LIS 205: Introduction to Information Sources & Services Unit 1: Part 1Defining Reference Kevin Rioux, PhD Division of Library and Information Science
Question: So.what does reference mean?
Concepts associated with reference: Authority Relationship to Web sources? User-friendliness and barriers to it Mediation Others?
Some history: Before the late 19 th CenturyYoure on your own. Samuel Green: Personal Relations Between Librarians and Readers, 1876 Three basic reference functions: Information Guidance Instruction 1887first library school at Columbia Emergence of a service ethic in early 20 th Century Early management theories Development of special libraries Service followed development of communication technologies
How our field talks to itself about reference: Scholarly works in print and online journals Best Practices articles in print and online journals Online sites (especially http://www.ala/org/rusa) Listservs (e.g., LIBREF-L)
Services related to the Information approach to reference Characteristics Typically focused on efforts to address a specific information need Ready reference questions Verifying bibliographic records Interlibrary Loan (ILL) Document Delivery Information Services (especially regarding public services) Referral Services Research Assistance Fee-based Services Information Brokering
Services related to the Guidance approach to reference Characteristics: Typically associated with users who have a continuing information need May be a single encounter with user, or may develop into a long- term working relationship Readers Advisory Bibliotherapy Term-paper counseling SDI Traditional approach to SDI profiling
Services related to the Instruction approach to reference Characteristics Complements information approaches Working with users who need or want to learn how to use resources on their own Often formal instruction programs support academic institutions curricular activities Both high and low levels of specificity General orientations In-depth workshops or classes One-on-one instruction Group instruction
Trends Cooperative reference services E-reference Reliance on both print and electronic resourcesmaintaining skills in both of these information environments. Acknowledgement of stressors that exist in the otherwise gratifying reference position Tiered reference departments: information desk vs. reference desk vs. liaison services Acknowledgement of the importance of understanding users information needs and information behavior
Unit 1: Part 2Selecting and Evaluating Reference Sources
Some concepts associated with reference source Arrangement and treatment allows easy access to specific pieces of information Not meant to be read in sequence Typically contains a very thorough index Traditionally in book format--changing rapidly Authoritative Roughly two types of reference source: Compilations of information (atlases, dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, yearbooks, biography sources, etc.) Compilations of references to other sources (catalogs, indexes, bibliographies, etc.)
Some concepts associated with reference collection Now recognized as being a collection containing sources of many different formats May or may not be purchased by the library This is a continuous and active decision making process A large part of the job is to monitor new online sources that may be useful Are often WebPages maintained by librarians (e.g., Virtual Reference Shelf) Hybrid solutions that combine print and online sources to address information needs
IMPORTANT to have a written collection development policy! Forces you to: Identify the reference dept.s objectives and priorities Define the content and scope of the collection Determine who does what Define selection criteria Develop policy Determine funding Determine outside relationships Collection development policies are living documents that are continuously updated
Evaluation of reference sources Evaluation --Necessary element of collection development Typically an issue when acquiring new sources (purchased, free, or via sharing agreement) When deciding to weed materials
The Virtual Reference Shelf Lots of relatively high-quality, free sources on the Web Some free online sources may supplant traditional printed sources. Examples: Books in Print vs. Amazon.com -- both have reliable basic bibliographic information Organizational websites vs. Encyclopedia of Associations Websites constructed by other librarians Internet Public Library Ready Reference collection
Evaluation criterion: Format Print materials Quality of the actual construction of the item Quality of illustrations and strong relationship to text Pros: easy to use and predictable cost Cons: take up room, may not be the most current info available Microformats Pros: Save space, good for preserving content Cons: not so easy to access, expensive viewing equipment CD-ROMS Pros: store large amounts of information, can include images and sound Cons: expensive viewing equipment--may be surpassed by Web in currency Web/Online Databases Pros: currency Cons: harder to use, unpredictable costs
Evaluation criterion: Scope Examine the item in light of statements of purpose Has the author accomplished what s/he set out to do as described by the statement of purpose? Subject, geographical, linguistic, time, currency, are some of the variables to examine
Evaluation criterion: Relation to Similar Works Is it unique? Is it written for a different audience? Is is a spinoff? If so, is it appropriate? Does it expand your collection enough to make it worth purchasing?
Evaluation criterion: Authority Do the authors have the experience of education to be writing such an item? What organizations are they affiliated with? What is the reputation of the publisher?
Evaluation criterion: Treatment Is the presentation of the material of high quality? Are any of the topics covered overly-politicized or glossed-over? What audience is the material geared toward?
Evaluation criterion: Special Features Useful search tools? Documentation and training materials? Customer service? Any other bells and whistles? Are you getting a good deal?
Evaluation criterion: Cost Extremely variable, depending on: Vendor Package deals Size of your service population Number of concurrent users Remote of local access Per-use schedule or unlimited use Need to determine if the cost is justified by the need
Selection Aids Reference material reviews in periodicals: Reference Books Bulletin (part of Booklist) Various Library Journal columns Choice Reference and User Services Quarterly American Reference Books Annual College & Research Libraries Formal Guides ALAs Guide to Reference Books Walfords Guide to Reference Books (British) Sweetlands Fundamental Reference Sources Other specialized guides for schools, sciences, and other areas
Physical Arrangement of the Reference Collection Ready reference collection Grouping types of sources However the collection is arranged, printed guides should be provided for users
Weeding the reference collection Systematic weeding process should be included in the collection development policy Consider: Timeliness Physical condition How the resources is best accessed (i.e., format) Old material may be useful for historical research
Unit 1: Part 3--Dictionaries
Origins of the dictionary Earliest dictionary concept: Glosses that were used to translate Latin texts into vernacular language Early dictionaries were arranged according to subject rather than alphabetically--due to philosophical ideas about the nature of knowledge.
