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Helga Schmid

  • Born: June 15, 1941, Marburg an der Lahn, Germany

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0207
Interview Date: June 14, 2000
Location: Vienna, Austria
Interviewer: W. Boyd Rayward
No. of pages: 27
Sponsor: Eugene Garfield Foundation
Eugene Garfield Foundation

  Abstract of Interview

Helga Schmid begins the interview by discussing the growth of her interest in the world of information. While attending the Vienna University, she studied mathematics and physics and also worked on gaining her teaching certification. However, after meeting her husband, she relocated to Belgium and worked for Euratom (European Atomic Energy Community), where she began training to be a computer programmer. In 1969 she and her family moved back to Vienna and she joined the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). While there, under the direction of Giampaolo Del Bigio, Schmid helped publish the first INIS (International Nuclear Information System) Atomindex. In 1975, she moved on to AGRIS (International Information System for the Agricultural Sciences and Technology) where she worked with varying software and helped the fledgling organization to organize and evolve its technological programs. In 2000, she retired, after rising through the organization to become the head of AGRIS Processing. Schmid concludes the interview by discussing briefly her knowledge of AGRIS in its present state and sharing some of the positive experiences she had throughout her career as a computer analyst.


1964 Studies of Mathematics and Physics (began in 1959)Mathematics, Vienna University
1964 Ph.D. Vienna University

  Professional Experience

European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), Belgium

1966 - 1968 Post-doctorate Fellowship

European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), Belgium

1966 - 1969 Scientific Programmer

International Atomic Energy Agency

1969 - 1975 Programmer/Analyst for INIS

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Vienna

1975 - 1981 Programmer/Analyst for AGRIS

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Vienna

1981 - 2000 Head of AGRIS Processing

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Early Interests in Mathematics and Physics 1

Interest in mathematics and physics lead towards a career in teaching. Meet husband at Vienna University. Relocate to Belgium and train to be a computer programmer at Euratom. Return to Vienna and accept position at the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Computer Programmer for IAEA 2

Work under the supervision of Giampaolo Del Bigio and help publish the first INIS Atomindex. Work with incoming INIS data, including checking and production of the INIS master file. Apply retrieval systems, such as IRMS (Information Retrieval and Management System).

Responsibilities at IAEA 5

Implement photocomposition method to IAEA indexes. Help to create IAEA Thesaurus by studying the first Thesaurus, created by Euratom. Input software and help launch system.

Transfer to FAO under AGRIS and Early Operational Glitches 7

Transfer to AGRIS for personal reasons. Handle the computer processing of the AGRIS data. Work on corrections for AGRIS data in Vienna and add numerous programs to system. Personally modify software to be multilingual.

Problems with AGRIS Location and Retirement 16

Debate to move AGRIS to Rome. Motivation drops in Vienna at AGRIS headquarters. AGRIS processing unit closes. Retire due to AGRIS management changes.

Professional Recollections 20

Discuss positive and negative experiences during the time at AGRIS. Thoughts on changes in the information world. Anecdotes on encounters between executives and programmers.

Index 24

  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.

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