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Comprehensive Examination Questions
July 1992

1. The history of books and libraries is in many ways a study of technical, material, and cultural revolutions. Discuss two or three such revolutions and explain their influence on books, libraries, and the world at large.

2. Should the reference department of a private university library offer the same quality and extent of reference service to outsiders as it does to its own registered students? Discuss the issues one must consider when making a determination on this matter. Include the reasons or evidence underlying your opinion.

3. Define the terms controlled vocabulary and natural language in the context of information storage and retrieval. Discuss the roles of controlled vocabulary and natural language in how we organize databases and catalogs and how we search for information.

4. "Consultative management" may be used to describe the management style within a particular library. What does consultative management mean? How does it work in a hierarchical organizational structure? What are the benefits of this management style? What are its limitations? In answering this question, use the example of a type of library or archive to illustrate how such a management style would be implemented.

5. Librarians and archivists face potential conflicts between internal professional values, embodied in such documents as their Codes of Ethics, and external pressures of various sorts. Discuss these conflicts and ways in which librarians might anticipate and attempt to resolve them.

6. In 1965, Edward C. Banfield wrote, "The public library has more users and more money today than ever before, but it lacks a purpose. It is trying to do some things that it probably cannot do, and it is doing others that it probably ought not to do. At the same time, it is neglecting what may be its real opportunities. What the library needs is first, a purpose that is both in accord with the realities of present day life . . .and second, a program that is imaginatively designed to carry its purpose into effect."How might the same be said of today's public library? How might other types of libraries face the same concerns?

7. Local historical societies often have photographs of regional interest among their holdings. Describe some strategies that such institutions might use to provide subject access to such material, recounting advantages and disadvantages of each method. What factors should a local historical society consider when choosing among the alternatives you have proposed?

8. Technology has changed the cataloging processes. Describe how cataloging or indexing has been affected by technology and discuss the new roles of catalogers or indexers.

9. Various types of libraries and archives have established advisory boards. How might such an advisory body be established? What contributions might such boards provide? What problems might they cause? Discuss with examples from various kinds of institutions.

10. Resource sharing is important in modern-day librarianship, particularly in these times of budgetary constraints. Discuss resource sharing making sure to cover the difficulties as well as the advantages associated with it. You may draw examples from a specific type of library or information center.

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