Contemporary use of dictionaries Define words, check spelling, pronunciation, usage, etymology, syllabication, part of speech. Sometimes indicate antonyms, synonyms, examples of usage May include illustrations Political: dictionaries have some influence on the standardization of language Descriptive vs. prescriptive approaches to compiling dictionaries Types: Unabridged -- all words in current usage Abridged Etymological Slang Dual-language Dialect Usage
Evaluation of dictionaries: Format Print: from the largest unabridged to the tiniest pocket dictionary, one should consider: Users that will consult the dictionary Convenience vs. comprehensiveness Cost Currency Web-based dictionaries Extremely convenient Look for quality indicators: publisher/compiler, recent date, ease of use, good interface, etc. Many may be older works in the public domain, so caution is advised.
Evaluation of dictionaries: Scope Scope variables: Etymology Usage Pronunciation guide Geographical and proper names Illustrations Breadth of coverage
Other dictionary evaluation/selection variables: Authority: is the editorial team credible? Accuracy: clear, unambiguous definitions that reflect current usage What are the needs of the users? (Dictionaries are complied for specific audiences) What are the current dictionary resources? Are specialized subject dictionaries needed? Webster is not copyrighted (!) Buying guide: Kisters Best Dictionaries for Adults & Young People: A Comparative Guide
Types of dictionaries Unabridged--three primary ones Websters 3rd New International Dictionary of the English Language (1961) Updated with addenda In need of revision, but is considered autoritative Random House Websters Unabridged Dictionary (2nd ed.) (1997) Somewhat smaller Reflects the most modern usage--most up to date--supplements Websters 3rd Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Dictionary of the English Language (1965) Unabridged dictionaries are expensive, huge, and used all the time. Worth the cost.
Types of dictionaries, contd Etymological Dictionaries Oxford English Dictionary (1989) Premier source for etymology 20 volume set, now on CD-ROM Other good choices: New Shorter Oxford Dictionary on Historical Principles Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology
Types of dictionaries, contd Desk Dictionaries Merriam-Websters Collegiate Dictionary (2003). Comes with a CD-ROM. See Amazon.com description Good general use dictionary for adults--highly authoritative Entirely available on the Web for free Other good ones: American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language Attractive and heavily illustrated Websters New World College Dictionary Printed by Macmillan Primary focuses on English as it practiced in the US
Types of dictionaries, contd School dictionaries Simplified, easier to read definitions Type and illustrations are larger Understood by readers with limited vocabularies Examples: American Heritage Concise Dictionary World Book Dictionary Macmillan First Dictionary
Types of dictionaries, contd Foreign language dictionaries: Often have usage information Colloquialisms Pronunciation guides Geographical names Examples: Cassells series Larousses series Oxford series (esp. non-European languages) Harper Collins Online: www.yourdictionary.comwww.yourdictionary.com Extensive links to free language dictionaries
Types of dictionaries, contd Dialect dictionaries Cover regionalisms in usage, pronunciation and spelling Single words as well as phrases Geographical usage labels Example: Dictionary of American English 5 volumes (eventually) Most extensive dialect dictionary by far
Types of dictionaries, contd Slang dictionaries Only colloquial speech Cover vulgar and colloquial terms not covered in standard dictionaries Examples: Dictionary of American Slang (1995) Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang (1994)
Types of dictionaries, contd Other types of dictionaries: Thesauri Antonyms and synonyms Rogets is the most authoritative Usage dictionaries Covers standard grammar and syntax Points out common errors Word menus e.g., Random House Word Menu Lists related words such as all the bones in the human body Abbreviation and acronym dictionaries Often specialized e.g., Acronyms, Initialisms & Abbreviations Dictionary Quotation books Bartletts is a classic, but there are many others Indexed by subject, author, and date of publication Subject Specific Dictionaries
Unit 1: Part 4--Encyclopedias
Use of encyclopedias Encyclopedias provide information on a wide array of topics in an accessible format, first on a general level, and then on a specific level by referring the reader to more detailed sources of information. Types of information needs addressed by encyclopedias: Ready reference General information about topics Pre-search information
Types of encyclopedias Single volume encyclopedias Full format or desk size More concise than multivolume sets Encyclopedias for young people Support school curricula with pedagogical tools Simplified language, but good coverage Single subject encyclopedias Can augment overall collection Yearbooks and supplements Foreign and foreign-language encyclopedias
Evaluating encyclopedias for use or purchase Scope Subject coverage Audience Breadth and depth Pointers to other sources Cross-references Study guides Uniqueness Authority Accuracy Objectivity Currency Indexing and other access tools
Format of the encyclopedia Print Quickly accessible Popular May not be as up to date Expensive Space issues CD-ROM Inexpensive and popular Updated every year Online Updated frequently Encyclopedia Brittanica is free online Electronic versions have audio and video features
Reviewing tools for encyclopedias Kisters Best Encyclopedias: A Comparative Guide to General and Specialized Encyclopedias Subject Encyclopedias ARBA Guide to Subject Encyclopedias and Dictionaries Reference Books Bulletin (Booklist)
Important general enyclopedias World Book Encyclopedia Comptons Encyclopedia Encyclopaedia Brittanica Encyclopedia Americana Brittanica Online Encarta encyclopedia products Random House Encyclopedia Columbia Encyclopedia