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Robert M. Hayes: 1926-2022

By Joanie Harmon

Former mathematician’s work had a major impact on information policy and the economics of research library operations.

UCLA Dean and Professor Emeritus Robert M. Hayes, who served as dean of the UCLA Graduate School of Library and Information Science from 1974 to 1989, died on February 12 at age 95. A pioneer in the field of information science, Hayes began his academic career as a mathematician and was an internationally renowned researcher of the philosophical foundations of information science and the role of libraries in national information economies. His vast legacy includes significant contributions to advances in library and information science, and he was instrumental in the development of digital data storage and retrieval, information transfer, and systems analysis and design research, and their impacts on libraries, information technology, biomedicine, mathematics, and international cooperation in knowledge production.

“Bob’s career began as the field of information science came into its own and spanned its development as well as the globe,” says UCLA Professor of Information Studies Anne Gilliland. “He was also the most gracious, generous colleague who truly appreciated their engagement in areas of the information fields that were different from his own.”

“When Dr. Hayes recruited me to UCLA while I was still a Ph.D. student, my librarian mother was beside herself with admiration and joy at the possibility of [my] working with him,” recalls Christine Borgman, UCLA Distinguished Research Professor. “Dr. Hayes was a pioneer in library automation, consulting, teaching, and writing books. My mother and I both learned the foundations of the field from Becker & Hayes’ "Handbook of Data Processing for Libraries" (1974), which remains a landmark in LIS. His books and writings were influential around the world, as they revolutionized information processing in the Library of Congress, National Library of Medicine, British Library, and elsewhere.

“Bob Hayes was also a wonderful and generous individual, opening his home and his heart to the world,” says Borgman. “He was a wise and gentle mentor and gave me the great privilege of taking over the library automation courses he had developed here at UCLA. When I later followed his footsteps in studying library automation in Central and Eastern Europe the mere mention of Dr. Hayes’ name opened doors, even several decades after his pioneering work. He will be missed by the vast diaspora of scholars and students whom he influenced so deeply.”

“Bob Hayes was a visionary,” says former student Eileen Goldstein Abels ('85, Ph.D.). “As a doctoral student at UCLA, he was a teacher and mentor to me and many others; he was generous with his thoughts and ideas.  He could synthesize details presented to him and see the big picture.  So many memories!”

"I made close bonds with Bob when I was a student at the UCLA IS department and worked with him on one of his last UCLA research projects," says Ulia Gosart, lecturer in the UCLA Department of Information Studies, whose mother, Oksana Popova, also befriended Professor Hayes. "After that, my Mom and I visited Bob often, especially during holiday times. He was such an inspiring teacher, whose high spirits would wipe my worries and fears away every time I'd see him, listen to him, see his smile. My Mom loved talking with him about Ukraine; every time they had a conversation she never thought once about her difficulties speaking English. Bob would listen, kind and patient and always so attentive. We miss him. It's very sad to know he is gone."

Robert Mayo Hayes was born on December 3, 1926 in New York City. During his childhood his family moved frequently because of his stepfather's acting career and as a result, he attended over 16 different high schools before receiving his diploma. Although he was born in New York, Hayes was really a third-generation Los Angeleno.  His grandmother Anna Upshur Mayo Lane lived in Downtown Los Angeles his mother Myra Wilhelmina Lane Hayes was born in Los Angeles; his father, Dudley Lyman Hayes was the student body president at USC; and his stepfather William Forrest was a successful Hollywood character actor acting in hundreds of films.  

Hayes lived in Granada Hills with his mother, stepfather, half-sister Wil-Ann and half-brother Dick.  Robert Hayes was an excellent student and excelled in mathematics, and in 1943 at the age of 16, he was admitted to UCLA. There was a shortage of graduate students during WWII, and as a freshman, Hayes was asked to teach mathematics in 1945.

After two semesters, Hayes was drafted into the Navy and was qualified for the V-12 Navy College Training Program, designed to supplement the force of commissioned officers in the United States Navy during World War II.  After boot camp, he was sent to Boulder, Colorado for officer training.  His ability to teach was quickly identified and he was asked to teach celestial navigation while an undergraduate at the University of Colorado Boulder.

After the war, Hayes completed his B.A. in mathematics at UCLA in 1947; his M.A. in mathematics in 1949, and his Ph.D. in 1952. His doctoral dissertation was titled, "Iterative Methods of Solving Linear Problems on Hilbert Space."

While completing his Ph.D., Hayes worked as an information scientist at the National Bureau of Standards. Upon graduation, he decided to move into private industry, and worked at a number of companies that were at the forefront of new technologies, including Hughes Aircraft, where he programmed a computer to fly an airplane. During this time, Professor Hayes also taught at UCLA Extension. 

From 1949 until he joined the faculty of UCLA's School of Library Service in 1964, Hayes worked in the burgeoning computer field for various organizations in government and industry. They included the National Bureau of Standards (1949-1952), and Hughes Aircraft (1952-54). While at Hughes Aircraft, Hayes programmed a computer to fly an airplane. He also worked at National Cash Register (1954-55), Magnavox Research Labs (1955-1959), where he was involved with advancing information storage and retrieval through the Minicard and the Magnacard systems, and Electrada Corporation (1960-1964).

