Laptop programmer Henriette Avram is born, Oct 7, 1919

Library of Congress photo of Henriette AvramHenriette Davidson Avram didn’t set out to revolutionize libraries, but which is what she did.

Born in Manhattan in 1919, Avram had visions of a career in drugs and started premedical research at Hunter College in the 1930s. She switched gears to analyze arithmetic at George Washington University just after her relatives relocated to the the Washington, DC space in 1951.

In 1952, Avram began performing at the National Security Company, where by her spouse Herbert Mois Avram also worked. There, she learned personal computer programming as component of an early computer system analysis software, which she later explained as a “bootstrap procedure.”

Immediately after a stint as a systems analyst at Datatrol Company, Avram joined the Library of Congress’ Workplace of the Facts Systems Specialist in 1965. She was asked to direct a team tasked with examining cataloging data to ascertain if it could be computerized.

The team made the MARC format, Machine Readable Cataloging, an automated cataloging procedure. Since the mid-1800s, library bibliographic and holdings data was typewritten on cards, some annotated by hand. When Avram’s crew set out to modernized it, the catalog integrated thousands and thousands of guides, maps, movies, and recordings. She produced a way to capture the card knowledge electronically, planning a mathematical code, applying numbers, letters, and symbols for different fields of information and facts.

MARC included the Dewey decimal process and other classification methods into a central system, and the Library of Congress info was stored on magnetic tape. MARC grew to become the countrywide typical for electronic cataloging in 1971, and Avram led seminars at libraries throughout the nation to introduce it.

photo of Henriette Avram presenting a magnetic tape containing catalog information to Richard CowardHenriette Avram presented a magnetic tape containing 9,300 documents to the British Countrywide Bibliography’s Richard Coward in 1967. Supply: American Libraries

The structure led to an global knowledge normal, which automated library capabilities and enabled sharing of info electronically concerning libraries. It enabled the interlibrary loans and searchable holdings functions we use now. The technique to encode and organize info was a precursor to the Internet.

Avram wrote the reserve, “MARC, its historical past and implications,” which was revealed by the Library of Congress in 1975.

Versions of the MARC method are utilised all around the world, in above a dozen languages the most predominant is MARC 21, developed in 1999.

Avram also labored on the RECON Pilot Venture, which studied the retrospective conversion of data, and led to the generation of a approach for format recognition. This method permitted computers “to assign tags, indicators, subfield codes, and fixed-field codes to equipment-readable records” (Reference 1). It was an early illustration of a “thinking” procedure that was employed to system MARC data.

Termed “a pioneer of the details age” by previous Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, Avram is credited with transforming librarianship into info science. She acquired a number of major honors for librarians, together with the Margaret Mann Quotation in Cataloging and Classification from the American Library Affiliation in 1971.

Avram retired in 1992, and gained the Distinguished Services Award from the Library of Congress. She died of most cancers on April 22, 2006.

Right now you can lookup the Library of Congress catalog and catalogs all around the globe many thanks in section to Avram’s do the job.


  1. “Mother Avram’s Outstanding Contribution”: Henriette D. Avram, American Libraries, 1989
  2. Henriette D. Avram, Modernizer of Libraries, Dies at 86, The New York Moments
  3. Henriette D. Avram Reworked Libraries, The Washington Submit
  4. The evolving catalog, American Libraries, 2016

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Also on this working day in tech background:
On Oct 7, 1806, Ralph Wedgwood been given the to start with patent for carbon paper, which he invented as section of a product to enable the blind to create.

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