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Finding Asme Technical Papers

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Engineering Librarians Boot Camp

Tagged Division

Engineering Libraries

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.609.1 - 13.609.6



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Paper Authors


Scott Curtis Linda Hall Library

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Scott Curtis is the Head of Reference Services at Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering, and Technology, Kansas City, MO.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Finding ASME Technical Papers Abstract

A wealth of information relevant to current engineering research exists in the American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME) papers. Librarians can encounter frustration in finding ASME papers due to poor quality citation information from the patrons, incomplete indexing by bibliographic database vendors, and the many journals, transactions, conference books and individual papers where these papers were published. In addition, ASME utilized an inconsistent and confusing numbering system that changed over time. Libraries and librarians developed finding aids to assist in tracking down this material within their collections. This presentation, intended for the Engineering Libraries Division’s Basics Boot Camp session, will review how to address patron requests for ASME information in a systematic way, using both computer-based indexes and print resources.

Historical Background

From its founding in New York City in the year 1880, the American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME) has sought to inform and broaden understanding within the profession by presenting papers at its meetings. Primarily due to the initiative of Frederick Hutton, second secretary of the ASME, the society began publishing these papers and issuing them to the membership. Prior to 1883, either the author or the Secretary of the Society would first read the paper in front of the assembly, then perhaps a few copies would be distributed for re-publishing by journals. According to Hutton, also an early historian of the organization, “Little argument is required to present the disadvantages of this system. The tedium of prosy reading is hard to bear. Many engineers are not trained to read pleasantly or to fill large halls with the voice. Mathematical papers cannot be followed even by experts...”1 Hutton quickly determined a format of annual volumes for publishing papers through the ASME Transactions.

ASME has grown from a relatively small group of founders, “...depicted as solid and skillful men, who recognized the need for a better system of exchanging technical information...” and become a large, multinational organization of professional engineers, men and women dedicated to advancing the state of the art in mechanical engineering. 2 Throughout their history, this society has sought to transfer technical developments and practices to its membership through papers, standards, and books. As engineering librarians confronting this bounty of intellectual production, across an increasingly complex array of subfield literature from the society, we often find it difficult to find a specific technical paper requested by a patron.

Mechanical engineering is a rich field, and older papers have more relevance to practicing engineers and researchers working here than in some other fields, electrical engineering for example. These papers also represent an important resource for historians of technology, forensic engineers, and others interested in the built and manufactured world.

As the society gained membership and the numbers of papers increased, some of the papers presented found no publication outlet, but were published individually by the society as “Miscellaneous Technical Papers”. This practice began in 1928. At first, these technical papers

Curtis, S. (2008, June), Finding Asme Technical Papers Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3086

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