While working for the National Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C., Hayes met teacher and artist Alice Peters. They fell in love and were married on September 2, 1952. The couple hired architect Ray Kappe in 1958 to design their Mid-Century Modern dream home.  Kappe went on co-found what eventually came to be known as the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc).

The Hayes filled their home with teak furniture from Denmark, and it became a center for their many friends.  Robert Hayes was an avid UCLA sports fan and attended every UCLA Basketball game.  He was also an avid Go player and achieved the level of Professional Dan.

Hayes was eager to share his professional knowledge with students and began his teaching career in the 1950s, when he held teaching positions at American University, the University of Washington, the University of Illinois, and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as well as at the UC. In 1958, Hayes was hired as a vice president of Electrada Corporation, an early tech conglomerate. While there, he created Advanced Information Systems as a subsidiary of Electrada, collaborating with John A. Postley, a former aerospace engineer. 

At the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, Professor Hayes led the training program in library automation for the professional staff of the American Library Association (ALA) in an exhibit titled, "Library 21", which aimed to introduce online retrieval to the general public. In 1963, he co-authored “Information Storage and Retrieval: Tools, Elements, Theories,” (with Joseph Becker), which was considered the most comprehensive text in the field at the time. Hayes also partnered with Becker in 1969 to establish Becker and Hayes, Incorporated, for the purpose of creating an interlibrary network for the State of Washington, a goal that they eventually accomplished. Their 1970 book, “Handbook of Data Processing for Libraries,” won the Best Information Science Book Award in 1971 from the American Society for Information Science (now the Association for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T)).

“A leader in the information revolution, he was an inspiring teacher, who valued cataloging, asking us to consider the intellectual foundations of information organization,” says UCLA Professor Emerita Elaine Svenonius.

Having served as a lecturer in mathematics at UCLA since 1952, Hayes became a full-time professor in 1964, at which time he played a formative role in the creation of the UCLA School of Library Service and the Institute for Library Research. He served as dean of what was to become the UCLA Graduate School of Library and Information Science for 14 years, prior to its merging to become the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. Professor Borgman recollects that during that time, he recruited almost the entire faculty, developed international programs, and established the school’s top-tier ranking in the field. After his retirement as professor emeritus in 1991, Hayes returned periodically to teach courses in the Department of Information Studies.

“Robert Hayes was one of the handful of towering figures who conceived and established information science in the 1960s,” says UCLA Professor Emerita Marcia Bates. “His 1963 book, “Information Storage and Retrieval,” with Joseph Becker, literally defined the field. 

“Recruited to head the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at UCLA, he brought the school to international prominence and esteem," says Bates.  "His worldwide consulting and visiting scholar activities brought a continuous stream of researchers to the school and promoted international and national understanding of the theory and work of the field.  He revolutionized the UCLA library science curriculum, producing graduates knowledgeable about automation from very early in the computer age.  He was a gentle, kind man, and whip-smart.  He attracted me to teach at UCLA and I very much enjoyed working under his leadership.  I will miss him.”

“As a newly appointed assistant professor in 1978, I greatly appreciated his open door policy and generous guidance, and now looking back from my retirement, I realize that Bob Hayes is among the brightest and wisest faculty members that I have known at UCLA,” says UCLA Professor Emeritus John V. Richardson, Jr. 

Professor Hayes was president of the American Documentation Institute (later the Association for Information Science), in 1962-1963, and president of the Information Science and Automation Division of the ALA (later known as the Library and Information Technology Association, or LITA), in 1969–1970. Professor Hayes also authored the 1993 book, “Strategic Management for Academic Libraries.”; and “Libraries and the Information Economy of California,” which was published in 1985 by UCLA. 

From 1987 through the 2000s, Hayes was a visiting professor at several institutions around the world, including Nankai University, Tianjin, China; the University of Library and Information Science, Tsukuba Science City, Japan; Keio University, Tokyo; Khazar University, Baku, Azerbaijan; the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia; Loughborough University, England; and the University of Graz, Austria.

"It is infinitely difficult to lose such a reliable person as Robert," says Tetiana Yaroshenko, Ph.D, Vice President for Research at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy, Kyiv, Ukraine. "We met in 1995 at the first time when he came to Ukraine for consulting on an OSI project, and we were in contact years later. We met at different conferences in Kyiv, Lviv, Ukrainian Crimea. All my colleagues and me personally are very sad. Rest In Peace."

Hayes had longstanding connections in Yugoslavia and was driving to a LIS conference in Dubrovnik when war broke out in 1991. After the war, he returned as a visiting professor at the University of Osijek in Croatia. He also worked with Professor Gilliland, who was then serving as UCLA IS Chair, to establish a formal cooperative relationship between the Department of Information Studies and the newly formed Department of Information Sciences at the University of Zadar, Croatia.

Professor Hayes is survived by his son, Bob Hayes, who is a motion picture cinematographer, and by his half-brother Dick Forrest.

For a 2001 oral history interview with Professor Hayes, visit the Science History Institute website.  

To read the festschrift, “Tatjana Aparac-Jelusic, Croatia, and the World of Libraries,” co-written by Robert M. Hayes and Christine Borgman, visit this link.

Visit these links for international tributes to Professor Hayes:

University of Zadar

Croatian Information and Documentation Society

University of Osijek

UCLA Newsroom

 Special thanks to Bob Hayes