To read this content please select one of the options below:

Patrick Wilson reference: practice rooted in theory

Jodi Kearns (North American Editor Reference Reviews and Digital Projects Manager, Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, USA)

Reference Reviews

ISSN: 0950-4125

Article publication date: 16 February 2015




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.



Kearns, J. (2015), "Patrick Wilson reference: practice rooted in theory", Reference Reviews, Vol. 29 No. 2, pp. 2-5.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles