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Schools of infomation : What do they mean by that ?


  • Sylvain Bureau

    (CRG - Centre de recherche en gestion - X - École polytechnique - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)


T here are 18 Schools of Information in the USA. Someone who comes across this name – School of Information (I-School) – might not understand what it refers to. All schools are about information, aren‟t they? According to the I-School Charter, these schools are “interested in the relationship between information, technology, and people”2. If this relationship is obviously at the core of many problems that companies are facing today, how could a school address such a broad issue? In France, there isn‟t any School of Information per se. There is a National School: ENSSIB, which is the “Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Sciences de l‟Information et des Bibliothèques”. But the purpose of this school is restricted to the training of librarians so it is not exactly a School of Information. In Europe, there are some other schools with “information studies” or “information management” included in their name. For instance, there is a Department of Information studies at the University of Wales Aberystwyth and an International Centre for Information Management Systems and Services in Poland (Tedd, 2003). But once again, these schools are more about training professionals who are going to work in very specific institutions such as libraries, archives and museums. Other institutions like the German Center for Digital Technology and Management or the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in the UK adopt a multidisciplinary approach on issues related to information, technology and people3. Their goal is to “promote the information society” (Molloy 2005) and could be compared, to a certain extent, to the I-Schools. However, these institutions remain unusual in Europe and they do not represent a whole network as do the American I-Schools. In this paper, we describe the purpose of American I-Schools which, far from being homogeneous, differ in their history, organization and major goals. We shall explore whether they have the same roots, centered around “information professions”, “information economy”, and “information science”. First, we examine to what extent these roots are the founding features of the I-schools. Second, we provide a description of these schools to characterize both their similarities and differences. Finally, we address the future perspectives of these atypical institutions and conclude.

Suggested Citation

  • Sylvain Bureau, 2008. "Schools of infomation : What do they mean by that ?," Post-Print hal-00408375, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-00408375
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