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Library Research Models: A Guide to Classification, Cataloging, and Computers epub

by Thomas Mann


Library Research Models: A Guide to Classification, Cataloging, and Computers epub

ISBN: 019509395X

ISBN13: 978-0195093957

Author: Thomas Mann

Category: Photo

Subcategory: Music

Language: English

Publisher: Oxford University Press; Revised ed. edition (December 15, 1994)

Pages: 268 pages

ePUB book: 1635 kb

FB2 book: 1818 kb

Rating: 4.3

Votes: 410

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-Michael Gorman, Dean of Library Services, California State University, Fresno. It is an outstanding book, one I recommend for all library students and librarians.

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It is an outstanding book, one I recommend for all library students and librarians

It is an outstanding book, one I recommend for all library students and librarians.

Mann, Thomas (1993). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-509395-7.

a b Lenburg, Jeff (2005). Mann, Thomas (1993).

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Most researchers, even with computers, find only a fraction of the sources available to them. As Library of Congress reference librarian Thomas Mann explains, researchers tend to work within one or another mental framework that limits their basic perception of the universe of knowledge available to them. Some, for example, use a subject-disciplinary method which leads them to a specific list of sources on a particular subject. But, Mann points out, while this method allows students and researchers to find more specialized sources, it is also limiting--they may not realize that works of interest to their own subject appear within the literature of many other disciplines. A researcher looking through anthropology journals, for example, might not discover that the MLA International Bibliography provides the best coverage of folklore journals. In Library Research Models, Mann examines the several alternative mental models people use to approach the task of research, and demonstrates new, more effective ways of finding information. Drawing on actual examples gleaned from 15 years' experience in helping thousands of researchers, he not only shows the full range of search options possible, but also illuminates the inevitable tradeoffs and losses of access that occur when researchers limit themselves to a specific method. In two chapters devoted to computers he examines the use of electronic resources and reveals their value in providing access to a wide range of sources as well as their disadvantages: what people are not getting when they rely solely on computer searches; why many sources will probably never be in databases; and what the options are for searching beyond computers. Thomas Mann's A Guide to Library Research Methods was widely praised as a definitive manual of library research. Ronald Gross, author of The Independent Scholar's Handbook called it "the savviest such guide I have ever seen--bracingly irreverent and brimming with wisdom." The perfect companion volume, Library Research Models goes even further to provide a fascinating look at the ways in which we can most efficiently gain access to our vast storehouses of knowledge.
I just finished reading Thomas Mann's Library Research Models: A Guide to Classification, Cataloging, and Computers (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993). It is an outstanding book, one I recommend for all library students and librarians. I wish my reference professor had assigned this as a text!

Mann, who is currently (as far as I know) a reference librarian at the Library of Congress, describes a number of different library research models, including: specific subject or discipline model, traditional library science model (classification scheme, vocabulary-controlled catalog, published bibliographies and indexes), type-of-literature model, actual-practice model, and computer workstation model. He notes the limitations and powers of each approach, and he concludes the book with a cumulative methods-of searching model that uses most of these models to account for the weaknesses of the others. If you want a comprehensive approach to your next massive research project, Mann provides it!

Along the way, he made a number of excellent arguments. The first is that most people believe that the organization of information in the library consists of the classification scheme alone. Thus, people assume the only way to access the information in a library is to find the call number or class where a certain subject might be and browse around that area in the stacks. Unfortunately, this is a deficient assumption. As Mann and critics of classification schemes point out, one book can address many subjects. So, where does a book go then? Similarly, a book addressing one subject can address many different aspects of it. Which aspect should be be brought out in its class assignment? Given these probelms, a person browsing the stacks may be missing several relevant books if he or she restricts the search to one class area in the stacks. Nevertheless, classification is important, as it provides a library user access to the full text of the library's collection. Mann provides examples of information that cannot be found through a library's catalog or various bibliographies and indexes, but only through browsing in the book's of a library's collection.

