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

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Most researchers, even with computers, find only a fraction of the sources relevant to their interest. As Library of Congress reference librarian Thomas Mann explains, people 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, work within a subject-disciplinary framework which is often defined by a core list of specific reference sources covering a particular subject area. But, Mann points out, while searching within the boundaries of this model allows students and researchers to find many specialized sources, the researchers also become, at the same time, blinded to other possibilities - they do not perceive that works of interest to their own subject appear within the literature of many other disciplines, nor do they perceive any of the ways of searching those other areas. Subject expertise in one field is, in this model, achieved only at the high cost of losing - usually unconsciously - cross-disciplinary breadth of access to much other relevant material. 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 any one conceptual framework. In two chapters devoted to computers he examines the use of electronic resources and reveals both their advantages in providing access to a wide range of sources and also their limitations: 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.
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Editorial Reviews

Noting that most researchers go into a library with subject/discipline blinders on, Mann draws on his work as a general librarian at the Library of Congress to suggest a variety of approaches that can help locate relevant information in unlikely places. He explains how to get fuller use of computers, but also points out the deficiencies of depending solely on them. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
From the Publisher
"Thomas Mann is one of the two or three most important voices in contemporary library science. He unites a depth of practical experience with an intellectual vision to produce texts that are thought-provoking, instructive, and readable. Library Research Models is a fine book that should be read by all librarians and all interested in scholarship."—Michael Gorman, Dean of Library Services, California State University, Fresno

"Mann, currently on the reference staff of the Library of Congress and author of A Guide to Library Research Models presents his readers with an intelligent, lively approach to maximizing the potential of modern research libraries. Using his own public service experiences and citing widely available print and online sources, Mann proposes and describes six models he believes exemplify current research needs and strategies of academics and the general public. Each model is placed in a well-documented historical perspective and carefully analyzed for probably results. This very readable book is valuable not for any ground-breaking new theory or idea but for the author's comprehensive overview of the research quest and librarianship's response.."—Library Journal

"This book should be read by all who make use of libraries for serious study (and those who seek diversion too)....Interesting, readable and useful....It will make a valuable contribution to the literature and the practice of the profession of librarianship."—Journal of Documentation

"Will be a most helpful reading for my courses."—Nancy Zimmerman, SUNY Buffalo

"Librarians and other information professionals will be most interested in this book. Those librarians involved with bibliographic instruction will certainly want to read this book to increase their knowledge of how individuals approach the library and the methods they use to search for needed information....This book will also be useful in various library and information science classes, including general reference, cataloging and classification, and information retrieval theory."—Pergamon

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195081909
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/2/1993
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 5.81 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Mann received his Ph.D. from Loyola University of Chicago and his M.L.S. from Louisiana State University. A former private investigator, he has been a general reference librarian in the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress since 1981. He is the author of A Guide to Library Research Methods.

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Table of Contents

1 The Importance of Models in Concealing or Revealing Search Options 3
2 The Specific Subject or Discipline Model 9
3 The Traditional Library Science Model Part One: The Classification Scheme 15
4 The Traditional Library Science Model Part Two: The Vocabulary-Controlled Catalog 25
5 The Traditional Library Science Model Part Three: Published Bibliographies and Indexes 45
6 The Type-of-Literature Model 57
7 The Actual-Practice Model 75
8 The Principle of Least Effort 91
9 The Computer Workstation Model Part One: The Prospect 103
10 The Computer Workstation Model Part Two: Qualifications 113
11 The Methods-of-Searching Model 151
12 Implications of the Methods-of-Searching Model 181
Appendix 1: Class Z: Arrangement of Bibliographies 193
Appendix 2: Form Subdivisions Within the Library of Congress Subject Headings System 201
Notes 215
Bibliography 221
Index 243
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