Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto - OCS, 15th INTERNATIONAL ISKO CONFERENCE

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José Augusto Chaves Guimarães, Maria Cláudia Cabrini Grácio, Daniel Martínez-Ávila, Rodrigo de Sales

Last modified: 2018-06-19


The Graduate Library School of the University of Chicago (GLS-UC) (1926-1989) played a special role in the scientific development of the Library and Information Science (LIS) field. This school institutionalized a "spirit of inquiry" (Richardson Jr, 1982) based on the German tradition of seminars as dialogical spaces for methodical inquiry in the search of scientific truths that are independent of their utilitarian applications (Richardson Jr, 2010). This aspect contributed to the construction of the episteme of a scientific field that was called by Pierce Butler (1933) "library science,” the scientific study of books and users with a social-scientific approach and the direct influence of the ideas of John Dewey (1929) in relation to the identification of the sources of a science of education. This conception of library science also brought new techniques from the quantitative social sciences to the research problems of librarianship.

In this scenario, and representing a second generation of GLS-UC faculty, Jesse Shera and Margaret Egan established an important scientific collaboration, especially in aspects related to the knowledge organization field. Egan and Shera (1952) coined the term of Social Epistemology as a field of study related to the social production, distribution, and utilization of intellectual products in such a way that the “informed social action” acts as the main goal of library service, by means of the evaluation of bibliographic services; and supported by a theoretical framework from the study of information-seeking behavior, knowledge organization, and bibliometrics (Furner, 2004; Zandonade, 2004). Shera and Egan (1956) also brought other contributions to the North American Knowledge Organization literature such as the general principles for the construction and maintenance of systematic or classified catalogs, an “uncommon device of American bibliothecal organizations” (Custer, 1957, p.122) that were more devoted to the Cutter’s tradition of dictionary catalogs.

Our paper aims to analyze the influence of Egan and Shera in the scientific production in Knowledge Organization based on the citations that these authors receive in the literature. Our methodology is based on the idea of “the power to influence” used by Wolfram (2016) in knowledge organization for his ego-centric citation analysis of Hope Olson (and whose most well-known work “The power to name” inspired Wolfram’s title). Ego-centric citation analysis (White, 2000) was used as a way to verify “the influence of an individual, publication or journal based on the references they provide in their own work, the citations their works receive and the works and people with whom they are co-cited” (Wolfram, 2016, p.332), following three approaches: citation identity (all the authors that a citing author cites), citation image makers (authors who cite a certain author), and citation image (authors with whom a certain author has been co-cited). Other examples of ego-centered bibliometric analyses of prominent knowledge organization authors include those of MP Satija (Swain 2009), S.R. Ranganathan (Smiraglia 2013), and Paul Otlet (Rodríguez-Bravo et al 2017). While citation analysis can be considered a way to represent social knowledge organization systems (Hjørland, 2013), we believe our paper also falls under the category of domain analysis as bibliometric studies is one of the valid approaches to domain analysis sanctioned by Hjørland (2002, 2017).

In this sense, we searched records that cited works coauthored by Jesse Shera and Margaret Egan in the database Scopus using the following retrieval profile: [REFAUTH (shera) AND REFAUTH (egan)]. By October 17th, 2017, we retrieved 13 records coauthored by Shera and Egan that after disambiguation resulted in five works receiving a total of 82 citations: “Foundations of a theory of bibliography” (1952), with 56 citations; “A review of the present state of librarianship and documentation” (editions of 1953, 1961 - in Portuguese -, 1966, and 1971), with nine citations (seven citations for the 1953 edition and one citation the other editions); “Prolegomena to bibliographic control” (1949) and “Bibliographic organization” (1952), with six citations each; and “The classified catalog; basic principles and practices” (1956), with 5 citations. In a second stage, we selected the citing papers whose titles suggested a link to knowledge organization and we analyzed the authors that were most co-cited with Shera and Egan, the main venues for publication, and the years of publication in order to analyze the permeability (power to influence) of the two authors in the KO field. In a third stage, we also considered the possibility of conducting a content analysis.

