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In Memory

In this LITA’s 40th anniversary year, we have lost two icons to the profession who also served in LITA’s formative years as president. Henriette Avram passed away on April 22 and Frederick G. Kilgour passed on July 31. It’s hard to imagine today’s libraries without the work of these two giants of our profession. Their work was intertwined. Without the communications format of the MARC record championed by Henriette Avram, shared cataloging and OCLC, which Fred Kilgour founded, would not have been possible.

Much has been written about both of these people. However, it is fitting for LITA to recognize their special contribution to our organization which was still called the Information Science and Automation Division (ISAD) in their days. Fred Kilgour served as the eighth president for two terms in 1973-1975. Henriette Avram followed as president from 1975-1976. According to Stephen R. Salmon’s article, “LITA’s First Twenty-Five Years: A Brief History”, Kilgour, then at Yale Medical Library, was part of the group that actively worked to create the division collecting signatures for the required petition and then serving on the organizing committee. He immediately was appointed as the first editor of the new division’s journal, Journal of Library Automation (JOLA). Meanwhile, in January 1968, the Board approved the creation of 10 regional institutes “to tell the Project MARC story in technical detail to processing personnel throughout the country.” Henriette Avram was part of the team of presenters from LC and other pioneers in the implementation of MARC and the institutes attracted thousands of librarians. The regional institutes were continued through 1979 with several being offered each year. At Avram’s instigation, ALA created a committee, now known as MARBI, to review changes to the MARC format. The first meeting was held in January 1968 and had representations from ISAD, RTSD, and RSD. MARBI continues today to provide proper review of MARC changes.

If some of these things sound familiar, we have people like Kilgour and Avram to thank for setting into motion lasting structures in LITA. We still publish a journal, now called Information Technology & Libraries (ITAL); we still hold Regional Institutes on timely topics; we still are part of the structure of the MARBI committee. These are just a few examples, I’m sure, of the mark both of LITA icons made on the organization.