2 Governance

Sandra Ward

Governance of the Institute evolved with its aspirations, its operating environment, and legal requirements. For easier reading we have split the topic across three chapters. Chapter 2 covers Constitution legalities, the role of Council as the IIS governing body, discussions on the Institute’s name, and the possibility of a Royal Charter as well as mechanisms for IIS administration, staffing and day to day operations. Chapter 3 covers Committees, their structure and evolution. Chapter 4 deals with the important and somewhat complicated topic of Institute membership and membership grades, admission hurdles, subscriptions, salaries and recruitment of members.

Together these present the complexities of staying afloat and expanding as the field of information science exploded.

The Institute’s brief

The Institute was established to promote, develop, maintain, and advance the science and practice of the collection, collation, evaluation, and organised dissemination of information (‘information science’). Its remit was also to promote the efficiency and usefulness of its members by setting high standards of professional education and knowledge and professional conduct as a condition of membership. IIS was the first body to demonstrate that information science was a distinct field of endeavour.

The Institute’s responsibilities encompassed: fostering research and development in information science; developing curricula and syllabuses in all fields of information science; conducting and arranging for the conduct of courses in all areas of education and training relating to information science; promoting further education and training in information science for those aspiring to or engaged in scientific and technical information work; and, if thought fit, to hold examinations and award certificates, diplomas, prizes or scholarships. The Institute intended to put itself in the position of approving information science curricula and syllabuses devised by courses conducted by other institutions.

IIS saw building a professional information community as essential. It determined to provide a forum where information scientists could discuss professional matters, and to facilitate communication of news of current information science activities through its publications. Holding and promoting meetings to discuss papers on all subjects relevant to the Institute began straight away. Forming and promoting branches and groups to connect with members in order to promote knowledge sharing and professional development was crucial, as was developing and distributing publications (communications, papers and treatises) relevant to IIS objectives.

The Institute also recognised the importance of being part of the wider information community and it aimed from the start to co-operate with partners in arranging or providing for the holding of exhibitions, meetings, lectures, classes, seminars, conferences and training courses in information science.

Subscriptions would not provide all the funds needed and the IIS articles allowed it to raise funds and to invite and receive contributions (provided that the Institute should not undertake any substantial permanent trading activities and should conform to any relevant statutory regulations)[1].

Promoting high standards in scientific and technical information work and establishing qualifications for those engaged in the profession were initial priorities. The first few years of the IIS were, of necessity, focused on defining the information science syllabus; securing its role in establishing professional standards and qualifications; developing its constitution and methods of governance, building membership and an IIS brand. As with every professional association, the Institute needed to balance relevance to its members with a clear direction and positive identity.

Memorandum of Understanding, Articles of Association and Byelaws

By March 1959 IIS membership had reached 150; and in May 1959, the Inland Revenue (later HMRC) approved relief of income tax on IIS subscriptions. IIS was registered under the Companies Act on 10 June. By 1 October 1959 the IIS Memorandum and Articles of Association had been approved by the Board of Trade (Companies Act 1948-1976) and IIS was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee and not having share capital. The Articles set the IIS membership limit at 500.

The Institute’s formal powers encompassed the substantial breadth of its role and its objectives:

  • To foster research and development work.
  • To conduct and arrange for the conduct of courses in all areas of education and training relating to information science.
  • To provide for and join in arranging or providing for the holding of exhibitions, meetings, lectures, classes, seminars, conferences, and training courses in relation to information science.
  • To develop curricula and syllabuses in all fields of information science and to approve such curricula and syllabuses devised by the courses conducted by other institutions.
  • To promote further education and training in information science and, if thought fit, to hold examinations and award certificates, diplomas, prizes or scholarships; to hold and promote the holding of meetings for the discussion of papers on all subjects relevant to the Institute.
  • To form and promote the formation of branches, sections or groups and to dissolve those so established when needed.
  • To print and publish and to sell, lend and distribute any communications, papers or treatises relevant to the objects of the Institute.
  • To raise funds and to invite and receive contributions provided that the Institute shall in raising funds not undertake any substantial permanent trading activities and shall conform to any relevant statutory regulations.

