Otlet (Forgotten Forefather, Origins of Info Science)

How interesting to read about Paul Otlet and his ideas, creations and visions with respect to information classification and retrieval (among other related topics).  Its amazing that someone would undertake such a comprehensive task of creating a “master bibliography” of the entire world’s books and documents!  And for him to envision it as a faceted system so that topical relationships are interconnected, something that we seem to still be discussing and perfecting today.  Its quite fascinating that someone can propose concepts that are not fully appreciated or comprehended for nearly 100 years.  

I’d love to know more details about how Otlet’s work (or what was left of it) was more or less abandoned for fifty years at at University?!?  How does that happen?  It was the 1940s, and while I suppose the war going on in Europe likely had something to do with it at the time, what about afterwards?  No one bothered to clean out that room until the 1990s?  I thought space in Europe was at more of a premium than that, especially at a University!  It seems to say a lot about Otlet’s fall from recognition for his contributions, although as is the case with many big thinkers and creators, the value of his ideas seems to be more appreciated now than during his life.  

Katie B.


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