From Cataloguers To Designers V2 Green Chameleon

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Patrick Lambe: From Cataloguers to Designers
From Cataloguers to Designers: Paul Otlet, social impact and a more proactive
role for knowledge organisation professionals
Patrick Lambe, Straits Knowledge, Singapore
Abstract
In the early 20th century, Paul Otlet carved out a role for bibliography and
documentation as a force for positive social change. While his ideals appeared to be
utopian to many of his contemporaries, his activism and vision foreshadowed the
potential (for good and evil) of the World Wide Web. This paper discusses the role
that KO professionals could play in enhancing the positive social impact of the web of
knowledge, and how our roles are shifting from the more passive role of descriptive
cataloguers, to proactive designers of positive and productive knowledge
environments

1. Introduction
I should clarify my intent in this paper with some working definitions

By “cataloguer” I mean a person who makes a systematic list of items, often of the
same type. The cataloguer may add descriptive detail to enrich the list, such as
various characteristics and attributes of the items in the list, or relationships with other
items within the same list or in other lists. But essentially the task of a cataloguer is a
descriptive one. The cataloguer describes the world as it is

By “designer” I mean a person who plans the look or workings of something prior to
it being made, by preparing drawings or plans. These plans may also be enriched by
descriptive detail, but the task of the designer is a future-oriented task, describing the
world as it could be, or in some cases as it should be. In this sense the work of the
designer can be prescriptive and future-shaping in a way that the work of the
cataloguer is not

Those of us who entered the profession of knowledge organisation from the library
and information sciences are formed in the descriptive disciplines of cataloguing

Even when we are tasked with designing, let us say, a taxonomy for a given purpose,
our orientation is still a descriptive one. We gather the evidence and warrant for how
the domain we are covering should be modelled based on current practice and need;
we apply standards or we negotiate standards against the current variation of language
and structure. Much of what we do is focused on identifying the seeds of order and
consistency in the domains we supervise, and on stabilising and projecting or
amplifying that order (Lambe 2007)

We do not typically see ourselves as inventers of order but as its discoverers and
protectors, or as Brian Vickery would have it, problem-solvers around the flow of
information and provision of knowledge in society (Robinson and Bawden 2012). In a
less expansive frame, Vickery claimed that the descriptive work of the information
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Patrick Lambe: From Cataloguers to Designers
profession should maintain a rigid separation from the active work of knowledge
creation and organisation, represented by scholars and encyclopaedists (Vickery
2008; Lambe 2012: 262)

A designer’s orientation tends more towards invention. A designer begins with a need
or a desired outcome. There are discovery techniques to be sure in finding the most
fruitful pathway towards the desired goal, but designers see the present not as a source
of order to be stabilised and amplified, but as a collection of resources, affordances
and constraints to be exploited or overcome (Alexander 1964; Gregory 1966; Simon
1969). As Bucolo and Matthews put it, “Design brings a different way of thinking,
doing things and tackling problems to generate novel solutions.” (Bucolo and
Matthews 2011)

The theme of the ISKO UK 2015 conference is “Knowledge Organization - Making a
Difference: the impact of knowledge organization on society, scholarship and
progress”. The world we live in is complex and messy, and the domain we work in –
knowledge organisation – is itself growing in complexity

In this context I want to argue that in order to make a difference and have an impact
in the world as the conference title suggests, it would be highly advantageous to
knowledge organisation professionals to adopt more of a designer’s orientation and to
acquire design skills and competencies. This will be challenging, because we are not
typically formed professionally as designers, and because the world still needs, and
constantly reinforces the need for the cataloguing orientation

2. Can Cataloguing and Design Orientations Coexist? The Case of Paul Otlet
The cataloguing orientation and the design orientation appear to be in tension with
each other. This is not to claim that they are incommensurate. We routinely manage
past, present and future orientations in our personal lives. While we may have biases
in these orientations, we resolve them in the everyday decisions we take in governing
our lives. This mechanism is less obvious in our professional lives, which are often
functionally partitioned, either by accident or design

For an example of the marriage of a cataloguing perspective with a future-oriented
activist perspective, there is no more outstanding case that that of the Belgian Paul
Otlet (1868-1944), one of the fathers of information science. He is outstanding for his
vision and prescience as well as for his uncharacteristically activist stance for our
profession

Otlet’s life work was devoted to the design of a new world order, and he worked at
every level of granularity, from the collection of documentation and cultural artefacts,
to the development of cataloguing standards and classification schemes, to
cooperative cataloguing networks, to institutional reform and international institution-
building (Rayward, 2003; Van den Heuvel 2009; Wright 2014). Otlet saw cataloguing
as fundamental to design, and he saw the work of the cataloguer and the work of the
designer as not merely congruent, but inseparable

However, Otlet was a positivist in the school of Auguste Comte. As eloquently
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Patrick Lambe: From Cataloguers to Designers
summarised by Otlet’s great evangeliser W. Boyd Rayward (Rayward 1975: 25-6):
The essence of Positivism as developed in the middle of the nineteenth
century by Auguste Comte, lay in the Law of Three Stages and the
Classification of the Sciences. The Law of the Three Stages asserted that as
the mind developed, it passed through a stage of theological explanation of the
world, to a stage of metaphysical explanation, to the final positive stage where
all could be explained in terms of scientific truth. As the mind progressed
through these stages, it did so in a definite order of disciplines which became
increasingly interdependent and complex. At the first level stood mathematics,
followed by physics and chemistry, then came biology, and everything that
came before culminated in psychology and sociology. Sociology, the queen of
sciences, was viewed as a «unifying» science. What was of primary
importance for the positivist philosopher was the formation of a «subjective
synthesis» of positive knowledge as a way of envisaging and directing the
development of society

Otlet, along with many fin de siècle Europeans, shared this view of the natural
progression of humankind through the growth and integration of knowledge. In the
Comtian view, the work of knowledge organisation and integration (for Otlet,
documentation was the primary vehicle for this task) was integral to supporting the
progress of humanity towards its higher destiny

Indeed, Otlet found in this vision the motivation for most of his foundational ideas in
information science, and he held to them notwithstanding the terrible counter-
evidence provided by the brutality of the First World War. As a Belgian, Otlet saw the
War at first hand, and lost his younger sons to it. In fact, in the aftermath of the War
he became more than ever convinced of the power of knowledge integration to
overcome what he saw as the self-interested diplomatic squabbling of governments
(Wright 2014: 147)

In this sense, Otlet’s activism and future orientation was not consistent with the
modern view of design as an activity that creates a desired future. It was much more
about uncovering the desired future, from an intrinsic capability that was already
implicitly present. In the positivist worldview, the design in question is a natural
design built into the structure of knowledge and of human society, and the cataloguer
does not so much create the future as enable it

To put it another way, Otlet’s positivism allowed him to perceive order in the future
through the present. The work of cataloguing, collection development, institution
building, and envisioning of world cities and transnational governments, were all part
of a hierarchy of activities geared towards uncovering an order that was already
implicit in the present. This explains why the work of cataloguing can be framed as
radically future-oriented, in a way that now seems quite foreign

Otlet’s activism and future orientation was an idealist one and not a pragmatic, purely
inventive one. However, his positivist worldview provided a strong connection
between the cataloguing role of the knowledge organization professional and an
activist, future-creating design role. In our time, in the absence of a positivist
worldview, we need another mechanism to make this connection

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Patrick Lambe: From Cataloguers to Designers
3. What is the Role of Ethics in Knowledge Organisation?
Alex Wright begins his biography of Paul Otlet with a troubling vignette. He
describes a meeting in December 1940 between Otlet and Hugo Andres Krüss,
Director General of the Prussian State Library, and member of the Reichsleiter
Rosenberg Taskforce – the body appointed by the Nazis to appropriate cultural
property from Nazi-occupied territories

Krüss was responsible for the bibliographic arm of the Taskforce’s operations, and he
was meeting Otlet as a prelude to the removal of Otlet’s 15 million item catalogue,
the Universal Bibliography, and a selection of documents and ephemera of interest to
the Taskforce. In the process, the Nazis discarded and destroyed sixty-three tons of
material that they considered “rubbish” (Wright 2014: 3-11; Rayward 1975: 361)

Hugo Krüss was no gangster. He was a distinguished librarian (Schochow 1995). He
had played a leading role in the founding of IFLA in 1927 (De Vries 1976: 8),
oversaw the production of the German Union Catalogue in 1931 (Bohrmann 1989),
and was active in the committees of the League of Nations, and in international
bibliographic congresses. He had last met Otlet in October 1937 at a Documentation
Congress in Paris (Wright 2014: 3)

