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Years of Knowledge & Experience

The National Federation of Advanced Information Services (NFAIS™) was born not long after the close of World War II out of the desire on the part of the United States to compete effectively as an international leader in science and technology. At that time it was believed that science had won the war and that it would ultimately keep the peace. As a result, an intense international competition in science and technology emerged. The key to ultimate success in this new environment was believed to be high-quality scientific information. Thus, in 1958, President Eisenhower directed the National Science Foundation to ensure the provision of indexing, abstracting, translation, and other services leading to a more effective dissemination of scientific information. National focus was on the abstracting & indexing (A&I) function.

As the United States mobilized to create a new information infrastructure for the promotion of scientific innovation, G. Miles Conrad, Director of Biological Abstracts (now part of Thomson Reuters, Healthcare and Science business), called an urgent meeting of leading not-for-profit and government scientific A&I services. Conrad encouraged the assembled group to join forces, cooperate, and interact so that, as a unified force, they could make rapid progress in achieving national priorities while simultaneously promoting the international advancement of science. His words fell upon fertile ears, and in 1958, convinced of the value of mutual interaction and the interchange of ideas and expertise, a new organization — the National Federation of Science Abstracting and Indexing Services (NFSAIS) — was formed with the charter membership of the following fourteen information services:

  • Aeronautical Reviews (Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences)
  • Applied Mechanics Review (Southwest Research Institute)
  • Bibliography of Agriculture — now AGRICOLA (U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Library)
  • Biological Abstracts (now part of Thomson Scientific)
  • Chemical Abstracts (American Chemical Society)
  • Current List of Medical Literature (U. S. National Library of Medicine)
  • Engineering Index (now Elsevier Engineering Information)
  • Mathematical Reviews (American Mathematical Society)
  • Meteorological Abstracts (American Meteorological Society)
  • Psychological Abstracts (American Psychological Association)
  • Nuclear Science Abstracts (U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, now the Department of Energy)
  • Review of Metal Literature (American Society for Metals)
  • Technical Abstract Bulletin (Armed Services Technical Information Agency, now the Defense Technical Information Center)
  • United States Government Research Reports (Office of Technical Services)

The original NFAIS secretariat was established in Washington, D.C., relocated to Philadelphia, PA in 1965 and, most recently, moved to Annapolis, MD.

By 1972, membership in the Federation had grown to 31 organizations. At that time it was generally agreed that information of all types was essential, not only to the success of NFSAIS members, but also to the overall growth and expansion of the United States economy in the newly-emerging Information Age. The Federation voted to drop the term "science" from its name and opened membership to information producers outside of the science and technology sector. In 1981, with membership having grown to 43 organizations, the Federation voted to further broaden its membership to include for-profit companies. Then in 1982, the Federation embraced an expanded vision of the information community.

As a result, the name was changed to the National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services (NFAIS).  By 2007, technology had begun to transform the information community and A&I providers began to transform themselves. While still facilitating the discovery of information through the creation of essential abstracts and indexes, many of the original fourteen founding organizations, and others that had joined over the years, had aggressively expanded into new information services. They created their own distribution systems, added full text, developed innovative software and technology, and embraced the Web as both a new distribution channel and a new source of valuable content.

In order to more effectively promote its members' image, NFAIS again revised its name to its current version: the National Federation of Advanced Information Services. In 2010, NFAIS further broadened its membership base through the acquisition of members of its allied society, ASIDIC, when that organization decided to dissolve after more than 40 years of outstanding support and service to the information community.

Over the years NFAIS membership has come to include international scholarly associations, public and private companies, libraries, major corporations, and government agencies. The primary focus of these diverse groups varies, and includes such interests as primary and secondary publishing, host systems, technology innovation, data creation, information distribution, etc. Despite diverse interests, all NFAIS members embrace the philosophy underlying the organization's original motto — Promotion through Cooperation — and work together to facilitate collaboration and communication throughout the global information community.

Throughout its history, NFAIS has dedicated itself to the enhancement and advancement of this community by:

  • Facilitating the exchange of information among NFAIS members
  • Promoting NFAIS members and their essential role within the global information community
  • Encouraging discussion, understanding and cooperation across all global information community sectors
  • Sponsoring topical conferences, seminars and educational courses
  • Publishing newsletters, current awareness alerts, books and reports
  • Developing codes of practice, guiding principles and white papers on information policy and new technologies

In addition, NFAIS recognizes and honors those members of the global information community who have made significant contributions to the field of information science and to the Federation itself. In 1965, the Miles Conrad Memorial Lecture was established to honor G. Miles Conrad after his death in 1964. The lecture was to be presented every year at the organization's annual conference by "…an outstanding person on a suitable topic in the field of abstracting and indexing, but above the level of any individual service." The first lecture was given in 1968 by Robert Cairns, Chairman of the Committee on Scientific and Technical Communication of the National Academy of Sciences-National Academy of Engineering. The series has continued unbroken since that time.

In 1983, NFAIS created the title of Honorary Fellow to recognize those who have made significant contributions to NFAIS and who no longer work for a member organization. This honorary designation has been awarded every year since then.

In the new millennium, NFAIS continues to broaden its vision of and service to the global information community. Its original charter was to "…endeavor through cooperative measures, education and research to improve the abstracting and indexing and analysis of scientific information so that information will be more readily available to all scientists and technologists in this country and throughout the English-speaking world."

Today that charter has expanded to the improvement of all aspects of information creation, gathering and dissemination, and is not limited by geographic or linguistic boundaries. True to G. Miles Conrad's vision, NFAIS' major objective is to ensure the timely flow of information to all who need it by promoting communication and collaboration across the global information community.