Group (UKeIG). At one time I was heavily involved in the work of this group – I served as its Honorary Secretary for a while early in my career – but this was my first attendance at such an event for some time. The two presentations that sandwiched the 2021 UKeIG AGM were my main motivation for attending the meeting.

The first presentation was about mapping information landscapes. It was delivered by Andrew (Drew) Whitworth of the University of Manchester. Drew started by explaining that his interest in this topic was inspired by the work of Annemaree Lloyd. He drew attention to the metaphor of the ‘information landscape’ as introduced in Lloyd’s 2010 book, and the argument that people need to understand their positioning within such landscapes so that they gain a sense of place before they are able to develop information literacy. (Lyndsey Middleton and I also deploy the information landscape metaphor with reference to the work of Lloyd in our recent paper Workplace information literacy: a bridge to the development of innovative work behaviour.)

The second presentation was delivered by two eminent information scientists – Martin White and Sandra Ward. They have been working on a project that they describe as their ‘private passion’ with two other well known figures in the field of Information Science: Charles Oppenheim and Val Skelton.

The two speakers explained that the team has recently been documenting the 45 year history of the of Institute of Information Scientists (IIS) to cover its formation, rise, decline, and eventual disappearance (following merger with the Library Association to form the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) in 2002). This work was prompted by a particular fear: that the body which established Information Science as both a profession and academic discipline in the UK risks going unacknowledged in the future.

Yesterday the web site for the team’s book, entitled A history of the Institute of Information Scientists 1958-2002 – evolution and impact, was launched at the UKeIG event. Currently the book stands at 60,000 words, comprising 13 chapters and 5 appendices. It represents quite an achievement given that the authors have not been able to access a full archive of IIS documents. As part of their presentation Martin and Sandra made a call to all who were ever involved in the work of the IIS to check their own archives to see if further material can be unearthed to contribute to the project, and thus extend further the book’s contents. In the meantime, the full manuscript of its first edition is freely available to download from (and I am going to scour my old back-up files over the weekend to see if I have any relevant material such as IIS meeting minutes and event publicity to contribute to the project).

I have to say that I enjoyed my afternoon as a delegate at this event. The second presentation was particularly interesting to me as someone who served on several committees of the IIS, including Scottish branch, Professional Standards, and Council. It was also great to ‘see’ colleagues who have worked with in the past, both in my time as a member of various committees (e.g. with Martin White on the programme committee of the Online conference – see Farewell online), and during my periods on secondment to TFPL in 2006 (when I worked with Sandra Ward and Val Skelton) and to the Library and Information Science Coalition between 2009 and 2012 (Charles Oppenheim was on the board for this body and we worked together on an AHRC grant over this time too).

IIS history

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