Krüss had also been actively involved in supporting the Nazi agenda, had vocally
supported the Nazi book-burnings of February 1933, and in 1934 spoke out against
the “Library of burnt books” (Deutsche Freiheitsbibliothek) established in Paris as a
haven for the books banned and burnt by the Nazis (Haase 2000: 87). This library
would eventually be destroyed by German troops on the occupation of Paris in 1940

We have in fact a long history of professional complicity in the destruction of, or
restriction of access to knowledge. The Chinese emperors, beginning with Qin
Shihuangde, routinely eradicated the libraries and the scholarship of the preceding
dynasty, and established their own, to be echoed in Mao’s Cultural Revolution (Stille
2002: 52; Polastron 2007). The eradication of knowledge as a form of cultural or
ideological control is a characteristic of totalitarian regimes. While there are many
instances of library professionals (and citizens) subverting the auto da fé through
preservation in secret, it is difficult to see how the cleansing regimes could have
performed their tasks so thoroughly without professional help, from those such as
Hugo Krüss

Let us take an example closer to home. POPLINE is the world’s biggest database on
reproductive health, with about a third of a million articles. It is funded by the federal
agency USAID, and managed by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. If you
do a search in its database today under “abortion” you’ll find over 7,800 articles

Between February and April 2008, you wouldn’t have found any articles

In February 2008, staff at USAID (which at that time had a reputation for enforcing
the conservative anti-abortion views of the Bush administration) contacted POPLINE
administrators to express concern about two articles they had found on the database
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Patrick Lambe: From Cataloguers to Designers
which were about abortion advocacy. POPLINE reviewed the articles, decided they
didn’t fit with the database’s collection policy, and removed them

But it seems the database and taxonomy administrators didn’t want to be caught out
like that again. So they then took a decision of their own, to make “abortion” a stop-
word. A stop word is a word that a search engine decides doesn’t exist. They were
introduced to help search engines ignore non-meaningful terms like “and”, “the”, “of”

In the case of POPLINE, the stop word tactic was used to make a concept disappear

The rest of the knowledgebase on abortion was still there, but undiscoverable using
the term “abortion” in the search box

The library and research community took some time to react. It was only at the end of
March 2008 that medical librarian listserves started discussing the mystery. One of
them shared how one of their researchers had written to POPLINE to ask about the
mysterious disappearance and got the following reply:
Yes we did make a change in POPLINE. We recently made all abortion terms
stop words. As a federally funded project, we decided this was best for now

In addition to the terms you’re already using, you could try using ‘Fertility
Control, Postconception’. This is the broader term to our ‘Abortion’ terms and
most records have both in the keyword fields. Also, adding ‘unwanted w2
pregnancy’ in place of aborti*. We have a keyword Pregnancy, Unwanted and
there are 2517 records with aborti* & unwanted w2 pregnancy

The library community erupted. By early April the New York Times was covering the
story, and reported that the Dean of the Public Health School had ordered the database
folks to reintroduce “abortion” into the English language, and was setting up an
inquiry into how such a decision had been taken (Pear 2008; Mai 2008; Walden 2008)

Jens-Erik Mai, a professor at the University of Toronto stepped above the reflexive
outrage of the library community, and made this remark: “this example highlight [sic]
a more important principle – the ethical dimension of KO. Regardless of whether one
agrees with the politics behind removing the abortion category and thereby
eliminating the concept from the vocabulary; one needs to ask what is wrong and
what is right in this regard – and more importantly, one needs to ask, who or what
determines what is wrong and right.” (Mai 2008)

And this is my point: without an ethical frame, the work of knowledge organization
becomes a tool of whichever ideology is powerful enough to coopt it. Without an
ethical frame, there is no reference that allows us to reason in favour of compliance,
protest or resistance. We are left with visceral responses and not reasoned ones. And
the work of knowledge organization is far-reaching. It clearly has ethical dimensions

At the heart of Bowker and Star’s magisterial book Sorting things out is a study of the
active role of classification in supporting and enforcing the apartheid regime in South
Africa (Bowker and Star 1999). In my book Organising knowledge, in the cases of
Victoria Climbié and Vivian Alvarez I explore the dreadful consequences that can
ensue from failures in knowledge organization (Lambe 2007: 50-7). We are
implicated ethically by the work we do, whether we have an ethical stance or not

