Foundations of Library and Information Science

Patricia Layzell Ward (Editor, Library Management)

Library Management

ISSN: 0143-5124

Article publication date: 1 February 2000




Layzell Ward, P. (2000), "Foundations of Library and Information Science", Library Management, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 49-55.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

This is a textbook of some substance written by an Associate Professor at Kent State University with the aim “to explain the current information environment to students … and practitioners who are grappling with these issues, so that further study and practice will be informed by a realistic picture of the still developing information society.” The text considers first the broad contextual issues placing libraries and librarians in the broader perspective of the information infrastructure, focuses on information science and its aspects that inform the work of information and library staff, examines the growth of IT, defines and examines information policy. It then discusses the organisation of information before considering the mission of libraries, the types of library and the evaluation and development of the library profession. There is a substantial section which provides further readings and a number of appendices which contain major documents from the USA that relate to the content of the volume. Promising titles of appendices cover major library and information associations, and selected Listservs and Discussion Groups. Somehow I had hoped that some overseas (from the North American viewpoint) sources might have been included, but not so. So this title is very much directed at the US market.

Accepting this limitation the text takes a different approach from others by working from the general to the specific, reminding students and practitioners that information and library services operate, and are influenced by, what is happening in the broad field of information. It starts with a very basic examination of the information infrastructure. The overview of information science will be helpful for those less familiar with the field of information science and hopefully will ensure that the reader tracks developments in this field to reduce the parochial nature of librarianship. A chapter on redefining the library draws attention to the changing nature of services and provides a brief history of major developments. Information policy at the local and national level is reviewed and practical guidance for librarians is given. The centrality of the issue of information retrieval is indicated. The mission of the library is considered in a history which starts in 3000 BC and quickly moves forward to the mission of the modern American library – an interesting chapter for those from other countries for frequently it is taken for granted that libraries around the world have similar missions. At ILS school, and through professional life, we absorb the mores of professional groups and they may be taken for granted. Ethics and standards receive attention together with the library as an institution. The final chapter considers librarianship as an evolving profession.

The volume is well written and likely to be full of useful information for students and practitioners in the USA. For librarians from other countries, it has value in setting down practice so that we may the better understand the US approach. But what is now needed is for similar volumes to be prepared for other countries. In recent years few textbooks of substance have been published anywhere. Rather the concentration has been on producing how‐to‐do‐it volumes and “quick reads”. These have their value and use, but students and practitioners need to have reference tools to hand in either print or electronic format. This is a volume that will have good sales in the USA – and perhaps the next edition, for it will certainly go into a new edition, might have the subtitle “… in the USA”.

Related articles