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Comprehensive Examination Questions
March 1999

1. Discuss the concept of customer service in the context of libraries and other information institutions, and describe what professional values and traditions shape this concept of customer service. Describe ways in which librarians can evaluate customer service and steps that they can take to improve customer service.

2. In The Bibliographic and Information Technology (1997) Ronald Hagler states, "Sheer quantity is the greatest barrier to access." Describe the impact of the continuing rapid rate of increase in the quantity of information and information sources on the ability to access information. Discuss the methods and technologies that libraries have employed to help users cope with the abundance of information.

3. Describe the challenges of designing information systems that can accommodate needs for information as "thing", information as "process", and information as "knowledge." Your answer should reflect an understanding of information seeking behaviors and strategies as well as the kind of data structures needed to support these different views of information.

4. Reference librarians have noted that users often do not take advantage of the structure built into information retrieval systems through vocabulary control. Describe the principles of vocabulary control that ensure systematic retrieval of resources from a collection. Discuss how a lack of knowledge of vocabulary control will affect retrieval.

5. Some librarians and information professionals contend that librarians are superb bibliographers and undisputed masters of the art of bibliographic service, but that bibliographic skills are often irrelevant in the electronic age. Discuss the arguments on both sides of the issue of the continued relevance of bibliographic skills in the electronic age.

6. Discuss ways in which funding for libraries and library services can enhance or impede access to information. Select a particular type of library for your discussion.

7. With the increased availability of CD-ROM databases, OPAC's, and Internet search engines, end-users are doing more unassisted searching for information. Discuss what is known, and not known, about how end-users use these systems to search for information. Describe methods that have been, or could be, developed to help end-users conduct effective searches.

8. F.W. Lancaster's predictions of a "paperless society" have not yet been realized. Either take the point of view that it will eventually come about, or take the point of view that it is unlikely to ever come about. Make a well-supported argument for your position, including the factors that will influence the outcome you foresee.

9. Public libraries, academic libraries, and archives often differ in the nature of the documents collected and the primary user communities served by these information agencies. Digital library initiatives, such as the American Memory Project at the Library of Congress, provide new options for delivery of resources to a diverse and dispersed user base. Discuss how digital library initiatives will affect the traditional paradigm of information agencies determined by location, user base, and document type.

10. As we near the end of the century, identify five events and/or innovations in the field of library and information science during the twentieth century that you believe future historians will acclaim for their powerful influence. Describe each of these five, and discuss in detail the significance of each.


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