Richard Smiraglia: “Cultural Synergy in Information Institutions” (Book, 2014)

smiraglia-book-lg_1NEW BOOK RELEASE

The book, “Cultural Synergy in Information Institutions,” explores the information-sharing processes that exist and the ways cultural forces influence these processes

In modern society, humans are more connected than ever before and the power to share and use information continues to grow with advancements in technology and other cultural trends.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Professor for the School of Information Studies Richard Smiraglia explores the information-sharing processes that exist and the ways cultural forces influence these processes in his recently published book, “Cultural Synergy in Information Institutions.”

“This book is an exploration of the cultural synergy that can be realized by seeing commonalities among information institutions (sometimes also called cultural heritage institutions): museums, libraries, and archives,” Smiraglia said. “The point of the book is the cultural forces create a synergistic relationship among information institutions that shapes their roles.”

Smiraglia joined UW-M faculty in fall 2013, conducting research in information organization. He teaches courses in information organization, domain analysis and bibliography, and had been a visiting professor since 2009.

Smiraglia is also an associate researcher with the e-Humanities Group, Royal Netherlands Academy of the Arts and Sciences, Amsterdam and has almost 40 years of professional and scholarly experience.

“The inspiration behind the book came from my work with the eHumanitites Group of the Royal Netherlands Academy of the Arts and Sciences, Amsterdam, and its predecessor The Virtual Knowledge Studio, in which the focus of research was on knowledge apart from bricks-and-mortar institutions,” UW-Milwaukee Professor Richard Smiraglia said. “It led me to redefine information institutions as entities that preserve, conserve and disseminate information.”

While the book assumes as fact that synergy exists among information institutions, it is meant to look more deeply at the cultural effects on those relationships — and the possibly growing role technology can play in information-sharing processes.

“The oft-promised semantic web, if it arrives, will make information sharing among institutions critically important not only for scholarship but also for the advancement of humankind,” Smiraglia writes in Chapter 1. This chapter, he said, emphasizes the focus of the book; Chapter 8 explains more about what it all means.

Smiraglia has authored, co-authored, or edited many books and has published more than 100 refereed articles and conference papers. Dr. Smiraglia is Editor-in-Chief of Knowledge Organization, the bimonthly journal of the International Society for Knowledge Organization and is a member of the editorial board of Cataloging & Classification Quarterly.


Smiraglia, Richard P. (2014). Cultural Synergy in Information Institutions. Springer.

Link to Book Information on Springer Website: Click here.

  • Outlines the origins of cultural information institutions, as well as the history of the professions tasked with organizing and managing them
  • Describes a synergistic future, one where information sharing across cultures fuels scholarly work and the advancement of mankind, and drafts a detailed blueprint for its creation
  • Explains the imperatives for cultural heritage information sharing within the era of the Semantic Web

Cultural forces govern a synergistic relationship among information institutions that shapes their roles collectively and individually. Cultural synergy is the combination of perception- and behavior-shaping knowledge within, between, and among groups. Our hyperlinked era makes information-sharing among institutions critically important for scholarship as well as for the advancement of humankind. Information institutions are those that have, or share in, the mission to preserve, conserve, and disseminate information objects and their informative content. A central idea is the notion of social epistemology that information institutions arise culturally from social forces of the cultures they inhabit, and that their purpose is to disseminate that culture. All information institutions are alike in critical ways. Intersecting lines of cultural mission are trajectories for synergy for allowing us to perceive the universe of information institutions as interconnected and evolving and moving forward in distinct ways for the improvement of the condition of humankind through the building up of its knowledge base and of its information-sharing processes. This book is an exploration of the cultural synergy that can be realized by seeing commonalities among information institutions (sometimes also called cultural heritage institutions): museums, libraries, and archives. The hyperlinked era of the Semantic Web makes information sharing among institutions critically important for scholarship as well as the advancement of mankind. The book addresses the origins of cultural information institutions, the history of the professions that run them, and the social imperative of information organization as a catalyst for semantic synergy.

Keywords » cultural synergy – information institutions – knowledge organization – semantic synergy – semantic web