Dissertation Information for Dorothy A. Kramer
MPACT Status: Complete - Except Indecipherables
Title: Lange's handbook of chemistry a study of the cultural influences on the utility of a data compilation.
Abstract: The Handbook of Chemistry is a well known and useful Source of numerical data in chemistry and allied areas published by Handbook Publishers from 1934 to 1956 in nine editions. The book sold in large numbers to American chemists over a period when the volume and diversity of data werwe rapidly increasing. Its continued utility was defined by the existing culture represented by the editor. contributors, documentary sources, and users. The editor, Dr. Norbert A. Lange. was the major influence upon the book as he determined its design and revision,and selected the specialists and documentary sources. His decisions resulted from his experiences and beliefs as a research scientist, teacher, office holder in professional societies and editor. His reliance on scientific handbooks and desire to produce a profitable book led him to design a book of practical utility to chemists and other scientists in every phase of chemical study and activity. The contributors promoted the book's utility through their knowledge of many sciences, their professional status, their awareness of the needs for data of various groups, and the provision of useful data of limited accessibility to chemists. Nine categories of documentary sources were consulted for data. General compilations were the most valuable because they provided a topical overview and critically evaluated data. Other sources provided current. detailed, or evaluative information on particular topics. The documentary sources promoted the book's utility by reducing its expense. by exhibiting different intellectual and social uses for data, and by giving breadth and impartiality to its COntents. The users influenced the book's design through their needs for data which arose from their physical enviroments, information-seeking habits. their diverse scientific interests and occupational activities. and the lack of technical libraries. The book's design and marketing was innovative and realistic in meeting these needs and the editor's goals. The book's Success was due to the satisfaction of the needs and values of its producers and users. and to the editor's sensitivity to prevailing cultural forces. Further studies on the process of designing successful information systems, the influence of editors, system designers, etc. as interpreters of cultural mores and values, and the cultural determinants of users' behavior are recommended.
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