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Oral history interview with Douglas J. Foskett

  • 2000-Jul-03

Oral history interview with Douglas J. Foskett

  • 2000-Jul-03

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].

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 27 pages
Rights Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
Rights holder
  • Science History Institute
Credit line
  • Courtesy of Science History Institute

About the Interviewer

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 PhD 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.

Institutional location

Oral history number 0202

Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • June 27, 1918
  • London, United Kingdom
  • May 07, 2004
  • United Kingdom


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1939 Queen Mary College (University of London) BA
1954 Birkbeck College MA

Professional Experience

Great Britain. Army

  • 1940 to 1946 Royal Army Medical Corps/Intelligence Corps

Ilford Public Libraries

  • 1940 to 1948 Librarian

Metal Box Company

  • 1948 to 1957 Librarian

University of London

  • 1957 to 1978 Librarian, Institute of Education


Year(s) Award
1965 to 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

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PDF — 175 KB

The published version of the transcript may diverge from the interview audio due to edits to the transcript made by staff of the Center for Oral History, often at the request of the interviewee, during the transcript review process.

Complete Interview Audio File Web-quality download

3 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads