Svenonius, Elaine 1933-

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Svenonius, Elaine 1933-


Born January 9, 1933, in Philadelphia, PA; daughter of Edward (a professor) and Ethel (a homemaker) Fackenthal; married Lars Svenonius, 1957 (marriage ended, 1963). Ethnicity: "Pennsylvania Dutch." Education: Barnard College, A.B., 1954; University of Pennsylvania, M.A. (philosophy), 1957; University of Chicago, M.A. (library science), 1965, Ph.D., 1971. Hobbies and other interests: Writing poetry, painting, playing bridge, tennis.


Home—Los Angeles, CA. Office—Department of Information Studies, University of California, 405 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90024. E-mail—[email protected].


American Society for Testing Materials, Philadelphia, PA, editor, 1954-55; University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, instructor in logic, 1959-60; freelance editor, Uppsala, Sweden, 1960-62; University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, editorial assistant, 1963-70; University of Denver, Denver, CO, director of Center for Communication and Information Research, 1970-72; University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada, assistant dean of School of Library and Information Science, 1972-78; University of Denver, associate professor of librarianship and information management, 1979-81; University of California, Los Angeles, associate professor, 1981-89, professor of library and information science, 1989-94, professor emeritus, 1994—. Documentation, Research, and Training Centre, Bangalore, India, visiting professor, 1975; Drexel University, visiting professor, 1986; University of Madras, Ranganathan Centenary Lecturer, 1992; Escola de Biblioteconomia da UFMG, visiting professor, 1995-96; University of Maryland at College Park, visiting professor, 1996. Forest Press Committee, member, 1984-87; Dewey Decimal Classification Editorial Policy Committee, member, 1994-99. Member of editorial board, Library Quarterly, 1984—.


International Federation of Documentation (U.S. representative, beginning 1981), International Federation of Library Associations (chair of Working Group on Principles for the Construction of Subject Headings, 1990-93), International Society for Knowledge Organization (member of executive board, 1990-94), American Library Association (head of Library Education Division, 1972-73), American Association of Library and Information Science Education, American Society for Information Science (head of Education Committee, 1973-74, Special Interest Group for Classification Research, 1979-80, and Special Interest Group for Education, 1982-83).


Award from American Society for Information Science, 1982; grants from Online Computer Library Center, 1986, Council on Library Resources, 1987 and 1990-91, and Lake Placid Education Foundation, 1989-91; Margaret Mann Citation, Resources and Technical Services Division, American Library Association, 1992; shared award for best paper of the year, Cataloging Classification Quarterly, 1998, for "LCSH: Semantics, Syntax, and Specificity"; Ranganathan Award for Classification Research, 1999.


(Editor) String Indexing, three volumes, School of Library and Information Science, University of Western Ontario (London, Ontario, Canada), 1977.

(Editor, with Lois Mai Chan and Phyllis Richmond) Theory of Subject Analysis, Libraries Unlimited (Littleton, CO), 1985.

(Editor, with Michael Carpenter) Foundations of Cataloging, Libraries Unlimited (Littleton, CO), 1985.

(Editor) The Conceptual Foundations of Descriptive Cataloging, Academic Press (San Diego, CA), 1988.

(Editor, with Robert P. Holley, Dorothy McGarry, and Donna Duncan, and contributor) Subject Indexing: Principles and Practices in the Nineties, K.G. Saur (Munich, Germany), 1995.

The Intellectual Foundations of Information Organization, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2000.

(Editor and compiler, with Dorothy McGarry) Seymour Lubetzky, Seymour Lubetzky: Writings on the Classical Art of Cataloging, Libraries Unlimited (Englewood, CO), 2001.

Contributor to books, including The Variety of Librarianship: Essays in Honor of John Wallace Metcalfe, edited by W.B. Rayward, Library Association of Australia (Sydney, Australia), 1976; and Academic Libraries: Research Perspectives, edited by Mary Jo Lynch and Arthur Young, American Library Association (Chicago, IL), 1990; and A Delicate Balance, National Library of Poetry (Owings Mills, MD), 1996. Contributor of articles, poetry, and reviews to professional journals and literary magazines, including Onthebus, New Yorker, First Edition, Library Resources and Technical Services, Information Processing and Management, Library Science with a Slant to Documentation, and Classification Quarterly.


Elaine Svenonius once told CA: "My primary motivation for writing is a need to understand. I consider myself a passionate scholar in search of the theoretical underpinnings of constructs used in my field. For me, the thinking involved in such a search cannot occur without writing and rewriting. I write to think. A secondary motivation for writing is the joy of it. Of course good writing must come as a result of some pain, but coming to the end of a writing moves one a tad closer to self-realization—which, from an Aristotelian point of view, is true happiness.

"As to who has influenced my work, naturally there are the teachers at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago, and the Documentation Research Training Centre in India who taught me to think theoretically and analytically. Probably the greater influence has been from those I've known only by their writings, the bright lights who have contributed significantly to the advancement of librarianship, people like A. Panizzi, C. Cutter, S.R. Ranganathan, and S. Lubetzky.

"I first write for matter, then for style. With respect to the former, I frequently begin by exploring definitions of the concepts I'm dealing with; with respect to the latter, I aim for clarity, cohesion, and simplicity. Often I write as many as a dozen drafts. It's the exasperation that comes with having to discard a draft that causes pain.

"I came to the field of librarianship in the 1960s when information science was being invented. Back then, information science was to encompass the theory upon which the practice of librarianship rested, and at Chicago we were encouraged to explore this theory. With my background in philosophy—specializing in logical positivism and linguistic analysis—I leaped to the challenge and have been leaping ever since. My career has convinced me that any subject field can be the focus of intellectual pursuit and that a focus on librarianship—now called information science—can be as exciting as any academic adventure."