These purposes guided the IIS throughout its life though the mechanisms for achieving them and its formal structures adjusted with its experience; developments in information science, and later of information technology; the increasing criticality of good information management to organisations; and the expectations of employers and the workforce.

Byelaws first outlined in 1963 were finally approved in 1965.  Everyone joining IIS needed to signify their acceptance of the Byelaws.

In 1973 the Articles were updated but text relating to the Criteria for admitting Associates was omitted. A successful motion at the 1975 AGM restored the intentioned wording.

In 1977 the Articles and Byelaws relating to Presidents and Vice Presidents were reviewed.  Presidents were selected as people of considerable distinction and reputation in an information related field. The postholders would add to the Institute’s prestige and the President played an active role in governance. Up to 1977 the President’s term of office ran for one year, renewable for two more. This meant that new Presidents started their job whilst learning about the Institute, capitalised on their experience for two years and were then cut off sharply from IIS. The AGM approved Council’s proposal that IIS should have a President–Elect, a President and an immediate Past President. In this way the total span of a President’s interest would remain three years, but the process of learning would be less fraught and termination less abrupt. Council considered that the duties of Vice Presidents lacked clarification. From now on the maximum number of Vice-Presidents would be four to avoid Council reaching unmanageable numbers; each should retire after two years but be eligible for re-election and be assigned specific duties. Members would be able to suggest candidates but only Council could make nominations.

In 1979 much of Council’s time was spent discussing a paper from the Constitutional Advisory Committee concerning membership categories and the structure of the Institute in order for firm proposals on the Structure of the Institute to be tabled at the AGM (see Chapter 4), preparatory to amending the Constitution.  In June a co-opted non-corporate member, Maureen Nolan, was the first to be welcomed to the remaining 1978/79 Council sessions.

Momentum continued throughout 1979. A revised and simpler version of the IIS Article 1 (definition of information work) was drafted to increase attractiveness to potential IIS members, and which would be the Criteria for Ordinary (Associate) Membership.

“Studying, executing or controlling the gathering, evaluation, organisation or transfer of information.” 

Additional experience would be needed by Corporate Members.

In January 1980 both the Memorandum of Association and New Articles of Association and Byelaws were amended and adopted. These were not designed to be tablets of stone but could be changed by Council, if needed, to accommodate changes in circumstances or in policy, subject to the approval of formal motions put to the Annual General Meeting.

Following the 1990 IIS Conference in Bournemouth and its AGM (notable when a tie for the fifth and last place for Corporate members on Council necessitated the Chairman’s casting vote for the first time), IIS held an Extraordinary General Meeting. This was to consider resolutions to change parts of the IIS Memorandum and Articles of Association to satisfy the Charity Commissioners in order for the IIS to become a Registered Charity.

These changes emphasised the educational role and the work which IIS now undertook, and conferred tax advantages to IIS as evidenced when IIS received a substantial bequest from Dr John Campbell’s estate and had to deal with inheritance tax matters. The need to set up a separate trading company for any profitable ventures had been discussed with the IIS solicitors. All resolutions were passed and a formal application for charitable status could now be made. The Memorandum of Association and New Articles of Association of IIS as passed by Council on 20 September 1990 were then published under the Companies Act. This revision included the addition of a representative of each SIG and Branch to Council and the definition of a Branch.

The role and membership of Council 

Central to IIS governance was the role of IIS Council – the Institute’s ruling body which was subject to the views of Institute’s members via AGMs and which remained the policy making and governing body throughout the existence of the Institute.

The first IIS Council was elected in 1958 at a meeting held at the Royal Society of Arts by the Institute’s Corporate members. Its Officers comprised a President, Vice-President, Honorary Treasurer, Honorary Secretary and a Council of eight members. Council elected Chris Hanson as its first Chair.

As the governing and policy making body of the Institute, Council’s remit was to fulfil the overall goals of the Institute i.e. to establish professional qualifications; consider applications for membership; establish an education syllabus; promote courses; arrange suitable meetings; and act as a professional qualifying body for those engaged in scientific, technical, and economic information work.  This was inevitably a challenging brief at the outset of a new professional membership organisation.The education Committee immediately began work on an information science syllabus. A Development Committee was formed a little later with specifically younger members of the IIS to promote new ideas [2].

