Scientific progress or organizational innovation? A comparison of two turns in Library and Information Science

  • Brian L. Griffin


This paper discusses the transformation of library and information science (LIS) from a
discipline narrowly concerned with classification and preservation in libraries and archives to
one that includes a wide range of fields and professional training programs. Two alternative but
not mutually exclusive explanations may account for these developments. These changes could
reflect normal scientific progress as the discipline matures. The changes could also be the result
of isomorphic organizational changes in response to shifts in the environment and a need to
realign the institutional logics of educational and professional organizations with those of the
academy. These explanations are explored through a comparison of two periods during which
LIS experienced rapid disciplinary and organizational changes: the decades during and after
World War II and the final decade of the 20th century. These abbreviated case studies suggest
that both explanations of disciplinary change provide some analytical leverage for explaining
different aspects of the development of LIS.