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Information HuntersWhen Librarians, Soldiers, and Spies Banded Together in World War II Europe$
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Kathy Peiss

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190944612

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190944612.001.0001

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Librarians and Collectors Go to War

Librarians and Collectors Go to War

(p.40) Chapter 2 Librarians and Collectors Go to War
Information Hunters

Kathy Peiss

Oxford University Press

The OSS sent librarians and scholars to outposts in Stockholm, Lisbon, and other neutral cities to spearhead a vast collecting and microfilming operation. They acquired enemy newspapers, scientific journals, resistance pamphlets, and other types of open-source intelligence. Crossing paths with spying allies, enemy provocateurs, booksellers, and gossips, the librarians turned into intelligence agents, who used their professional skills in a dangerous information economy. Publications came to have value and meaning as intelligence. The OSS librarians confronted the problem of information overload as thousands of microfilm reels arrived in Washington. Through classifications, indexes, abstracts, and full-text translations, work done not by computers but by women and émigrés, they pioneered applied techniques of information science.

Keywords:   Office of Strategic Services, OSS, information science, librarians, microfilm, open-source intelligence

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