New Search

Douglas J. Foskett

  • Born: June 27, 1918, London, U.K.
  • Died: May 7, 2004

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0202
Interview Date: July 3, 2000
Location: Portsmouth, U.K.
Interviewer: W. Boyd Rayward
No. of pages: 27
Sponsor: Eugene Garfield Foundation
Eugene Garfield Foundation

  Abstract of Interview

Douglas J. Foskett begins the interview by describing how he entered the field of information science and began working at Ilford Public Library. After serving in the Royal Army Medical Corps for six years, he returned to Ilford and met his wife Joy. Eventually, Foskett left the Public Library to take over Barbara Hill's position of running the information section at the Metal Box Company Ltd. When the Metal Box research department relocated to Swindon, Foskett decided, as an alternative to moving, to join the University of London's Institute of Education. During his twenty-one year career at the University of London, Foskett became director of the University Library and Goldsmiths' Librarian. In his interview, Foskett next discusses the formation of the Classification Research Group (CRG) to address the need for new ways to classify scientific literature. Foskett has been a member since CRG's formation, and Foskett developed faceted classification schemes for education and safety and health that are still in use. Foskett also met with NATO representatives and secured five thousand pounds of funding for the CRG to develop a new general classification scheme. Foskett then recalls S. R. Ranganathan's influence in the field of information science. Ranganathan was the first person to demonstrate that facet analysis could be applied to terms in a system of classification. Foskett next describes the theory of integrative levels and why the Dorking Conference was so significant. Foskett concludes his interview by addressing the expansion of the Library Association to include special librarians and the eventual formation of the Association of Special Libraries and Information Bureau (ASLIB).

Douglas J. Foskett was a very important figure in the developing field of information science. He passed away on 7 May 2004.<.p>


1939 B.A. Queen Mary, University of London
1954 M.A. Birbeck College, University of London

  Professional Experience

Royal Army Medical Corps/Intelligence Corps

1940 - 1946 Enlistee

Ilford Municipal Libraries

1940 - 1948 Librarian

Metal Box Company Ltd.

1948 - 1957 Librarian

University of London

1957 - 1978 Librarian, Institute of Education


1965 - 1990 Honorary Library Advisor, Royal National Institute for Deaf People
1975 Honorary Fellow of the Library Association
1976 President of the Library Association
1978 Order of the British Empire Award
1981 Honorary Fellow, Polytechnic of North London

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Education and Early Career 1

Decision to enter field of Information Science. Experiences during World War II. Joy Foskett. The Metal Box Company Ltd. Barbara Hill and Siegl.

Career at the University of London 5

University of London Library. John Pafford. Institute of Education. William Taylor. Information Services. Alina Vickery. Goldsmiths' Librarian. Don Ritchnell. The Pafford Lecture.

Classification Research Group (CRG) 9

Formation and efforts of CRG. John Bernal. Jack Wells. Bernard Palmer. S. R. Ranganathan. Facet Analysis. Dewey Decimal Classification. International Labor Organization. Robert Fairthorne. Derek Langridge. Bliss Analysis. NATO. Helen Pates. Derek Austin. PRECIS.

S. R. Ranganathan 15

Contributions, personality, and family. T. R. Yogeshwar. Sarada Ranganathan.

The Dorking Conference 17

It's importance. Theory of Integrative Levels. De Grolier. Mysticism of Ranganathan.

Library Association 20

Formation of new section for special libraries. Jason Farradane. Association of Special Libraries and Information Bureau (ASLIB).

Notes 22

Index 23

  About the Interviewer

W. Boyd Rayward

W. Boyd Rayward is a research professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Chamapaign. He turned to librarianship after graduating in English literature from the University of Sydney. He received his Ph.D. from the Graduate Library School at the University of Chicago in 1973. He has held positions in the University of Chicago (where he became Dean of the Graduate Library School). He served as professor and head of the School of Information Library and Archive Studies and Dean of the University's Faculty of Professional Studies at the University of New South Wales in Sydney where he is now professor emeritus. He has published two books related to Paul Otlet, Belgian documentalist and internationalist, and a great many articles on history of national and international schemes for the organization and dissemination of information.

Hear It Firsthand

The Center for Oral History captures and preserves the stories of notable figures in chemistry and related fields, with over 425 oral histories that deal with various aspects of science, of scientists, and of scientific practices. For more information please visit CHF’s Oral History Program or e-mail oralhistory@

Annual Report

Annual Report
Take a look back at a year of preservation, research, and outreach in CHF’s annual report to supporters.

Support CHF

Help us preserve and share the history of chemistry and related sciences. Make a tax-deductible tax-deductible gift online.