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Patrick Lambe: From Cataloguers to Designers
This is not a universally accepted argument. While the literature is sparse on the
ethical implications of the more technical aspects of our work (Shoemaker 2015),
there is a broader literature in the library profession, where since the 1980s there has
been significant progress in developing professional codes of ethics (Foster and
Mcmenemy 2012). However even in that domain there is a strong tradition of so-
called “ethical neutrality” (Foskett 1962; Hauptman 1976; Hauptman 1996; Branum
2014). In Foskett’s famous words, “During reference service, the librarian ought
virtually to vanish as an individual person, except in so far as his personality sheds
light on the working of the library. He must be the reader’s alter ego, immersed in his
politics, his religion, his morals” (Foskett 1962: 10)

Now Foskett’s position was not in broad terms ethically neutral. His exposition of a
“librarian’s philosophy” is rooted in Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Librarianship, and
is implicitly ethical in its orientation of service to community, employers and clients,
and of providing access to the collective memory. He speaks passionately of
librarianship as “the very negation of the predatory society towards which we are
rushing, where all the old truths have taken on a new, more terrible significance:
where it is every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost, where the race does
go to the strong, and the weak do go to the wall’ (Foskett 1962: 13)

Nevertheless, the very fact that a debate about neutrality exists is striking. When this
is combined with an ethic of responsive service as distinct from proactive anticipation
of need, it is easy to see why there might be a certain ethical passivism in the
profession. The activist librarian and cataloguer Sandford Berman is a very rare
exception. Absent an activist, future-oriented stance, there is little motivation or
indeed personal or institutional capacity to actively explicate and enforce ethical
codes of practice in the knowledge and information professions (Wong 2004)

Let us return to the theme of the ISKO UK 2015 conference, “making a difference”

Hugo Krüss, Paul Otlet and the Popline taxonomy administrators all satisfied the
technical meaning of that phrase. They all made a difference. As a profession we need
an ethical frame in order to discriminate which kind of difference we want to make,
and whether it should be considered beneficial or sinister. Indeed, having an ethical
frame is considered foundational to the nature of a profession, and this is normally
embedded in a professional code of practice (Abbott 1988: 9-20; Mason, Mason and
Culnan 1995)

While many knowledge professionals would not disagree with this claim, my
argument here is that having a generalized ethical frame is insufficient to actually
have impact in the world, when that frame is essentially passive in nature. As a
profession we need an orientation and a toolset that gives us the both the rationale and
the capability to engage with the world to effect change

This is why a design orientation is important to knowledge organization professionals,
because a design orientation is activist, future-oriented, and geared towards desired
goals. Moreover, it delivers the skills to envision and bring about a desired future
state. As long as our stance is a descriptive one, oriented towards ordering and
cataloguing the present, we do not as a profession develop the capacity or the skills to
change the present in favour of a desired, beneficial future. That capacity and those
skills are cultivated in the discipline of design

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Patrick Lambe: From Cataloguers to Designers
Taking an ethical stance – if that stance is essentially passive in orientation – is
meaningless without also developing the skills and practices of design. Without these
skills and practices, and the capability for a more activist ethical stance, we are
vulnerable to becoming the tools, through action or omission, of whatever ideology
happens to control our purse strings or our institutions

4. The World Wide Web: Otlet Vindicated?
In 1991, as Tim Berners-Lee was working in Switzerland to build the architecture of
the World Wide Web, pre-eminent Otlet scholar W. Boyd Rayward gave a
presentation at a conference in Finland describing a number of historical schemes to
integrate and link information resources for the benefit of society, from the British
John Dury in 1640s England, by way of Leibniz’s Encyclopaediae Perfectae and
Otlet’s “Office of Documentation” to H.G. Well’s vision of the “World Brain”

The stimulus for Rayward’s three hundred year historical traverse was the new
potential of the emerging hypertext and hypermedia systems to fulfill the vision of
these figures, and specifically to unlock and connect the information resources locked
in the professional siloes of libraries, archives and museums (Rayward 1994a)

And at face value, Otlet’s vision of interconnected information resources, comprising
media of many different kinds, available world-wide through common protocols and
standards, seems prescient (Rayward 1994b; Van den Heuvel 2009; Van den Heuvel
2010; Wright 2014: 268-294)