Operations and overlaps and the need for adaptations to committee structures to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Institute and take advantage of development opportunities are covered in Chapter 3.

Council vacancies were open for election at each AGM when Corporate Members (Members with substantial working experience including Fellows) elected the Council members, the President, Vice-President(s), and Executive Officers.

Council elected its Chair and Vice-Chair at its first meeting following the AGM. Only Corporate members were eligible for election as Honorary Officers. The Chairs and members of Standing Committees were determined at this first Council meeting, though, for these, co-options were extensively used.

Initially, non-Corporate members (Associates and Students) could elect one Council member for every 200 of their members. Later, each group was able to elect up to two IIS council members. At the 1975 AGM, Council submitted a motion to increase the number of Associates on Council from two to four. This was defeated following discussion on whether this artificial limit on Council membership was sensible, and a proposal, argued by Charles Oppenheim, Martin White and others, to remove any limit was passed.  Article 46 now read “The members of Council shall be Fellows, Members or Associates of the Institute”.

From January 1980, the revised Articles of Association ensured Council membership was dynamic by directing the retirement of the seven members who had served longest in office since their last election at each AGM. These could stand for re-election, but six years continual service was the limit and immediate extension of an individual’s service by co-option banned.

From 1985 the AGM approved extension of Council membership to a representative from each of the then three Special Interest Groups each of whom must be a corporate member. A later AGM approved the election of an IIS corporate member to serve on Council by each Branch. A member of Council was also appointed to sit on the management committees for each SIG and Branch. Often this person acted as the SIG and Branch representative to Council.


In 1965 Council comprised 12 members plus the Honorary Officers. By law, all elected members of Council were directors of the company and so responsible for its proper conduct and the fulfilment of statutory obligations such as preparation of annual accounts and an annual report.

Council determined its meeting frequency and met six times a year until 1975 when it agreed to meet seven times due to the increasing volume of activities.

Initially Council meetings were not open to members. Later, in the 1970s, it was decided that members could be admitted on prior request, apart from confidential matters, normally tabled for the beginning. In 1979 Council re-confirmed that corporate members could continue to attend Council meetings as observers by specific permission; dates to be published in Inform in advance. This access was now extended to non-corporate members. Numbers would perforce be limited by room size and observers must be silent. Council reserved the right to go into closed session. Branches indicated that members would be welcome at their committee meetings too.

A Management Committee was initially responsible for the overall operation of the Institute. This senior committee set the Council Meeting agenda and met between Council Meetings to review reports from the committees and working groups. In 1978, Development Committee produced a revised structure of the IIS. This recommended the formation of a new Executive Committee to replace Management Committee and which would deal with current IIS business and recommend matters for Council discussion.

By 1985 the Executive Committee met eight to ten times each year and attended to the detail of running the Institute smoothly and in accordance with overall policy and with Council’s decisions and instructions. The Executive comprised Vice-Chairman, Honorary Secretary, Honorary Treasurer and two or three members elected by Council.  The Executive Secretary was an essential member of the Executive. Council meetings now comprised more than 30 members – a challenge for its operation and the Chairman. Following the restructuring of Committees in 1987, Executive and a putative Operations committees were merged and re-named Management Committee, responsible for day to day IIS management and co-ordination of the other committees.

In 1987 Council confirmed the principle that all non-confidential Council papers should be accessible to all IIS members and for this reason, confidential and non-confidential material would be reported separately. Access was via Branch or SIG representatives or visits to the Institute office. This openness was promoted regularly via Inform.  Occasionally non–members might be allowed to consult Council documents.

The Memorandum of Association and New Articles of Association (Articles 60 and 61) made it possible for the Council to delegate any of its powers to a committee(s) consisting of two or more Council members with other IIS members provided that these complied with any regulations imposed by Council.  As well as its Standing Committees, the Council could also appoint advisory committees consisting of such IIS members as the Council thought fit and, in addition, such other persons as the Council considered suitable i.e. non-members. Council were responsible for electing the Chairman of each such committee and the proceedings of committees and working groups must be reported back to Council. This ensured that Council could exercise its oversight and control of the Institute’s development.

