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Saul Herner

  • Born: January 29, 1923, Brooklyn, New York
  • Died: October 11, 2002

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0164
Interview Date: July 16, 1997
Location: Fairfax, Virginia
Interviewer: Robert V. Williams
No. of pages: 90
Sponsor: Eugene Garfield Foundation
Eugene Garfield Foundation

  Abstract of Interview

Saul Herner begins the interview with a discussion of his childhood and family background. He grew up in New York, and attended the University of Wisconsin, where he received a B.S. in biochemistry in 1945. In 1946, after a brief time in the Army, Herner was hired as a chemical reference librarian at the New York Public Library. At the same time, he began working towards a bachelor's degree in library science, taking correspondence courses at the University of Wisconsin. In 1948, Herner took a job at the engineering and science library at New York University, where he was first introduced to special libraries and the SLA. Two years later, Herner moved to the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, and he began developing an interest in user studies. He discusses his involvement in a number of organizations, including the ACS, and his colleagues in information science. In 1953, Herner joined the Atlantic Research Corporation. While there, he began to form his own company, now known as Herner and Company. Herner discusses how he gained clients, his company's involvement in particular projects, and the importance of government support in the field of information science. In addition, he discusses developments in information retrieval during his career. Herner concludes with a discussion of his teaching experiences, his involvement in IIA, and comments about the history of information science.


1945 B.S., Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin
1945 B.S., Library Science, University of Wisconsin

  Professional Experience

United States Army Air Corps

1945 - 1946 Research Chemist

New York Public Library

1946 - 1948 Chemical Reference Assistant

New York University

1948 - 1950 Assistant Curator and Engineering Librarian

Johns Hopkins University

1950 - 1953 Chief Librarian, Applied Physics Laboratory

Atlantic Research Corporation

1953 - 1956 Head, Technical Information and Library Planning Group

Herner and Company

1955 - 2002 Chairman and Consulting Specialist

Drexel Institute of Technology

1964 - 1968 Adjunct Associate Professor

University of Maryland

1966 - 1967 Lecturer

Information Resources Press

1970 Editor in Chief


1982 Miles Conrad Award, National Federation of Abstracting and Indexing Services

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Family Background and Education 1

Growing up in New York. Attending the University of Wisconsin. Studying biochemistry. Joining the Army.

Early Career 3

Position at New York Public Library. Correspondence courses in library science. Publishing articles. Involvement in SLA. Working at New York University. Moving to Johns Hopkins University. Interest in user studies. Meeting wife. Involvement in ACS. Colleagues in information science. Joining ADI. New technology. Position at Atlantic Research Corporation.

Forming Herner and Company 23

Partnership with Robert Meyer. Getting contracts. Work for National Science Foundation. Approach to information studies. Importance of networking. Contracts for Department of Heath and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control. Need for innovation. Work for Library of Congress.

Competition in Information Science 44

Eugene Garfield. Mortimer Taube. Keeping company on a small scale. Involvement in publishing. Producing STAR. Melvin Day. Development of online systems.

Conclusion 54

Involvement in ACS Division of Chemical Literature. Automation in information science. Involvement in ADI and SLA. Influence of Hans Peter Luhn. Reaction to Cranfield studies. Teaching at Drexel and University of Maryland. Changes in the field of information science. Involvement in IIA. Work on the history of information science.

Notes 82

Index 85

  About the Interviewer

Robert V. Williams

Robert V. Williams is a professor of library and information science at the University of South Carolina. He holds a Ph.D. in library and information studies from the University of Wisconsin, Madison; an M.S. in library and information science from Florida State University; and an M.A. in history from New York University. Before joining the University of South Carolina in 1978, he was an archivist and information services manager for the Ford Foundation, and the Georgia Department of Archives and History. Williams has also been an information consultant for many organizations including Appalachian Council of Governments of Greenville, South Carolina, and Pontifical Catholic University Madre y Maestra, Dominican Republic. He came to the Chemical Heritage Foundation as the Eugene Garfield Fellow in the History of Scientific Information in 1997. He is a member of the South Carolina Historical Records Advisory Board, the American Library Association (ALA), and the American Society for Information Science (ASIS), where he served as chair of ASIS History and Foundations of Information Science Special Interest Group in 1994–1995. Williams is also a member of the Special Libraries Association (SLA) and Chair of the SLA Membership Committee. Williams has numerous publications on the historical role of information science.

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