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Documentation science

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Documentation science, or documentation studies, is the study of the recording and retrieval of information. Documentation science gradually developed into the broader field of information science.

Paul Otlet (1868–1944) and Henri La Fontaine (1854–1943), both Belgian lawyers and peace activists, established documentation science as a field of study. Otlet, who coined the term documentation science, is the author of two treatises on the subject: Traité de Documentation (1934) and Monde: Essai d'universalisme (1935). He, in particular, is regarded as the progenitor of information science.

In the United States, 1968 was a landmark year in the transition from documentation science to information science: the American Documentation Institute became the American Society for Information Science and Technology, and Harold Borko introduced readers of the journal American Documentation to the term in his paper "Information science: What is it?". Information science has not entirely subsumed documentation science, however. Berard (2003, p. 148) writes that word documentation is still much used in Francophone countries, where it is synonymous with information science. One potential explanation is that these countries made a clear division of labour between libraries and documentation centres, and the personnel employed at each kind of institution have different educational backgrounds. Documentation science professionals are called documentalists.


1931: The International Institute for Documentation, (Institut International de Documentation, IID) was the new name for the International Institute of Bibliography (originally Institut International de Bibliographie, IIB) established on 12 September 1895, in Brussels.

1937: American Documentation Institute was founded (1968 nameshift to American Society for Information Science).

1948: S. R. Ranganathan "discovers" documentation.

1965-1990: Documentation departments were established in, for example, large research libraries with the appearance of commercial online computer retrieval systems. The persons doing the searches for clients were termed documentalists. With the appearance of first CD-ROM databases and later the internet these intermediary searches have decreased and most such departments have been closed or merged with other departments. (This is perhaps a European terminology, in the USA the term Information Centers was often used).

1986: Information service and - management started under the name "Bibliotheek en Documentaire Informatieverzorging" as third level education in The Netherlands.

1996: "Dokvit", Documentation Studies, was established in 1996 at the University of Tromsø in Norway (see Lund, 2007).

2002: The Document Academy, an international network chaired and cosponsored by The Program of Documentation Studies, University of Tromsoe, Norway and The School of Information Management and Systems, UC Berkeley.

2003: Document Research Conference (DOCAM) is a series of conferences made by the Document Academy. DOCAM '03 (2003) was The first conference in the series. It was held August 13–15, 2003 at The School of Information Management and Systems (SIMS) at the University of California, Berkeley.(See https://web.archive.org/web/20120410005416/http://thedocumentacademy.org:80/?q=node/4 ).

2004: The term Library, information and documentation studies (LID) has been suggested as an alternative to Library and information science (LIS), (cf., Rayward et al., 2004)


Documentation science Wikipedia

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