In Memoriam: Tim Craven

Photo of Tim Craven holding his bike helmetThe FIMS community was saddened to hear of the passing of Professor Emeritus Tim Craven on August 17, 2020. Professor Craven taught in the Graduate School of Library & Information Science at Western for many years, and then joined the new Faculty of Information & Media Studies after the merger of the Graduate School of Library & Information Science and the Graduate School of Journalism in the late 1990's. He continued to teach in the LIS program until his retirement in 2008. Professor Craven's obituary is available online.

Professor Grant Campbell, who was a colleague of Professor Craven's in the LIS program, wrote the following personal tribute:

“Dr. Tim Craven has had a significant impact on the field of Library and Information Science internationally. In the 1980s, at a time when the world was considering abandoning professional indexing in the excitement of online information and free-text searching, Tim’s work on string indexing, along with J.E.L. Farradane’s work on relational indexing and the Classification Research Group’s work on the PRECIS system, played a significant part in the development of the online thesauri which are part of our current infrastructure of information retrieval. In that sense, Tim was an intellectual predecessor to the World Wide Web Consortium and its development of linked data standards in response to the seductions of Google and big data. Tim was a founding member of the Canadian Association for Information Science (CAIS) and the International Association for Knowledge Organization (ISKO). Those of us who came to FIMS when it was first formed in 1997 came to rely heavily on him for his memory, not just of the national and international scholarship in information science, but also of Western itself, and the procedures and traditions that were acting on us all.

When Tim retired, he invited me into his office to take whatever I wanted from his bookshelves. Those shelves were a treasure trove, on which, among other things, I found a rare volume of work by the classification theorist J.E.L. Farradane, a volume which had a profound influence on my research, and which made me a minor celebrity when I presented my research at a conference in the United Kingdom. When I offered to pay Tim for what I took, he declined, saying, “Just do the same thing when you retire.”

My father, an avid sailor, used to tell me of an experienced sailor who took my father’s chart and marked off all the safe anchorages that he had discovered through years of experience. When my father thanked him, the man shrugged and said, “Somebody marked my charts.”

In his own unobtrusive fashion, Tim Craven marked my charts: not because he wanted to show off his knowledge, but because, in his code of ethics, that is just something you do. I’m a better, more informed scholar because of Tim Craven, and I can hope for no better tribute when my time comes to empty my office.”

From Professor Grant Campbell