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iSchool mourns passing of Dean Emeritus Robert S. Taylor

January 05, 2009

Margaret Spillett
(315) 443-1069

Margaret Spillett

Robert S. Taylor, dean emeritus of the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University (iSchool), died Thursday, Jan. 1, at the Francis House in Syracuse after a lengthy illness. He was 90.

Robert TaylorDuring his tenure from 1972-81, Taylor changed the SU School of Library Science into the School of Information Studies in 1974, broadening the scope of the school to more accurately reflect the future of libraries and information management in the then-newly emerging computer age.

Taylor also established the first M.S. in information resource management program (now information management), using language that was later adopted by the federal government when creating its information technology staff structure.

"Bob ushered traditional library schools into the Information Age," says iSchool Dean Elizabeth D. Liddy. "His visionary leadership set us on course to become the first information school in the nation. His contributions to the school and to the field are monumental and continue to influence the development of the increasingly pivotal field of information studies."

Two of his seminal works, "Question-Negotiation and Information-Seeking in Libraries" (Lehigh University, Center for the Information Sciences, 1967) and "Value Added Processes in Information Systems" (Ablex Publishing, 1986), continue to be quoted and relevant to shaping scholarly discussions today. His works have been donated to the SU Library's Special Collections Research Center, and his life is being chronicled in a biography by local writer Russ Tarby.

Among his many honors, Taylor was recognized in 1972 with the American Society for Information Science's Best Book Award for "The Making of a Library" (John Wiley & Sons Inc.). In 1992, he received the American Society for Information Science's highest recognition, the Award of Merit. In November 2008, the School of Information Studies Board of Advisors formally acknowledged his contributions with a resolution in his honor.

An Ithaca native, Taylor earned a bachelor's degree in history at Cornell University and worked for a short stint as a sports reporter before being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942. He became a member of the Army Counter Intelligence Corps until returning to the United States in 1947.

Taylor earned an M.S. in library science from Columbia University in 1950. He was named a Fulbright Lecturer in 1956. He went on to work as a librarian, professor and director of information science at Lehigh University, and then a professor and director of the Library Center at Hampshire College.

Taylor was predeceased by his first wife, Leni Reichenberger Taylor, to whom he was married for nearly 50 years. He is survived by his second wife of 10 years, Fay Inman Taylor; his stepsons, Anton Reichenberger of Long Island; David Golden and wife Karen of Savannah, Ga.; Dan Golden of Hacienda Heights, Calif.; and grandsons William and Max Golden; as well as nieces and nephews, most of whom live in the Dallas area.

A memorial service is being planned at SU's Hendricks Chapel at a date to be announced.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Robert and Fay Taylor Scholarship at the SU School of Information Studies, 343 Hinds Hall, Syracuse, N.Y. 13244-4100; or to Francis House, 108 Michaels Ave., Syracuse, N.Y. 13208.

A remembrance site, where individuals can post a comment, can be found at

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