- Foundations of Library and Information Science
In the years spanning the turn of the recent century students, faculty members, and administrators—as well as governing boards and funding bodies—are finding the definition of the field known recently as library and information science increasingly difficult to articulate. "Information" is the appealing word, to be sure, and it has actually become the sole identifier for some self-anointed and would-be super schools. But just what does that word encompass with regard to the broad mandate of professional education that our schools provide? Can the substantial contours of our comprehensive field be treated, condensed, and made intelligible in one volume that is suitable for a variety of venues?
Richard Rubin answered that question just about as well as anyone could in the first edition of this work that appeared in 1998. The fact that a second edition has appeared demonstrates that his efforts were not in vain but, in fact, have borne fruit. One can hope that this fact also provides evidence that a codification of the foundations of our field has found a substantial readership. Theformat for the ten chapters and appendices follows the pattern of the earlier edition, but the present work is between 15 to 20 percent longer.
Chapters with elegant titles treat (1) the context of information, (2) information science as a service concept, (3) the changing definition of the library, (4) information policy, (5) information freedom, (6) organization of information, (7) the historic mission and values of libraries, (8) professional ethics and standards, (9) management of libraries, and (10) the evolving profession. Each has updated tables and references as well as some new material. The critical first chapter that sets the tone for the project by explicating the dimensions and scope of the information world has increased by about one third, and three new tables illustrate the text. Chapter 10, "From Past to Present: The Library's Mission and Its Values," the historical chapter, remains largely unchanged with the exception that in the analytical segment on mission Ranganathan's laws are now preceded by Michael Gorman's values of librarianship and American Library Association 1999–2000 documents on core values of the profession (302–3).
As in the first edition, following the last chapter a substantial bibliography of selected readings (more than seven hundred entries) appears arranged alphabetically by a classification based on the chapter titles. The appendices, on the other hand, are reduced in size by the elimination of specific documents. Primary sections that remain, with updating, include the selective bibliography of major periodicals and core reference works (indexes, dictionaries, and encyclopedias only), the listing of relevant professional associations, and the roster of accredited master's programs in the United States and Canada. Two examples of codes of ethics from specialized groups conclude the appendices. An ample index and author vita conclude the book.
If one could possess but a single volume to reveal what our profession is and does and how it fits into the society it serves, one could pick no better book. [End Page 582]The decline or demise of systemically offered broad introductory courses in our schools and the price of this volume will tempt some to pass it by, but they would be making a big mistake. There is no other source that packs in so much information in digestible form for a broad audience than this text.
On a teaching mission to China in 1999 I considered what one volume I would leave with my hosts. I easily selected the first edition. Had I a copy of this work when I made a more recent trip I would have been pleased to present this recent edition. It is that good. Rubin's work is a landmark of professional literature that one should have close to hand for thoughtful reading and for reference.