Council’s role was to ensure the Institute kept moving forward, developed according to the needs and interests of members and to direct and initiate actions, and be accountable for the activities of its committees. All key decisions required its approval.  As much of the operations and development work of the Institute was undertaken by its Standing Committees and Working Groups, disentangling the unique activities of Council from its Committees is difficult and Chapter 3 mentions Council frequently.

In 1977 Council approved a Forward Planning Working Group, chaired by the Council’s Chair to produce a three-year Forward Plan embracing all aspects of IIS activity.  Forward planning on three- or four-year cycles continued throughout the Institute’s life to accelerate and co-ordinate development. Council also discussed the stance to be taken when members approached Council for advice or action on professional matters.  Although wanting to remain accessible, the IIS policy would be to offer guidance when members seeking advice were dealing with a point of principle but not a personal issue.  The Executive or Council Chair would seek appropriate advice to deal with specific problems.

In the same year Development Committee proposed and Council accepted that Special Interest Groups (SIGs) be introduced into the Institute. Crucially they envisaged that these would co-operate with similar groups outside IIS and would be open to members and non-IIS members who would be encouraged to become Affiliates. Council also approved the trial of small local groups (perhaps of a couple of dozen members) to provide more opportunities for members to meet. The 1977 AGM also endorsed the decision to set up examinations for the IIS certificate. The affairs of Council were scrutinised by active Institute members and from time to time members were critical of Council’s membership and its performance, as disconnected from the issues important to ‘real’ members. In 1978 a discussion on the running of IIS occurred at the IIS Conference in Loughborough. Council debated the topic in June, considering such matters as the openness of Council’s business; whether members should be able to attend Council meetings, whether Inform shared sufficient information on Council discussion, and the Council’s composition. For instance Branches and SIGs were represented on Council but not by members they directly elected. The Chairs of all IIS Committees were asked to work together to review the Committee structure and Development Committee was asked by Council to produce a position paper.


In July 1978 a meeting was convened by a member-driven initiative – STIR, led by Christine Smith and Richard Ardern, and attended by 70 members. The common concern was that the leadership of the IIS was out of touch with the development of the profession and the concerns of IIS members. The session debated the future of the Institute, how to increase its status and membership whilst maintaining its high entry standards, and the role of IIS within the information industry and wider profession.  Several STIR motions were presented for the 1978 AGM, including one concerning Branch elections of designated Council members. However, these were not well-worded and consequently failed, as did a motion to refer these concerns to Council. The motions passed related to a review of the Constitution; the appointment of office and administrative staff; and holding Council meetings outside London; a motion directing Council to explore an umbrella co-operation initiative with other information bodies, and one to improve access to IIS Council papers. Council was requested to set membership targets for the next two years.

Prophetically, Martin White, Editor of Inform, commented prior to the 1978 AGM:

“Is the IIS moving too fast?  Its history provides numerous examples of decisions made in isolation and their impact on the overall development of IIS was not appreciated……………..I hope by the 1979 AGM a set of self-consistent constructive motions is put to the membership and that after their adoption, the IIS can settle down to five years of expansion not dissension”.

STIR and the AGM shocked Council into action on communicating better with members, listening to them and increasing its transparency. Much of the path for the next year or so can be traced back to the STIR discussion. Council began to implement the 1978 AGM recommendations immediately. Board of Trade approval was needed to enable Branches to elect Council members. This body required a definition of the term Branch, to be approved at the 1979 AGM. The Constitution Committee dealt with this and included Special Interest Groups too, whilst the Honorary Secretary contacted Branches about Council representation on Branch Committees. The Constitution Advisory and Finance Advisory Committees were asked to explore the eligibility of non-IIS members to join SIGs (later approved). A limited life Committee of a member from each of Development, Publicity and Membership Committee worked on membership Criteria and target numbers.  External Liaison considered the possibility of setting up a society to promote the interests of the information community. The structure of Council/Branch/Committee/Local groups was already under review by Development Committee. A notice on access to IIS papers via the office or via Officers was on its way to Inform. Confidential papers would not be accessible. A full time Executive Officer would be appointed when finance permitted. Holding Council meetings outside London was being investigated by the Honorary Treasurer to assess the financial implications. The increased cost proved this impractical but the Metal Society’s offer of better premises in London for meetings was gratefully accepted.

