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Award of Merit Acceptance Remarks

Harry Bruce received the 2022 ASIS&T Award of Merit at the Annual Meeting. The following are his remarks upon accepting the award:

Thank you very much, Heidi, What a great treat it is to receive this award from you in particular, and in the year of Naresh’s presidency. I predicted years and years ago when I met Naresh and I said, “This young man is going to be president of ASIS&T one day.” And here we are in the future and here he is as as our stalwart president. Heidi, thank you for the work that you've done on the Awards Committee. June Abbas, thank you thank you very much for chairing the awards jury, to Carol Tenopir, Michael Buckland, Gary Marchionni, and Lynn Connaway for serving on that jury, and for this for this award in particular. I'm so very very grateful.

I feel tremendously honored to be receiving this award­­–the highest honor that is bestowed upon an individual by this great Association for Information Science and Technology. I also feel extremely humbled to receive the award when I look back at the list of people who have received this award and the award jury is composed of people who have received it in the past. And there are many others – I see the story through the work of those individuals of information science across the last 60 years so to have my name listed on this list is an enormous honor and humbling because my work I didn't do on my own. If I look at anything that people might have listed as my achievements, they don't belong to me but they belong to the many many people who I've worked with over the years and who have kindly worked with me on research projects.

This is certainly true for any of the leadership work that I did at the University of Washington iSchool and the work that I did in facilitating the iSchools movement around the world. This involved an incredible number of passionate and hard-working faculty and students and staff. I would love to call out a very for very particular notice my friend and colleague Michael Eisenberg. Michael, for many many years now, has been a great partner in leadership with me. I know he was among the people who nominated me for this award and I'm so very grateful.

I have a table of people sitting down here that I want to acknowledge. Joe Janes I met in 1994 my first ASIS&T conference. He didn't know how daunted I felt meeting the great Joe Janes. I hadn't met him but I had read his papers in JASIST and I was under the misguided opinion he was a real star in information science. And of course he is a great star in information science and has been a tremendous colleague. A lot of credit for the success of the UW iSchool goes to Joe Janes and Carol Palmer who worked with me as the Associate Dean for Research. Carol, I tell you it's a blessing to have you here. I have Chirag Shah who joined just as I was leaving the school but I was wanting to hire him from the moment I met him here at ASIS&T so I'm so delighted that he is there and leading our elected faculty council at the moment. The faculty are in extremely good hands.

I look back at the research that I've done over the years ­– I’ve looked at relevance and satisfaction, information literacy, information need, collaborative information retrieval, and personal information management, and I've always done that with other people who have allowed me to do shared research with them. I worked in my very earliest research with Ross Todd who was sadly departed – God bless you Ross. I worked with Brenda Mattick, with Peter Clayton and Anne Appleby and Selena Pascoe – they're all Australian scholars in the field. I came to the United States and I worked with Ryan Fidel and Susan Dumais and with Jonathan Grudin and with Stephen Polktrock and Mark Lampson, with Efthimis Efthimiadis. And I also worked with William Jones. William, thank you very much for allowing me to work with you for all those years on personal information management. The singular person who has been a partner with me in in life of the past 45 years is my dear wife Lorraine Bruce. I want you to give her a round of applause. Thank you so much for for the joy of being with you all that time.

So I should give you a little bit of advice. You know with advice sometimes it's so much better to give than to receive, isn't it? But I'll give it nonetheless. So these are some points that I I'd love to leave with you today:

  • Be a leader. You know, information science offers tremendous opportunities because of the skills that we have, the knowledge that we have, the interest that we have, to step up into situations and provide outstanding leadership – leadership that will improve things. So so be a leader.
  • Surround yourself with very very clever people – people who are cleverer than you. Now in my case I found it very easy to surround myself with people who are clever than me. Some of you, I know, particularly the awardees today (congratulations to the other awardees) might find it difficult to find people who are cleverer than them, but at the very least surround yourself with people who think about the problems that you're interested in different ways. Be an inter-disciplinary researcher. Accept the ideas of others. Allow them to affect the way in which you think about these problems.
  • Be excited and and passionate. Be interested. Be that person in the room rather than the the cynical person in the room. Wash that away from yourself if ever you encounter it. Never ever be cynical. I tell you it can be quite easy to feel that way as an academic. It destroys the joy of academic life. So be passionate, be interested, be humble. When you're humble it really does improve the way you listen to others. You really authentically listen to others if you have some humility about who you are.
  • Be joyful, be thankful, be kind and and gracious in your engagements with other people. People always remember how you made them feel. I can look back on my own life and I can remember how I felt when I received kind comments on my work from great people like Carol Kuhlthau and Nick Belkin and Marcia Bates. I remember one of my first ASIS&T conferences when Gary Marchionni took the time to sit with me and show me over a system that he had been been developing, and I thought at the time, “God, you know fancy Gary Marchionni spending time with insignificant me. Gary's particularly old as you can see because I’m old – I came slowly to information science Gary! I remember Don Kraft inviting them to serve on the JASIST Editorial Board and it felt so good. I remember being so inspired by Michael Buckland. Thank you, Michael for the way you've inspired me all my life. This is what ASIS&T is about. It's an opportunity to meet wonderful people. Be one of those wonderful people who people will say, “Oh golly, I met Chirag Shah today and it was so nice. I can't remember a single word he said but boy I felt great.” Sometimes you know you'll meet people and you'll say, “I didn't understand a word of what they were talking about but it sounded incredibly clever and I felt nice afterwards.”

Thank you to ASIS&T. ASIS&T has honored me in numerous ways. The first of those honors was to receive the Doctoral Dissertation Award. I was deeply honored to serve as the President in the 2014 deeply honored to work with fabulous Board of Directors at that at at that time and a fabulous team of leaders. And now to receive this award is a lovely capstone for my life in information science. I'm so blessed and I'm so very very grateful.

Thank you very much.