Robert S. Taylor

Dean 1972-1981

Robert S. Taylor (1918 to 2009) was a visionary who took bold and well-calculated risks to lead the field of library science into the information age. He published numerous scholarly works, including two seminal pieces “Question-Negotiation and Information-Seeking in Libraries” (1967) and Value Added Processes in Information Systems (1986).

He served as dean of the Syracuse University School of Information Studies from 1972 to 1981. One of his most memorable accomplishments at the school was changing its name from library science to the more comprehensive wording, information studies. “The change in name is not a cosmetic cover, but a recognition that the activities and courses we presently have can no longer be called library science,” he said at the time. “Simply put, ‘Information Studies’ better represents what we are doing and the direction we are going.”

Reflecting on the decision to change the school’s name, Taylor said in July 2007 that he accepted the deanship at Syracuse with the hopes of creating a new kind of school focused specifically on information. “I came here to Syracuse because this was the one library science school in the country that had a potential—a real potential—for change,” he said. “I wanted the word ‘information’ in there, so eventually we arrived at Information Studies—ambiguous enough to cover almost anything, as it has.”

He founded the nation’s first master’s degree in information resource management (which is now called information management) in 1980.

Among his many honors, Taylor received the 1992 American Society for Information Science’s (now ASIST) highest award, the Award of Merit; and the 1972 American Society for Information Science’s Best Book award for The Making of a Library (based on his experiences in designing the Hampshire College Library Center).