CHCCS/SCDHM Service Award

Gary Perlman

2007 Service Award

Dr. Gary Perlman has made a substantial contribution to the international research community in the field of human-computer interaction (HCI) for his work as the founding director of the HCI Bibliography (, a free-access online resource of over 36,000 records that provide access to the HCI literature and related subjects. The “H-C-I-BIB” as it is called by bibliographers, grew out of his efforts in 1988-89 at the Software Engineering Institute to develop a curriculum module on user interface development. It has since grown to be a major source for information on research in the field.

A native of Canada, Gary Perlman was born and raised in Montréal, during which time he attended two Stanley Cup final games. He left Québec after high school, to avoid CEGEP, and attended the University of Rochester where he earned a BA in 1977 in psychology with extensive coursework in mathematics and computer science. Dr. Perlman earned an MA in 1978 and a PhD in 1982, both in experimental (cognitive) psychology from the University of California, San Diego, where he was supported by an NSERC postgraduate fellowship.

In addition to over 20 years of consulting in information technology, he has held research and academic positions at Bell Labs at Murray Hill NJ, Wang Institute of Graduate Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie-Mellon University in the Software Engineering Institute, the Ohio State University, and the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) where he is a consulting research scientist and holds primary responsibility for user interfaces in library information systems, particularly multilingual and accessible systems. After 30 years in the United States, he moved back to Montréal in 2003, when his wife accepted a Canada Research Chair at McGill University. He currently conducts his R&D job at OCLC from Québec, as a telecommuter.

His research interests are in making information technology more useful and usable for people. He is the author of over 75 journal and conference articles, including one reprinted in The Best of the Journal of Irreproducible Results.

The HCI Bibliography is a significant achievement, emerging after a decade of work. As part of the process, Gary directed work-study students who entered abstracted bibliographic records, which he found useful to have online. Naïvely thinking that if a few students could add hundreds of records, the HCI community as a whole could add thousands, he led to a proposal to the ACM SIGCHI to create an online bibliography; this was met with uniform skepticism. Undaunted, Gary continued with the work-study program at Ohio State University providing the labour needed to add an initial few thousand records to the HCIBIB. Over a hundred volunteer validators then made thousands of corrections, producing a high quality bibliography.

There were a number of organizational issues to be overcome. Publishers were willing to give permissions to have their abstracts online, although sometimes this required urging from their editorial boards. In 1991, the first article on the HCIBIB appeared in the SIGCHI Bulletin, boasting over 1000 entries. Support from SIGCHI and Apple Computer followed, which helped to add structure and boost productivity. After a variety of awkward access schemes, the HCIBIB moved to its own domain ( in 1997, and started offering its search service in 1998 hosted by SIGCHI ( Around the same time, the HCI Webliography started cataloguing websites.

Adding one to two thousand bibliographic records a year, the HCIBIB has grown to over 36,000 records, including links to over 1800 websites. An improved search engine was added at the end of 2006, offering new capabilities to thousands of people interested in HCI. For his many years of contribution, Dr. Gary Perlman has been selected to receive the 2007 CHCCS/SCDHM Service Award.