Council directed actions to improve the visibility of the Institute and its brand. In 1977 Council commissioned the development of a consistent house style for all IIS publications to be progressed via a new Publicity Working Group, resulting in the first IIS logo. A Qualifications Working Party also began work to clarify the IIS rules for admission and stimulated discussion on the fields in which information science can be practised.

By 1980 new Articles of Association were in place and Meetings and Publications were dealt with separately. The Articles of Association did not specify the areas to be covered by the standing committees nor their composition or terms of reference. The latter were drawn up in a standard format and presented to Council in 1980. A committee should not contain more than twelve members and its Chairman should be a member of Council to simplify communication, keeping in touch with and influencing Council Policy, (paper CP 153/21).

In 1982, the main issues concerning Council were the revising of IIS Criteria (a task assumed by Charles Oppenheim); and managing the cost of duplicating and emailing Council papers (any reduction was firmly rejected by Council members). Planning for the Jubilee Conference was progressing apace. The AGM approved the limit of eight years for consecutive service of Council members.

By 1983 the number of IIS committees had reached 20: Executive met at least twice between Council meetings.

By 1985 IIS was still operating with the structure confirmed in 1980 and its size was larger. Council comprised:

  1. The President, President-Elect and Past President.
  2. Four Vice–Presidents, nominated by Council following suggestions from members and approved by the AGM. Each was elected for two years.
  3. Twelve corporate members elected by the membership normally for a three-year term.
  4. One non-corporate member for every 200 (or part thereof) of affiliates, or students in membership, up to a maximum of four, also elected by the membership.
  5. Honorary Secretary and Honorary Treasurer.
  6. One corporate member representing each SIG and Branch of IIS, nominated by their SIG and Branch Committees.

The Executive Committee met eight to ten times each year and attended to the detail of running the Institute smoothly and in accordance with overall policy and with Council’s decisions and instructions. The Executive comprised Vice-Chairman, Honorary Secretary, Honorary Treasurer and two or three members elected by Council.  Later and once appointed, the Executive Secretary was an essential member of the Executive.

A major reorganisation of the Institute’s Committee structure spanned 1985 and 1986 and is covered in Chapter 3.

In 1987 IIS confirmed the principle that all non-confidential Council papers should be accessible to all IIS members and for this reason, confidential and non-confidential material would be reported separately.

In 1995 procedural changes for Council and Committees reduced Council meetings to three a year; Management Committee would meet more frequently to ensure communications between Committees and Council were improved and sustained.

Annual General Meetings

As a limited company the Institute needed to hold an Annual General Meeting (AGM) of its members. The agenda required approval of the annual report and accounts and the Auditor’s report. The AGM announced the election of members of Council and fixed the remuneration of the auditors. Motions to amend the Articles (Special Resolutions) or to fix subscription rates or motions on other topics could also be discussed (ordinary resolutions) and voted on as Special Business at AGMs or at an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) held at any other time of the year.

AGMs were open to all members, but only Corporate members could vote on motions concerning the amendment of Byelaws (requiring a three-fourths majority), the professional status of members, educational policy or the laying down of subscription rates (required a simple majority). Extraordinary resolutions required a three-fourths majority too. In 1979 the use of proxy forms for AGMs was established with the aim to encourage more participation. Any motion for a general meeting had to be proposed, seconded, and received in writing at least 28 days before the AGM in order to give members sufficient time to read them.

IIS tried hard to attract members to its AGMs, holding them as part of a Members Day, followed by an important lecture and a reception. Sadly, AGMs were never oversubscribed.

The name of the Institute

The debate about names went on for years. In 1985 excitement on the move to new premises in Museum Street in January, and the new image this gave the Institute, provoked the question again. Was the term ‘scientists’ now too restrictive in describing the current roles of members? Should the addition or substitution of terms such as ‘manager’ or ‘management’ be considered? A letter to Inform from Lindsay Corbett reawakened the discussion arguing that IIS be reborn with a new name or IIS extended with a strapline, such as IIS – the Institute of Information Managers, Consultants, Researchers and Scientists.

Vigorous discussions followed, with letters to Inform both for and against. The discussion at the March Council meeting agreed that the Institute did need an additional phrase to reveal instantly the nature of IIS and what it does. In 1987 a letter from Mr. J.K. Barkla in JIS suggested that the Institute’s name was no longer adequate to describe the full range of its members’ activities. This complemented recent market analyses by Membership Development Committee which indicated that in certain key areas such as financial services and general management the term ‘scientists’ could be confusing and a real disincentive to joining the IIS.

Membership Development put the matter to the January 1988 Council which directed the Marketing Co-ordination Group to review and submit recommendations on the name to June Council. The Marketing Group and a majority of SIGs and Branches were in favour of reviewing the name straight away before recruitment drives began again and a review of house style and plans for more effective PR activities were started. A change in name would cost approximately £5000 in legal fees and re-branding as well as consuming considerable effort and risk alienating members committed to the current identity.

Members were requested to submit their views to Pablo Dubois in his role on the Marketing Co-ordination Group/Membership Committee via Inform[3]. Fewer than 20 members responded with a small majority in favour of change.  Given the small response the views of the entire membership were sought via a member questionnaire and the October 1988 Council approved a plan for encouraging debate among members via Branches, Committees and Groups. Council agreed that a failure to vote, i.e. apathy, counted as a ‘no change’ vote.

By June, the results of the survey showed that those wishing to change were in a minority and Council had decided not to suggest a change in the name to the AGM.  Interestingly, member attention turned immediately to the Saunders Report recommending a merger between the Institute, Aslib and the Library Association.

Royal chartership

Stimulated by the Library Association’s chartership, the question of whether the IIS should charter was a topic of active debate during the 1970s and 1980s. The topic was explored at a 1978 Council meeting, considering the future development of the IIS as it approached its 20-year anniversary. In 1983, the letters columns of Inform were the platform for discussion, kicked off by a persuasive article in favour from Alan Blick. Head of Information Services at Smith Kline Beecham Pharmaceuticals[4].

The IIS consulted members via an Inform mailing. Those against considered IIS was not ready to charter; it would be costly and was a gesture to snobbery rather than professionalism. Counter arguments included it would further the professional image of IIS and provide status.

Discussion rumbled on until the Chair of External Liaison Committee (Charles Oppenheim) consulted the Privy Council on the question: “How would the recent changes to the LA’s articles affect any future attempt by the Institute to gain a Royal Charter?” The tenor of their response was negative – the Privy Council would be unlikely to grant a charter to a body whose interests overlap with an existing chartered body. Council then determined not to apply.

Staffing and office locations 

The challenge bedeviling all membership-based organisations is the sufficiency of volunteer effort. Many names stand out in the IIS chronology of trojan and unpaid individuals who were the lifeblood, brain and muscles of IIS. Until sufficient finance could be accumulated, IIS ran completely on volunteers including the first Council members. Jason Farradane typed the first few issues of the Bulletin at home and used a manual duplicator.

By 1966 it was possible to rent a London office and staff it with one paid secretary for two days each week. By 1970 a second occasional assistant was engaged. IIS benefited hugely from this administrative support for membership records, organising mailings to members, and dealing with Council papers, minutes, and IIS publications. Initially this was achieved without the benefit of word processing, email or the internet.

Subscriptions needed to increase to meet costs, but the finances were kept on a sound basis. This principle persisted throughout the lifetime of IIS although there were occasional deficit budgets.

The IIS office was initially located at 5-7 Russia Road in London. In 1974 the IIS office moved to 657 High Road, Tottenham also in London. A drive to save costs and the expiry of the lease on the premises in Tottenham had prompted IIS to see if its administration could be handled by a management organisation. Formal negotiations with the Society of General Microbiology led to the move of the IIS Office to Reading in 1979. There IIS administration was assumed by the Society which managed this task for several other societies (Inform 1979, 26, page 5 gives an account of the move). An active local branch existed for a time. Finance Committee anticipated that these changes would enable IIS to build a reserve which could be used for the purchase of professional services in areas such as PR.