Beneath the surface, however, there are also striking differences between Otlet’s
vision and the manifestation of the World Wide Web. As early as 1994, Rayward was
pointing out that Otlet, in sharp contrast to modern approaches to information
retrieval, “displayed little or no interest in the user, other than in an extremely
generalised sense. He certainly gave little or no sign of having a concept of user needs
as we now understand them. His orientation was, on the face of it, completely
different” (Rayward 1994b)

Otlet’s vision of the mechanics of knowledge decomposition and recombination
depended upon a top-down system of scholarly validation that is quite different from
the demotic and participative nature of the Web as we know it today (Van den Heuvel
2009). And yet at the same time, the vision for the Semantic Web, and the instruments
of Linked Data and RDF triples echo some of “the instruments and protocols
envisioned by Otlet to enhance collaborative knowledge production” (Van den
Heuvel 2009). In fact, the very looseness of conceptual and vocabulary control on the
Web poses serious problems for scholarship (Van den Heuvel 2009: 215):
Researchers in the humanities and social sciences for the greater part use
small, heterogeneous datasets that are often highly ambiguous in meaning

Especially humanities and social sciences scholars are often concerned with
how meaning is created, communicated, manipulated and perceived. Therefore
the cyberinfrastructures around such datasets require both sufficient
information to generalize findings and tools to put these into context, for
example by using annotation. This requires an infrastructure that allows both
7
Patrick Lambe: From Cataloguers to Designers
for critical mass and standardization and for heterogeneity and
contextualization

Both Paul Otlet and Hugo Krüss, in different ways, embodied and enacted models of
control that are sharply at odds with the emergent nature of the World Wide Web –
for Otlet, it was bibliographic control, and for Krüss, control of the knowledge
resources themselves

The Web has manifested an additional dimension, an information and knowledge
infrastructure that is uncontrolled or only incompletely controlled. Lawrence Lessig
has written about the dynamic tensions in cyberspace between openness and control

He has described the initial emergence of the Web as “the unplanned displacement of
a certain architecture of control” by heady visions of freedom and anarchy, only to be
followed by the gradual establishment of a new and largely hidden architecture of
control (Lessig 2006: 2-5)

The tension between control and freedom, between order and disorder, characterize
the World Wide Web in a manner unanticipated by Otlet. It is here that the task of
design in knowledge organization comes into play. As cataloguers we are, as was
Otlet, exponents of control. We are unversed in the landscapes of emergence and lack
of control

Think of the vocabulary we use in our professional lives to describe the range of our
approaches to taxonomies and classification schemes: pre-coordination and post-
coordination. In both instances, we develop taxonomic structures that either predict
the placement of a concept in advance, or predict the conceptual and ordering
framework into which a concept or entity should fit when we encounter it

Neither instance fully accommodates a wholly or partially uncoordinated information
environment where meaning emerges spontaneously from patterns of behavior (as
instantiated by patterns such as “people who bought this book also bought …” or the
statistical correlations uncovered by so called “Big Data” analytics)

Designers, by contrast, are versed in the art of creating meaning and function from a
disordered universe. The World Wide Web has expanded our universe and we need to
develop the skills to match

5. The Implications of the Web For Our Work
The framework below attempts to express the dynamics and tensions of the
information and knowledge environment that we work within. Many of us work
within enclosed, organizational contexts. However, since the 1990s, the changes in
those internal, mostly-controlled information environments have been driven by the
dynamics of the wider environment represented by the World Wide Web. The Web
drives us, and the challenges of design produced by the Web will drive the skills and
capabilities we will need in our narrower organizational lives

The framework shows two sets of competing polarities: on the horizontal axis, there is
a polarity between Disorder and Order. “Disorder” refers to the absence of centralized
8
Patrick Lambe: From Cataloguers to Designers
control, and so more properly means a domain of competing orders, while “Order”
refers to a single source of active, centralized control. On the vertical axis there is a
polarity between Sequestration and the Commons. “Sequestration” refers to the
enclosure of resources for the purposes of control and economic exploitation. The
“Commons” refers to the idea that certain goods are held in common and should be
accessible to all. The relevance of having an ethical stance should be clear from this
vertical polarity

Figure 1: A framework for thinking about the role of KO professionals
Let us begin in the region with which we are most familiar, the right hand side, the
domain of Order

As knowledge organization professionals we are formed in, and work mainly in an
ordered domain, or in a domain that we presume should be ordered. There are
varieties of activity here, depending on the ends to which our labours are put, and we
have developed instruments that, deliberately or not, enable either sequestration or the
commons

