This paper aims to examine Patrick Wilson’s 1977 essay, Public Knowledge, Private Ignorance, which emphasizes practice rooted in theory. Modern reference work ought to look back to this 35-year-old essay to be reminded of the intent of reference practice by considering Wilson’s discussion.
This paper examines Wilson’s decades-old thesis and applies it to reference work and reference resources for today’s information professionals.
The crux of Wilson’s essay remains relevant today when applied to reference work and information-seeking.
This essay leaves readers with practical tips for reference work rooted in theory, and also expands on Wilson’s 1977 essay from a contemporary viewpoint, providing guidance for modern reference librarianship.
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