REVIEWS: Library and Information Science Research
Electronic Journal ISSN 1058-6768
2006 Volume 16 Issue 1; March

in this issue:

Hillmann, D. L. & Westbrooks, E. L. (Eds.). (2004). Metadata in Practice.

Maxwell, Robert L. (2002) Maxwell's Guide to Authority Work.

Saricks, Joyce G. (2005). Readers' Advisory Service in the Public Library .

Smith, Susan Sharpless. (2006). Web-Based Instruction: A Guide for Libraries

Hillmann, D. L. & Westbrooks, E. L. (Eds.). (2004). Metadata in Practice. Chicago : American Library Association. 304 pp. ISBN: 0-8389-0882-9. $50.00

Audience : Despite what the title implies, this is not a book for practitioners, but of decision makers. This book does not lay out how metadata is added to a website (for that the editors recommend Priscilla Caplan's Metadata Fundamentals for All Librarians ), but rather a look at how metadata has been used or should be used in various digital projects.

Contents : Metadata in Practice is a collection of 16 chapters in two parts. Part one examines completed or on-going digital projects. The projects described in book include museums, cultural heritage collections (Heritage Colorado), campus image collections (two different approaches - Harvard and Minnesota), educational resource collections (GEM and Internet Scout Project), learning object metadata (CanCore), georeferenced digital libraries, (Alexandra Digital Library and CUGIR), and OAI metadata harvesting test project (Illinois). Part two reflects on metadata use in the future. These musings include open language archives, community-based control, mixed content and mixed metadata in a chaotic web, metadata and the Semantic Web, and metadata quality—a very major concern.

Summary : The authors of the chapters are all knowledgeable in regard to their projects. However, this is just a well written collection of articles which are often interesting in themselves or where their footnotes lead; rather than a collection on a common theme. Common points such as the need for quality control, common standards, changing standards, the need for flexibility to allow future changes in practice are present in many chapters. But despite the Introduction's efforts, there is no summarization of present or future metadata practices. As this is the only book examining metadata practices at the project level, it is recommended.

Ron Titus
Electronic Services Librarian
Marshall University
Huntington , WV USA


Maxwell, Robert L. (2002) Maxwell's Guide to Authority Work. Chicago : American Library Association. 275 pp. ISBN 0-8389-0822-5. $49.00


For anyone who ponders the necessity of authority control or how involved, time consuming and challenging but essential and satisfying authority work is, Maxwell's Guide to Authority Work provides the answers. Maxwell supplies a wealth of detail on the how and why of authority work. The detail comes with clear explanations and good visual examples. Starting with easily-understood basics of authority work and why it is essential to locating information, Maxwell explains that there is much that must be done and understood before the location of variant entries becomes transparent to the catalog user. The many rules that have to be carefully followed are then listed, explained and illustrated.

The book's format is a series of chapters listing and describing the various processes and procedures required for good authority work, thus any review must contain a list of covered topics. First addressed are the standards for authority control. Because names and terms change over time and more than one use of either is common, the creation of a standard term identifying each as a unique entry is necessary. The book's contents continue through fixed fields, procedures for and workflow of the creation of records for names, explanations of use of each field with comments, and an explanation of choices in personal names. Difference in treatment of corporate names such as the establishment of a new name each time the corporation's name changes and the treatment of geographic names and subjects is covered next. Forms of names with the rules for additions and changes and the use, choice of and common problems with uniform titles, e.g. collective titles, laws and treaties, serials, works before 1501 and manuscripts follows. Then the definition of a series and explanation of control of multipart items, numbering, parallel titles, subseries, and supplements is reviewed and the format of the MARC record is explained. Equivalence, hierarchical, whole-part and associative relationships of terms control or thesaurus building, a list of some commonly used thesauri for authority work, and an explanation of the use of LCSH and genre forms round out the body of the work. The book concludes with a discussion of the usefulness of utilities, the Library of Congress, and the cooperative cataloging programs of the PCC, NACO, SACO , BIBCO, and CONSER.

This book would serve both as a textbook for library school students and as a solid resource for field librarians needing to understand the rules and complexities of authority control. The excellent table of contents can be used to find answers easily either before or after reading the book. There is also a good index for those unsure of the topics listed in the contents. Reference librarians wanting to make better use of the LCSH may find the section explaining its hierarchy informative. The importance of authority work and how it affects retrieval results and the rules for applying it in bibliographic control are clearly defined and effectively explained for both the inquiring cataloger and the interested novice.

Martha Niemeier
Collection Development Librarian
University of Southern Indiana


Saricks, Joyce G. (2005). Readers' Advisory Service in the Public Library . (3 rd ed.). Chicago : American Library Association. 224 pp. ISBN 0-8389-0897-7. $38.00

  What makes a book appeal to a reader? This question is the heart of readers' advisory service and the central theme of Readers' Advisory Service in the Public Library. This third edition of a classic in the field should be read by beginning and experienced readers' advisors, and especially by library administrators.

Joyce Saricks uses her experiences as a readers' advisor at Downers Grove Public Library to relate the value of a readers' advisory service to both fiction and non-fiction leisure readers. She offers practical steps for readers' advisory training for new staff and continuing training for experienced staff.

The key to providing readers' advisory service in the public library is identifying and understanding the elements of a book that make it appealing to readers. Appeal elements include pace, characterization, frame, tone, and style. The readers' advisory interview helps the librarian identify those elements that draw the reader to a particular book or author's works.

Ms. Saricks highlights print, electronic and human resources for readers' advisory. Since the first edition of this title (1989), and the second edition (1997), readers' advisory reference resources have multiplied. Ms. Saricks describes print and online resources in detail, but also emphasizes the value of staff communication. She provides ideas for marketing your collection including displays and annotated booklists. Readers' advisory service is “personal” for each library and should be geared for your patron's interests.  

Readers' Advisory Service in the Public Library generates excitement for readers' advisory service, it emphasizes library as a place, not just for information needs, but leisure reading as well.

JoAnne Griebel
Reference/Instruction Librarian
Memorial Library
Minnesota State University , Mankato


Smith, Susan Sharpless. (2006). Web-Based Instruction: A Guide for Libraries (2 nd ed.). Chicago : American Library Association. 263 pp. ISBN 0-8389-0908-6. $52.00

In reference to the second edition of Web-Based Instruction: A Guide for Libraries , the adage, “never judge a book by its cover” could be modified to “never judge a book by its titles.” Susan Sharpless Smith focuses her book on library web-based tutorials and barely mentions other forms of web-based instruction. To her credit, Smith does mimic the language of ACRL's Instruction Section webpage, Tips for Developing Effective Web-Based Instruction, which also deals primarily with librarian-created tutorials. Once the reader realizes that the book is about the creation of library tutorials, the work definitely produces the desired result of helping the reader decide to commit to a web-based project and complete it.

The second edition of Web-Based Instruction: A Guide for Libraries is broken into eight chapters. Chapters one and two serve as introductions to learning theory and websites in libraries. Chapters three through seven deal with web creation tools, products, languages, and standards, while the final chapter handles evaluation and assessment. Smith started the second edition with a new chapter on learning theory. Written like a nutshell guide to distance learning educational theory, even the advanced instructor can benefit from the pedagogy section that covers ten different dimensions of learning and the overview of how to address different learning styles via the web. The new glossary is a welcome addition as many sections of the book are laden with acronyms and technical terms. A Resources section at the end of the book adds substance to content areas that are a little sparse in the text, including assessment and instructional design. The Case Studies subset in the Resources section is extensive; I wish that Smith had referenced more of these sources in the text instead of surprising me with five pages of excellent resources at the end of the book.

Smith has aimed her new edition “toward practitioners who have some basic web knowledge, but no experience in creating interactive websites” (4). Heavy with web concepts, genres and tools, chapters three through seven, are an excellent bridge for experienced users to cross into higher-level web creation. Smith's technical background definitely surfaces as she not only defines terms librarians hear everyday, like XML, RSS and JPEG, but she delves into the how and why of each term, giving readers a deeper understanding and better confidence in choosing a standard or product. (Who knew that JPEGs download in stages like interlaced GIFs, and that they support 16 million colors! However, watch out because JPEGs have lossy compression and data is lost forever when compressed unless you save the larger, original file.) After one reading of Web-Based Instruction: A Guide for Libraries , I felt more comfortable approaching technical staff because I finally understood their vocabulary.

In this newer edition, Smith tries harder to include public libraries in the discussion, but in doing so, she may have lost the opportunity to explore current, academic librarian, web-based instruction issues such as librarian led credit courses, cooperation with course management systems, and college and university web portals.

The frequent cross-references in the book were slightly annoying, but necessary as so many topics were tied together. For example, a discussion on color depth and color capacity in the chapter Selecting Project Development Tools , resurfaces in the chapter, Designing the User Interface , where the reader learns how the initial tool selection will further affect design capabilities. The final chapter on Evaluation, Tests and Assessment is short compared to other chapters and the techniques suggested would be best served in larger institutions that could devote a lot of staff time to web tutorial creation.

Although web novices with a technical curiosity could benefit from the wide exposure of products, languages and standards, many sections of the book could overwhelm tech-shy librarians. After pages of web programming languages and server technology, Smith says, “it is hoped that the previous section didn't scare you off” (p. 200). Therefore, this book is not recommended for all practitioners, even if they do have some prior web production knowledge.

For readers that would like to explore forms of web-based instruction for libraries aside from the tutorial, I suggest starting with Chapter 8, Online Teaching Situations , of Motivating Students in Information Literacy Classes by Trudi Jacobson and Lijuan Xu.

Despite my criticism, Web-Based Instruction: A Guide for Libraries is highly recommended for web developers in small and medium-sized institutions and for those librarians at larger institutions who want to take more control of web development. While librarians at smaller public libraries will benefit from the content and abundance of free resources suggested by Smith, funding and infrastructure may not always be adequate to complete suggested projects.

Michelle Dubaj
Instruction Librarian
Kent Library
Southeast Missouri State University