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Comprehensive Examination Questions
March 1993

1. Librarians, archivists, records managers, and other information professionals working in various types of institutions and at various functions have responded to ethical challenges by devising codes of ethics applicable to their own special circumstances. Discuss the pros and cons of specialized codes of ethics and the factors that the drafters of such codes should keep in mind.

2. The respondents to a recent survey of librarians agreed with the assertion that to a large degree, technology can be viewed as both the root of our troubles and font of our opportunities." Discuss the stresses and opportunities placed upon librarians and other information professionals by the revolution in one of the following: personal computers, copy machines, or communications technology.

3. Choose a format other than the printed book and describe the problems of managing materials in this format in a collection. What solutions might remedy these problems? Discuss. If you wish, you may select a type of library, archive, or info center as a context for your response.

4. Assume that you, as an expert in the field of library preservation, have been asked to testify before a Congressional committee in support of a request for government funding for a national preservation plan for information materials.

5. A recent study at Earlham College attempted to test the effect of "unlimited access" to information technology on the teaching and learning process. Imagine that you were designing a modern access system to enable an individual (scholar, student, or scientist) to identify and obtain materials needed for teaching, scholarship, or research. If you wanted your system to have virtually no restrictions to access, what barriers would you have to eliminate? Consider barriers such as economics, psychology, distance, and time. Discuss.

6. Librarians are often asked for a "good" book on a topic. Discuss the issues raised by such a request. Describe the strategies librarians can use to satisfy these requests.

7. A recent article in a business magazine began, "It would be too much to argue that the jobs of 152,000 librarians in the U.S. are in jeopardy. But it's fair to say that their jobs will change dramatically over the next two decades..." Discuss how these changes are already taking place. Describe the changes you foresee in the role of librarians over the next twenty years and those aspects that you believe will continue to characterize the profession.

8. Standards are costly to develop and implement; yet they provide many benefits. Describe three standards related to information storage and retrieval (e.g., cataloging, indexing, online retrieval, preservation, micrographies, and telecommunications), and discuss how they have affected library services.

9. In light of shrinking budgets for libraries and other information centers, when should automation projects be delayed or accelerated? In your answer show under what conditions automation saves money and when automation costs money.

10. Libraries and archives not only must save fragile but valuable documents from deteriorating or being destroyed, they also must provide a means for users to get access to the information contained in the documents. Discuss some ways that have been used in the past and some that are being developed now to satisfy the information needs of the people who want access to information in textual and visual documents that must be preserved.

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