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Oral history interview with Saul Herner

  • 1997-Jul-16

Oral history interview with Saul Herner

  • 1997-Jul-16

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.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 90 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

Robert V. Williams is a professor of library and information science at the University of South Carolina. He holds a PhD in library and information studies from the University of Wisconsin, Madison; an MS in library and information science from Florida State University; and an MA 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.

Institutional location

Oral history number 0164

Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • January 29, 1923
  • Brooklyn, New York, United States
  • October 11, 2002
  • Sandy Spring, Maryland, United States


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1945 University of Wisconsin--Madison BS Biochemistry
1945 University of Wisconsin--Madison BS Library Science

Professional Experience

United States. Army

  • 1945 to 1946 Army Air Corps, Research Chemist

New York Public Library

  • 1946 to 1948 Chemical Reference Assistant

New York University

  • 1948 to 1950 Assistant Curator and Engineering Librarian

Johns Hopkins University

  • 1950 to 1953 Chief Librarian, Applied Physics Laboratory

Atlantic Research Corporation

  • 1953 to 1956 Head, Technical Information and Library Planning Group

Herner and Company

  • 1955 Chairman and Consulting Specialist

Drexel Institute of Technology

  • 1964 to 1968 Adjunct Associate Professor

University of Maryland, College Park

  • 1966 to 1967 Lecturer

Information Resources Press

  • 1970 Editor-in-Chief


Year(s) Award
1982 Miles Conrad Award, National Federation of Abstracting and Indexing Services

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PDF — 349 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

9 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads