LITA announces creation of LITA/Brett Butler Entrepreneurship Award

Contact: Mary Taylor

LITA Director


For Immediate Release

July 25, 2003

LITA announces creation of LITA/Brett Butler Entrepreneurship Award

The Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) is pleased to announce the creation of a new award to honor the memory of Brett Butler, a charter member of LITA, who represented the spirit of entrepreneurship and the accomplishment of innovation.

The LITA/Brett Butler Entrepreneurship Award, sponsored by the Gale Group, will honor that spirit and accomplishment in others by recognizing a librarian or library who demonstrates exemplary entrepreneurship by providing an innovative product(s) or service, designed to meet the needs of the library world through the skillful and practical application of information technology.
The winner will receive $5,000 and a certificate to be presented during the LITA President’s Program at Annual Conference in 2004.

Applications/nominations for the award are due December 1, 2003.

Candidates for the award will be selected based on the following criteria: clarity, effectiveness and adequate detail in the written application/nomination; including relevance and usefulness of the product/service to libraries; appropriate and creative use of information technology in its development; and significance of its contribution to the functioning of libraries and/or librarians. Applications should evidence timeliness in product/service development, originality of ideas, persuasiveness of arguments, quality of writing, and clarity of presentation. Applications will include references with knowledge of the product/service who may be consulted by the committee and potential sites, which may be visited or queried.

“Butler’s knowledge of what was possible, given developments in the electronic age, and his desire for providing an elegant solution for information seeking, gave him an unending supply of new ideas and innovative approaches,” Pat Earnest, award development member.
“He remains one of the stellar entrepreneurs of our time.
In this spirit, we seek to recognize him so that librarians of the future will remember him and understand his contributions to the profession.”

Along with Butler, Buster Spiwack and Lyle Priest co-founded Information Access Corporation.
However, Butler was a librarian and continued his distinguished library career well beyond the initial sale of the company and its subsequent sale to the Gale Group, the current owners.

Butler’s concept, in its infancy in the 1970s, was to index periodical articles using microcomputers.
Indexing at the time was cumulated and available in annual printed volumes, produced by typesetting, with quarterly supplements.
By using microcomputers, the publication data was more timely and output products could be computer-produced in microform, as well as be available online through Dialog.
Another innovation was the use of standard Library of Congress subject headings for the indexing, rather than a publisher-produced thesaurus.
This approach allowed periodical articles to be integrated with monographic publications in a library’s subject catalog, and also allowed searching across a variety of publications.
As machine-readable library catalogs began to appear, the parallel appearance of a computer-generated periodical index to articles with compatible subject classification was a unique breakthrough and evidence of an important entrepreneurial milestone in the integration of information.

At the time of his death (March 22, 2002), Butler was pursuing ideas relevant to capturing reference data for access and re-use by libraries, and also investigating ways of optimizing digital libraries.