5.1 Dictatorships
Dictatorships are a social phenomenon characteristic of sequestration and order. They
sequester resources for the exploitation of the ruling elite, and they impose
instruments of order and control to those ends. In knowledge organization terms,
single-hierarchy pre-coordinated classification schemes are the instruments of choice
in this domain, because they are particularly amenable to the expression of a single,
privileged perspective on the knowledge domain. Knowledge organization
professionals also serve in this domain, and we might take Hugo Krüss as an extreme
exemplar

9
Patrick Lambe: From Cataloguers to Designers
5.2 Utopias
Utopias are a social construct expressive of organization for the general interests of
the commons. That they have consistently failed to produce sustained value for their
members does not diminish their attractiveness. The language of the early World
Wide Web, coming as it did after the heady disintegration of the Soviet bloc in 1989,
carried particularly utopian resonances. As Lessig puts it (Lessig 2006: 3):
The claim for cyberspace was not just that government would not regulate
cyberspace—it was that government could not regulate cyberspace

Cyberspace was, by nature, unavoidably free. Governments could threaten, but
behavior could not be controlled; laws could be passed, but they would have
no real effect. There was no choice about what kind of government to install—
none could reign. Cyberspace would be a society of a very different sort

There would be definition and direction, but built from the bottom-up. The
society of this space would be a fully self-ordering entity, cleansed of
governors and free from political hacks

Paul Otlet belongs firmly in the utopian space, and it is no accident that he laid the
foundations for post-coordination in classification schemes. The 1990s enthusiasm for
universal ontology-building also belongs to this domain. Ontologies, and their less
sophisticated relatives, faceted taxonomies, are instruments that explicitly enable the
taking of multiple perspectives on the same domain, disabling the dominance of a
single, privileged perspective

“Utopian” is also often understood as a synonym for “unrealistic”. Historically,
property held in common has always been subjected to the pressures of sequestration,
because communities are not typically very efficient in their exploitation of common
resources, a phenomenon known as “the tragedy of the commons” (Hardin 1968). But
enclosure of resources for the purposes of economic exploitation often poses strong
ethical dilemmas

The enclosure of common land by big landowners in Scotland in the 18th century was
on the one hand seen as a necessity for enhancing the overall economic productivity
and prosperity of society, but on the other hand resulted in ruinous hardship for
dispossessed tenants and labourers. The arguments for sequestration are that it is
necessary for the requisite levels of control and investment, and the arguments against
are that left uncontrolled, sequestration results in permanent marginalization,
dispossession and alienation of a portion of the community

In the field of knowledge organization, utopian schemes such as those of Paul Otlet or
the universal ontology proponents are similarly disparaged for being unrepresentative
of the way the world really works. In 2001 Cory Doctorow itemized seven “real world”
reasons why what he termed “meta-utopia” was unrealizable (Doctorow 2001):
• People lie
• People are lazy
• People are stupid
• People are not good observers of their own behaviours
• Schemas are not neutral
• Metrics influence results
• There are multiple ways of describing the same thing

The “Library of burnt books” (Deutsche Freiheitsbibliothek) established in Paris as a haven for the books banned and burnt by the Nazis (Haase 2000: 87). This library would eventually be destroyed by German troops on the occupation of Paris in 1940. We have in fact a long history of professional complicity in the destruction of, or

Patrick Lambe: From Cataloguers to Designers 2 profession should maintain a rigid separation from the active work of knowledge creation and organisation, represented by scholars and encyclopaedists (Vickery 2008; Lambe 2012: 262). A designer’s orientation tends more towards invention. A designer begins with a need or a desired outcome.

In the early 20th century, Paul Otlet carved out a role for bibliography and documentation as a force for positive social change. While his ideals appeared to be utopian to many of his contemporaries, his activism and vision foreshadowed the potential (for good and evil) of the World Wide Web. This paper discusses the role that KO professionals could play in enhancing …

By “designer” I mean a person who plans the look or workings of something prior to it being made, by preparing drawings or plans. These plans may also be enriched by descriptive detail, but the task of the designer is a future-oriented task, describing the world as it could be, or in some cases as it should be.

In the early 20th century, Paul Otlet carved out a role for bibliography and documentation as a force for positive social change. While his …

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