After a further move to Tottenham in early 1985 the IIS office finally settled in a suite of three offices on the top floor of 44 Museum Street, London. This latter move was the result of detailed research work by an Offices Premises Working Party reporting to Council. Its remit was to establish a central London office to provide a focal point for IIS members and where the administrative systems could be developed to greatly reduce the burden of work on the Honorary Secretary, Honorary Treasurer and Chairman of Council. This continued as the IIS office up to the point of the merger with the LA. 

Appointment of Sarah Carter as Executive Secretary

By 1976, the IIS office was operating with the equivalent of 1.5 full-time staff, including an Administrative Secretary and the spare time efforts of the Honorary Secretary and it was obvious that a senior full-time role was needed. This role would assist the fulfillment of IIS long-term strategies. Despite Council’s regular confirmation of this need and occasional advert to members, IIS finances just didn’t allow enough funding to support this role.

In 1984 IIS reviewed all aspects of its administration again and finally decided to appoint a full-time Executive Officer. Sarah Carter was appointed in January 1985 as the first IIS Executive Secretary. She knew the IIS well, having been Honorary Secretary for 1978/80 when the byelaws and articles were rewritten. Sarah had begun volunteering over nine years earlier, dealing with the invoicing and mailing for the Information Scientist (later JIS). The impact of new offices for Sarah and the IIS assistant, space for equipment and records, with a meeting room capable of seating up to 12 people for committees made a huge difference. There was now space for meetings and members to visit; a central location; and new technologies, publications and systems made IIS information more accessible to members. Streamlining office procedures, developing a membership database, speeding up the Inform publishing cycle; and improving communications across IIS were the first priorities. The more efficient management of Council papers reduced the administrative burden on Officers.  More members became involved with IIS activities given encouragement from the Office and clear explanations of how IIS committees and meetings worked.  Museum Street had a buzz about it.

Inevitably pressure on space built up. By 1987 an IIS working party began to consider the location and size of IIS offices. The rent on Museum Street was due for review at the end of 1989 and the current premises were proving inadequate. In 1988 Council also agreed that the role of Administrative Assistant be upgraded to Membership Secretary and that a part time clerical assistant and part time bookkeeper be taken on. The 1998/99 budget allowed for this modest increase in staff at a cost of £7700 per annum. In 1989 the lease on Museum Street was extended to the whole of the top floor at a cost of an additional £3000 per annum.

Sarah’s role had proved transformative and her dedication and talent was recognised by the award of an Honorary Fellowship at the 1994 AGM.

Gillian Allen and Elspeth Hyams as Executive Secretaries     

Gillian Allen was appointed in a temporary capacity to give Management Committee time to consider the role of a new Executive Secretary. Council agreed that the role should now focus more on marketing and PR functions than office administration. In 1994 Elspeth Hyams was appointed as IIS Director with the brief to increase her focus on marketing and representation. In 1995 she stressed that IIS needed to take concerted action to raise the status of information professionals at large and to develop a prominent and national profile such as that of architects [5]. At the same time External Affairs began work on a code of ethics for the profession – an important step in professionalism.

A brainstorming session of Council that year reinforced the provision of firm administrative foundations as a basis for profile raising and proactivity as valuable for increasing membership too.

In 2000 Elspeth moved to the Library Association to edit LA Record and was succeeded by Mary Shearer, a member of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators.  As the IIS moved towards unification, Mary’s objectives were set: to raise the profile of the IIS and to ensure that information professionals were the profession of choice for public and private sector organisations seeking to be at the forefront of utilising their own knowledge base.


  1. Memorandum of Association of the Institute of Information Scientists as amended or adopted by special resolutions passed on 20 September 1990
  2. J.E. L Farradane Information Scientist, 1970, December, 143-151 and P.E. Colinese Information Scientist, Bulletin Inst, Inf.Sci, 1966, 5 (20), 5-12.
  3. Inform, 1988, 104, 1
  4. Alan Blick, Inform, 1983, 52
  5. Elspeth Hyams, Inform, 1995, March, 172 p1

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