Michael W. Hill

Born: July 27, 1928 | Wye, GB

Michael W. Hill received a BS and MSc in chemistry and became head of Morgan Crucible Group's physics laboratory, but was drawn to the information and documentation side of the field. Hill first became assistant keeper in the National Reference Library of Science and Invention, and later moved on to the British Museum and the British Library.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0203
No. of pages: 36
Minutes: 126

Interview Sessions

W. Boyd Rayward
26 June 2000
Oxford and Cambridge Club, London, England

Abstract of Interview

Michael W. Hill begins his interview by discussing how he was first drawn to the information and documentation side of chemistry. While at Lincoln College, Hill planned to become a chemist. He received his BS and MSc there, under the tutelage of Rex Richards, by researching applications of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. After graduating, Hill started his career at Laporte Chemical Company in Luton, then moved to London to become head of Morgan Crucible Group's physics laboratory. Eventually Hill left the competitive world of industry to work as assistant keeper in the National Reference Library of Science and Invention, a new national science library being setup by the British Museum. Hill soon advanced to the post of deputy librarian at the Patent Office Library. Next he became the head of the National Reference Library of Science and Invention, first as part of the British Museum, then from 1973 as part of the British Library's Reference Division, which was renamed the Science Reference Library. Hill also joined Aslib, became a fellow of the Institute of Information Scientists, as well as vice president, and eventually became president of the Federation for Information and Documentation Congress. He was also elected vice president of the International Association of Technological University Libraries. Hill concludes his interview by hypothesizing about the future impact of information science.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1941 King Henry VIII School
1947 Nottingham High School
1953 University of Oxford, Lincoln College MA
1953 University of Oxford, Lincoln College MSc

Professional Experience

Laporte Chemical Company

1953 to 1956
Research Chemist

Morgan Crucible Group

1956 to 1958
Laboratory Head, Chemistry, Physics and Physical Analysis
1958 to 1962
Assistant Process Control Manager, Carbon and Sintered Metals
1962 to 1963
Manager, Telephone Granules Production
1963 to 1964
Group Technical Editor

British Library

1964 to 1965
Assistant Keeper, National Reference Library of Science and Invention
1968 to 1973
Keeper, National Reference Library of Science and Invention
1973 to 1986
Director, Science Reference Library

Patent Office Library

1965 to 1968
Deputy Librarian

British Museum

1986 to 1988
Associate Director, Science, Technology and Industry

Honors

Year(s) Award
1969 to 1973

Member, Organizing Committee for the British Library

1969 to 1974

Member, Advisory Council on Scientific and Technical Information

1969 to 1974

Chairman, Online Information Services Committee

1970 to 1986

ad hoc UK Delegate to World Intellectual Property Organization

1971 to 1974

Member, Executive Committee, National Central Library

1973 to 1980

UK Delegate, EEC, DGXIII, WP on Patent Information

1974 to 1979

Honorary Secretary, Association for Information Management

1974 to 1977

Board Member, UK Chemical Information Service

1974 to 1993

Various official consultancies to foreign official bodies

1976 to 1980

UK Delegate, EEC, DGXIII, WP on Information for Industry

1976 to 1981

Vice President, International Association of Technological Universities Libraries

1977 to 1979

Chairman, Circle of State Librarians

1979 to 1981

Chairman, Association for Information Management

1980 to 1984

Vice President, Federation for Information and Documentation

1980

Joint Founder of Western European Round Table for Information and Documentation

1983 to 1987

Member, Advisory Committee, Scottish Science Reference Library

1984 to 1990

President, Federation for Information and Documentation

1990

Honorary Fellow, Federation for Information and Documentation

Table of Contents

Education and Early Experiences in the Chemical Industry
1

Early work at Lincoln College under Rex Richards. The value of good research techniques. Receives M. Sc. for application of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Enters industry at Laporte Chemical Company in Luton. Moves to London to be head of physics research laboratory at Morgan Crucible Group.

Entrance into the World of Information Science
2

Applies and receives position as assistant keeper in the National Reference Library of Science and Invention, the British Museum's national science library.

Career Growth and Advancement at the British Museum
4

Transfers to post of deputy at the Patent Office Library. Becomes a civil servant. Manages the daily operations of the library. Advances to head of National Reference Library of Science and Invention.

Personal Involvement in Information Committees and Conferences
7

Joins Aslib as a fellow of the Institute of Information Scientists, then as honorary secretary. Attends Federation for Information and Documentation [FID] conference in Rome.

Further Professional Recollections
15

Works to establish proper FID mission and improve FID financial situation. Attends FID council in Moscow. Helps FID cut financial and political dependence to UNESCO.

Future of Information Science
25

Changes due to development of compact discs and the World Wide Web. Pitfalls of the World Wide Web. Growth of the information field and availability of information. Profit and cost involved in the information field.

Notes
30
Index
31

About the Interviewer

W. Boyd Rayward

W. Boyd Rayward is a research professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Chamapaign. He turned to librarianship after graduating in English literature from the University of Sydney. He received his PhD from the Graduate Library School at the University of Chicago in 1973. He has held positions in the University of Chicago (where he became Dean of the Graduate Library School). He served as professor and head of the School of Information Library and Archive Studies and Dean of the University's Faculty of Professional Studies at the University of New South Wales in Sydney where he is now professor emeritus. He has published two books related to Paul Otlet, Belgian documentalist and internationalist, and a great many articles on history of national and international schemes for the organization and dissemination of information.