|NAME:||Ralph Robert Shaw|
|WORKED AT:||USDA Library; Rutgers; University of Hawaii|
|OTHER INFORMATION:||Shaw established the Graduate School of Library Studies at
the University of Hawaii. He served on numerous ALA
committees. He was associated with the
discovery and pioneering of information science. He was
involved with work
on the Photoclerk. He worked with international
organizations - consulting and advising on bibliographic
activities. In 1950, Shaw founded Scarecrow Press. He came
up with mini-print. He helped develop a strong library
program at Rutgers, served as the school's second dean, and
was instrumental in establishing
its Ph.D. program. Shaw did not invent Rapid Selector but
made himself famous
promoting it. He translated a book on bibliography from
He was a controversial library figure. He was interested in scientific management, transaction charges, photography for circulation control, and bookmobiles; copyrights. He compiled Bibliography of Agriculture, which became an international bibliographic tool. He was "one of the first American Documentalists" (Burke). He wanted to use Bush's Selector to coordinate all the agricultural research literature allowing researchers to have access to all the current research projects in the world. Shaw was chief of USDA library, made it a center of pioneering documentation techniques.
|AWARDS:||1953 (first) Dewey Award(ALA)|
RALPH ROBERT SHAW
1907 - 1972
Ralph Shaw was born in Detroit, Michigan on May 18, 1907. He grew up in Cleveland, and obtained his B.A. from Western Reserve University in 1928. His interest in science librarianship was sparked while an undergraduate, by his job in the Cleveland Public Library's Department of Science and Technology. He enrolled in the Columbia University School of Library Service and received a B.S. (1929) and an M.S.(1931) from that institution. Shaw's lifelong interest in the scientific management of libraries began during his time in New York.
He found ample opportunity to further develop and put into practice his ideas when he became the librarian of the Gary, Indiana Public Library in 1936. While in Gary, Shaw began work on his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago's Graduate Library School. In 1940, Shaw moved on to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's library.
While at the library (which eventually became the National Agriculture Library), Shaw continued to pursue his interest in the use of machines to improve the productivity and efficiency of library operations. During his fourteen-year tenure at the library, he invented and patented the Photoclerk and designed the Rapid Selector (and patented its coding system), a machine designed to use encoded microfilm for subject analysis and retrieval of information. Although mechanical problems thwarted Shaw's dreams of success for the machine, work along the same lines was later done by Eastman Kodak and IBM .
During his career, Shaw became an internationally respected figure in librarianship. He was a member of, as well as a consultant and advisor to, a wide range of national and international library committees and organizations concerned with library and bibliographic activities. During the 1950's, Shaw was actively involved in the American Documentation Institute . He was an associate editor of American Documentation from 1950-1957.
Shaw was also keenly interested in library education. In 1954, he joined the faculty of the Graduate School of Library Service at Rutgers University, where he helped to develop a respected program that included courses in bibliography, documentation and scientific management, a concept he helped introduce to the profession as a means of solving certain library problems.
Ralph Shaw left a significant mark in the fields of information
science and librarianship. "As a bibliographer, he supervised the
production of one
of the major scientific and one of the major retrospective
The influence of his work and ideas will carry on for years in his
students, many of whom are today's leaders. The press he founded
Scarecrow Press, continues to produce high quality works in
and other fields. His efforts as an inventor "helped to make
of the sophisticated use of technology in libraries." A critic of
claims for the capabilities of machines, Shaw's challenges helped
a realistic basis for the intelligent use of machines. Ralph Shaw
1972. There is detailed biographical information about him in
Some of Shaw's major works include:
The Use of Photography for Clerical Routines(1953)
Articles on automation:
"From Fright to Frankenstein." D.C. Libraries (1953).
"The Form and the Substance." (1965).
"Electronic Storage and Searching." in the series "Freeing the Mind." Times Literary Supplement (1962).
A book celebrating the life and work of Shaw is: Essays for Ralph Shaw, ed. by Norman D. Stevens. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1975, 212 pp.
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