The results show that, among all the authors citing these five works, Tarcísio Zandonade is one of the most important contributors (image creator) to the image of Shera and Egan as scientific collaborators, as he cited three of the analyzed works by Shera and Egan: "A review of the present state of librarianship and documentation," "Bibliographic Organization," and "Prolegomena to bibliographic control." Jonathan Furner also plays an important role as he used two of the analyzed works in his research: "A review of the present state of librarianship and documentation" and "Prolegomena to bibliographic control." Finally, Jack Andersen is also an important image creator as he based several of his papers on "Foundations of a theory of bibliography." Citations appeared more frequently in the ISKO publications - "Knowledge Organization" and "Advances of Knowledge Organization" -, the journal "Library Trends," and, to a lesser extent, the journal “Cataloging & Classification Quarterly.” The authors that were most co-cited with the analyzed works by Shera and Egan are: Steve Fuller, Birger Hjørland, and William Goffman. Other important authors that also contributed to the creation of the citation image of the scientific collaboration between Shera and Egan, although with less co-citations, include: Jenna Hartel, W. Boyd Rayward, Jack Andersen, John Budd, Michel Foucault, and Thomas J. Froehlich.



Butler, Lee Pierce (1933). An introduction to library science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Custer, Benjamin A. (1957). “The Classified Catalog. Jesse H. Shera, Margaret E. Egan,” Library Quarterly 27, no. 2: 122-123.

Dewey, John (1929). The sources of a science of education. New York: Liveright.

Egan, Margaret E. and Jesse Hauk Shera (1949). “Prolegomena to bibliographic control,” Journal of Cataloging and Classification 5, no.2: 17–19.

Egan, Margaret E. and Jesse Hauk Shera (eds.) (1951). “Bibliographic organization.” Papers presented before the Fifteenth Annual Conference of the Graduate Library School, July 24–29, 1950. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Egan, Margaret E. and Jesse Hauk Shera (1952). “Foundations of a theory of bibliography,” Library Quarterly 22: 125–137.

Egan, Margaret E. and Jesse Hauk Shera (1953). “A review of the present state of librarianship and documentation.” In: S. C. Bradford (Ed.), Documentation (2nd ed., pp. 11–45). London: Crosby Lockwood.

Furner, Jonathan (2004). “‘A Brilliant Mind’: Margaret Egan and Social Epistemology,” Library Trends 52, no.4: 792-809.

Hjørland, Birger (2002). “Domain analysis in Information science: eleven approaches - traditional as well as innovative,” Journal of Documentation 58, no.4: 422-462.

Hjørland, Birger (2013). “Citation Analysis: A Social and Dynamic Approach to Knowledge Organization.” Information Processing and Management 49: 1313-25.

Hjørland, Birger (2017). “Domain Anlysis.” In: Encyclopedia of Knowledge Organization http://www.isko.org/cyclo/domain_analysis

Richardson Jr., John V. (1982). The spirit of inquiry: the Graduate Library School at Chicago, 1921-1951. Chicago: American Library Association.

Richardson, Jr., John V. (2010). “History of American Library Science: Its Origins and Early Development.” In: Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences. Third Edition. Edited by Marcia J. Bates and Mary Niles Maack. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2-6.

Rodríguez Bravo, Blanca, Simões, Maria and Daniel Martínez-Ávila (2017). “The influence of Documentation pioneer Paul Otlet on Spanish speaking and Portuguese speaking authors.” Paper presented at ISKO France 2017.

Shera, Jesse Hauk and Margaret E. Egan (1956). The classified catalog; basic principles and practices. Chicago; ALA.

Smiraglia, Richard P. (2013). “Prolegomena to a New Order: A Domain-Analytical Review of the Influence of S.R. Ranganathan on Knowledge Organization,” SRELS Journal of Information Management 50, no.6: 709-719.

Swain, N.K. (2009). “The Scientometric Portrait of Professor M. P. Satija.” In: Library & Information Science in Digital Age: Essays in Honour of Prof. M.P. Satija, New Delhi, Ess Ess, 11-21.

White, Howard D. (2000). “Toward Ego-centered Citation Analysis.” In: The Web of Knowledge, ed. Blaise Cronin and Helen Barsky Atkins. ASIS Monograph Series.  Medford, NJ: Information Today, 475-96.

Wolfram, Dietmar (2016). “The Power to Influence: An Informetric Analysis of the Works of Hope Olson.” Knowledge Organization 43, no.5: 331-337.

Zandonade, Tarcísio. (2004). “Social epistemology from Jesse Shera to Steve Fuller,” Library Trends 52, no.4: 810-832.