Another argument he makes is the controlled vocabulary used in the library's catalog is a powerful mechanism for providing access to information. Specifically, controlled vocabulary provides predictability and serendipity. Yes, that's right. Mann provides innumerable examples to show this. He rightly criticizes information scientists who insist that keyword/postcoordinate searches have made controlled vocabulary irrelevant. "Tagging" has become popular. However, tagging lacks authority control and the syndetic structure of thesauri and books of subject headings, such as the Library of Congress Subject Headings, and thus lacks the full predictability of formal controlled vocabularies.

Mann describes another aspect not emphasized in research or in library science education: the importance of bibliographies and indexes. He notes that the Library of Congress classification places encyclopedias and other guides to the literature in the A class (these works, he says, serve as a "table of contents" to everything after it, that is, works in the B through V range). Class Z includes bibliographies and indexes. These are at the end in the classification scheme; they serve as an index to everything before it. Mann explains how to find bibliographies, both in the catalog and in the classification scheme, and, again, provides illustrative examples of the usefulness of these works.

If there are powerful, traditional approaches to finding information during the research process, why don't we use them? There are many reasons. Mann speculates at length. One reason is that methods courses in graduate work tend to focus on discipline or subject specific resources (often in the form of lists), instead of library research approaches. Library science education, on the other hand, tends toward the type-of-literature model. Students in a LIS reference course, for example, learn about specific almanacs, atlases, encyclopedias, etc., without learning how to find them more generally, for any subject, using a library's controlled vocabulary. Reference course work in specific areas, such as government information or science, is actually a combination of the type-of-literature and the discipline/subject models. This has been the case, in my experience. If I were to teach a course in general reference, I would definitely assign chapters 3-5 in this book! (These chapters cover the library science model: classification, controlled vocabulary, and published bibliographies and indexes).

Another reason why many of these approaches aren't used is due to what is known as the Principle of Least Effort. Mann refers to this principle repeatedly throughout the book and wrote a chapter on it. We are comfortable chatting with our fellow students or coworkers and asking for good articles or books they may have read or seen, or simply looking at the footnotes of one or two articles we may have happened across in a simple keyword search of some particular database.

Mann's reliance on controlled vocabulary could be considered one of the book's weaknesses. Yes, it is important for finding information in the library, but it is difficult to teach. I would guess that most librarians would not feel comfortable teaching the LCSH! Also, most people loathe to consult the big red LCSH books, but, at the same time, there isn't an easy way to browse them online. Even the LOC's authorities Web site isn't as easy as browsing the LCSH books, in my opinion.

Another criticism of the book may be that it is a systems approach to research. That is, the book emphasizes the systems of research rather than the user. Well, that may be, but Mann does acknowledge the weaknesses of these research models and the systems they use. He also acknowledges that they take some learning. But, especially for print resources, how else is a user to find information in the library? There's been lots of research done on information seeking behavior, but few if any of these studies have suggested real changes to the current library organization model of classification, a vocabulary-controlled catalog, and indexes and bibliographies.

In spite of these possible criticisms, this book helped me see the organization of library information as a whole (classification [browsing], vocabulary-controlled catalog, bibliographies and indexes). This book has me looking very much forward to an update of Mann's other book, which will be released later this year: The Oxford Guide to Library Research.
I'm sure I can't tell you anything new about Thomas Mann, so I'll give you my take.

This book was recommended to me by one of my professors in library school. Within pages, you will have insights into patron behavior that you never had before, and this will help you develop strategies for dealing with it.

If you've got the time, delve into the bibliography and additional reading recommendations. Well worth it.

You'll want to buy it, not borrow it. The information is dense and invaluable, and you'll refer to it regularly.
Always great
Dr. Mann (who has a Ph.D. in English and worked as a private investigator at one time) is a senior reference librarian at the LoC and knows his stuff. If you need serious help stop by the main reading room on Weds. nights and you'll likely find him. The book is very good but his personal knowledge is even better!
Got this book for college, half the price of the college bookstore. Arrived in perfect shape by mail within 3 days. No complaints.