April 21st, 2014
Jacques Tocatlian has always had an international take on learning and on acquiring information. He studied industrial chemistry at Alexandria University, Egypt; textile technology at Politecnico di Milano, Italy; organic chemistry at Utah State University; and information and library science at Drexel University, Philadelphia. After doing chemical research (Monsanto Chemical company) he developed information services in the US chemical and pharmceutical industries (FMC Corporation and Merck, Sharp and Dhome). Tocatlian then joined Unesco -the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization- in Paris and developed international programs (Unisist and The General Information Program) concerned with providing a conceptual framework for the establishment of national, regional and international information systems and services and enhancing access to STI. As the Director of the division of the General Information Program and later the Office of Information Programs and Services, Tocatlian and his team focused on creating the conditions for the gradual establishment of a flexible and loosely-connected world science information network. The main thrust being along five lines: development of internationally agreed-upon methods, standards, and tools to facilitate exchange of information; the application of new technologies and the creation of data bases; support for the creation of national information policies and infrastructures; the development of specialized manpower, and the establishment of regional cooperative schemes. In this context, attention was given not only to issues related to the handling and transfer of STI, but also to those related to Library, Documentation and Archives Services. Throughout the interview speaks of his dedication to the field of information science, the people who influenced him, some of his personal experiences, examples of important achievements, such as the creation of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, and the role of ASIS&T.