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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Library Review, Volume 63, Issue 4/5
Resource Description and Access (RDA) in the widest sense is the over-arching theme for this latest double issue of Library Review. At the time of writing, we are roughly a year into implementation of RDA, and it is timely to look at the contemporary landscape in relation to issues of description and access, including examining areas of interest which perhaps receive less attention than others.
We look at this topic from a variety of differing perspectives. In the first paper, Glenn Masuchika of Pennsylvania State University Libraries offers a critical review of the potentially negative effects of scholarly created, synonymous search terms, with a special focus on world religions using the Buddhist religion as a case study. While the topic may appear unduly narrow and thus render the results of limited generalisability, nonetheless, if the underlying problem is more widespread than that of one religion, it is of enormous potential interest and impact for both scholars and librarians. As Glenn observes in his paper:
[…] these results do propose that future work be done by subject specialists in all the academic areas to discover if this problem of scholar-created synonymous subject terms exist elsewhere, and if this scholarly practice is either a hindrance or an asset to scholars of that particular field and to the world community in general. If the results of this future work discover retrieval problems, then it becomes a concern of both the scholar and the librarian […] An article, essay, chapter, etc. cannot be cited by another scholar if the materials cannot be found due to unknown or unfamiliar scholar-created subject terms.
Changing the focus somewhat from description and retrieval to access and usability, the following two papers examine issues in relation to e-book access from two differing client perspectives in two differing countries. Lopatovska and colleagues present results of a case study examining how graduate-level library and information science students make use of e-books and e-readers at a US institution which does not offer access to such material through its library. Interestingly, their findings show that “despite barriers of access and usability, students […] generally incorporated e-books into their academic routines”. Their results also outline factors which contribute to reader preferences for e-book technology, and their survey could equally be employed as a case study of the adoption of emerging technology. Conversely, in a paper, researching e-book adoption from the Faculty rather than the graduate perspective, Mohammed Al-Suqri outlines the results of an empirical study investigating the use and relevance of the Technology Adoption Model (TAM) in examining faculty acceptance of e-books at the Sultan Qaboos University in the Sultanate of Oman. TAM was found to be a good predictor of e-book usage regardless of geographical location, and moreover, the study fills a gap by addressing these issues in an under-researched population.
Remaining with the topic of access, the fourth paper presents the results of an interesting study into Open Access, from the somewhat novel perspective of the user. Bruce White of Massey University Library analyses the
[…] outcome of different measures taken towards open access to peer-reviewed research by measuring aggregate availability of a sample of journal articles […] [which] was then used to examine the factors contributing to the availability or non-availability of types of article.
Thus, his study examines the proportion of available “high-value information” as determined by users, rather than measuring the total amount of material to which access is provided.
Measurement is also the focus of the following two bibliometric studies. The first of these from Adeyinka Tella is an analysis of the African Journal of Library, Archives and Information Science. This is one of the few studies of its kind in relation to the African context and, as such, offers a potential foundation for future work in this field. The second of the two bibliometric studies is provided by an Iranian team of researchers, Amirhosein Mardani and Shahram Abdiazar, whose research offers an assessment of the global status of research in Nuclear Science and Technology publications. Their results show a significant increase in growth rates of such publications is discernible in developing countries, contrasting with the pattern in more developed nations.
Remaining with the theme of knowledge access and sharing, the final two papers look at professional issues. Echoing earlier themes, the first of these explores some of the difficulties inherent in providing effective training for describing, cataloguing and providing access to unique collections. Yacoob Hosein and Portia Bowen-Chang outline their study of a structured approach at map cataloguing training by a team of cataloguers at the Alma Jordan Library of the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. Acknowledging the value of a collaborative, team approach, their study offers a potential model for use in other library and information centres, especially in relation to training those responsible for providing descriptions of and access to unique, specialised collections. Stella Anasi and colleagues examine some of the difficulties inherent in implementing effective knowledge sharing via ICT platforms in countries where such developments are relatively new and where particular challenges exist. Their case study explores these issues in academic libraries in South West Nigeria, reporting that while there is evidence of increasing reliance on ICT platforms, nonetheless, there remain numerous barriers to their widespread adoption, including lack of technical skills, knowledge and training, together with an unreliable and limited technological environment.
Overall, a fascinating global and contemporary insight into some of the current RDA and knowledge sharing issues and challenges facing the profession and the discipline as we move further into the Open Access era.