School of Information (University of Michigan) Records and Publications

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School of Information (University of Michigan) Records and Publications

The materials in this Deep Blue collection form part of a larger record group held by the Bentley Historical Library. For a more complete index to these records, please consult the following online finding aids:

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Established as Department of Library Science; name later changed to School of Library Science, then School of Information and Library Studies, and School of Information. Records document the teaching and research into library and information sciences at the University of Michigan. Records in this digital repository include an archived version of the School of Information Website.

The first formal program in library education at the University of Michigan began in 1909, when the University Librarian, Theodore Koch, began a summer program in “library methods.” In 1918, Koch’s successor, William Warner Bishop raised the entrance requirement for this summer program to a minimum of thirty hours of college credit.

In the spring of 1926, the Regents of the university authorized the creation of the Department of Library Science with Bishop as its chairman. Two degrees were offered: (1) a Bachelor of Arts, conferred after one year of work; and (2) a Master of Arts, conferred after two years of work. In 1930 a bachelor’s degree was required for admission to the program.

Bishop retired from the department chairmanship in 1940 and was succeeded by Rudolph Gjelsness. In 1948, Gjelsness led a major curriculum revision which eliminated the bachelor’s degree. Hereafter, the master’s degree would be awarded after two semesters and one summer of work beyond the bachelor’s degree. A doctoral program was also begun.

In 1964, Gjelsness reached the mandatory retirement age and was succeeded by Wallace J. Bonk. Bonk suffered a heart attack in 1967 and resigned the chairmanship to return to teaching. Professor Russell E. Bidlack, who had been a member of the faculty since 1950, was named acting chairman.

In November 1967, a panel of library leaders, which had been invited to visit and examine the department, recommended that the department be made a separate school. On October 18, 1968, the Regents approved the request and the change became effective on July 1, 1969.

Bidlack was named the school’s first dean, a position which he held until his retirement in 1984. University Librarian Richard M. Dougherty became interim dean pending the arrival of Robert M. Warner as dean in April 1985. Warner came to the school after serving as Archivist of the United States. Under Warner, the school began to grow and change. The first visible sign of this came with the Regent’s approval of the school’s name change. As of July 1986, the School of Library Science officially became known as the School of Information and Library Studies. The name change reflected a changing emphasis in the curriculum and the changing nature of the field of librarianship through the use of computers and electronic media.

Warner left the deanship in 1992 to resume teaching at the school. A new dean search brought Daniel E. Atkins, an engineer and computer scientist, to the school. In 1996 the school’s name was again changed, this time to the School of Information. This change reflected an even greater shift away from traditional library studies and towards the use of new information technologies. In September 1998 Atkins resigned as Dean and was succeeded by Gary Olson, who served as Acting Dean until December 1999 when John L. King assumed the deanship. King held this office until 2006 and was in turn succeeded by Interim Dean Olivia Frost (2006-2007).

In 2007, Martha E. Pollack, Associate Chair for Computer Science and Engineering in the University of Michigan’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, was named Dean of the School of Information. Pollack came to the school with extensive research experience in the area of Artificial Intelligence, with publications on topics such as automated planning, natural-language processing, temporal reasoning, and constraint satisfaction. Under her leadership, the School of Information launched a specialization in the Preservation of Information (with a focus on digital preservation) and continued to foster research and instruction in areas such as Human Computer Interaction, Social Computing and Information Analysis and Retrieval in addition to areas such as Archives and Records Management and Library and Information Science. Her tenure also saw the school develop an undergraduate degree program in informatics as well as a graduate degree in health informatics (offered jointly with the School of Public Health), initiatives that were fully launched under her successor. Pollack also led the school in its transition from its offices in West Hall to the newly constructed North Quad, which included purpose-built facilities to accommodate the technical infrastructure needed by students and faculty for research and scholaraship.

Pollack left her deanship at the School of Information in 2010 to become Vice Provost for Academic and Budgetary Affairs. The same year, Jeff Mackie-Mason, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, was named Dean, a position he continued to hold as of 2013.

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Copyright held by the Regents of the University of Michigan

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