Frederick Wilfrid ("Wilf")[1] Lancaster (September 4, 1933 – August 25, 2013)[2] was a British-American information scientist. He immigrated to the USA in 1959 and worked as information specialist for the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland from 1965–68. He was a professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana from 1972-92 and professor emeritus from 1992-2013. He continued as an honored scholar after retirement speaking on the evolution of librarianship in the 20th and 21st century.[3] Lancaster made notable achievements with early online retrieval systems, including evaluation studies of MEDLARS. He published broadly in Library and Information Science over a period of four decades and continuously emerged as a visionary leader in the field, where research, writing, and teaching earned him the highest honors in the profession. Lancaster excelled at many fronts: as scholar, educator, mentor, and writer.


  • Best JASIST Paper (1969) for "MEDLARS: Report on Evaluation of its Operating Efficiency"
  • ASIS&T Award of Merit (1988)
  • Best Information Science Book of the Year (1992) for Indexing and Abstracting in Theory and Practice

See also

List of works

  • Baker, S. L. & Lancaster, F. W. (1977/1991). The Measurement and Evaluation of Library Services. 2nd ed. Arlington, Va.: Information Resources Press. (1st ed. 1977; 2nd ed. 1991).
  • Lancaster, F. W. (1968a). Evaluation of the MEDLARS demand search service. [Washington] U.S. Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare, Public Health Service.
  • Lancaster, F. W. (1968b). Information retrieval systems; characteristics, testing, and evaluation. New York, Wiley.
  • Lancaster, F. W. (1978). Toward Paperless Information Systems. New York: Academic Press.
  • Lancaster, F. W. (1982). Libraries and Librarians in an Age of Electronics. Arlington, Va.: Information Resources Press.
  • Lancaster, F. W. (1985). Thesaurus construction and use; a condensed course. Paris: General Information Programme and Unisist, Unesco.
  • Lancaster, F. W. (1986). Vocabulary control for information retrieval. 2nd. ed. Arlington, Va.: Information Resources Press.
  • Lancaster, F. W. (1988/1993). If You Want to Evaluate Your Library. Champaign: University of Illinois, Graduate School of Library and Information Science. (1st ed. 1988, 2nd ed. 1993).
  • Lancaster, F. W. (1991/1998/2003). Indexing and abstracting in theory and practice. London: Library Association. (1st ed. 1991; 2nd ed. 1998; 3rd. ed. 2003).
  • Lancaster, F. W. (Ed.). (1993). Libraries and the future; essays on the library in the twenty-first century. New York : Haworth Press.
  • Lancaster, F. W. & Fayen, E. G. (1973). Information Retrieval On-Line. Los Angeles: Melville Pub. Co.
  • Lancaster, F. W. & Sandore, B. (1997). Technology and the Management of Library and Information Services. Champaign: University of Illinois, Graduate School of Library and Information Science.
  • Lancaster, F. W. & Smith, L. C. (1983). Compatibility issues affecting information systems and services. Prepared for the General Information Programme and UNISIST. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
  • Martyn, J. & Lancaster, F. W. (1981). Investigative methods in library and information science; an introduction. Arlington, Va.: Information Resources Press.


  1. ^ Hayes, Robert M (Spring 2008). "A tribute to F. Wilfrid Lancaster". Library Trends. Retrieved 3 November 2011. Clearly, Wilf Lancaster is a superb teacher 
  2. ^ "Professor Emeritus F. W. Lancaster passes away". www.lis.illinois.edu. 2013-08-28. Retrieved 2013-09-17. 
  3. ^ Speaker at An International Conference for Yunnan Provincial Library’s 100th Anniversary November 16-17, 2009, Kunming, China "The Changing Face of a Profession: Librarianship as a Career from 1949-2009." by FW Lancaster, Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois. November 16-17, 2009 at the 100th anniversary of Yunnan Provincial Library. Kunming, China. Conference title: “Multilevel, Multicultural & Multiethnic Information Society.” in absentia.


  • Festschrift: Haricombe, Lorraine J. & Russell, Keith (eds). (2008). The Influence of F. W. Lancaster on Information Science and on Libraries. Library Trends, 56(4).