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Comprehensive Examination Questions
July 1994

1. Information retrieval from large computerized databases has become a research frontier of information science. Efficient and effective subject searching in on-line resources takes particular skills and knowledge. What is the requisite knowledge you consider necessary to be an outstanding information retrieval intermediary?

2. Choose a type of library, an information center, or an archive. Select an aspect or a function characteristic of this organization and describe how it would be evaluated. For example, discuss the evaluation of a materials collection in an elementary school library media center, the evaluation of a bibliographic instruction program in an undergraduate library, the evaluation of a summer reading program in a public library, or the cataloging of a newly-acquired special collection in a university library. Why is evaluation essential? What are some of the problems associated with evaluation?

3. The recent availability over the Internet of Fanny Hill: Memoir of a Woman of Pleasure raised concerns over access by children to this erotic classic. Other controversies have arisen over a discussion of the existence of the Holocaust on a Prodigy bulletin board and a reading of the novel Ulysses over the radio. Discuss the issues posed to collection developers by material of all sorts that is not obscene but that is offensive to some library users. What additional issues are posed when the material is available in a non-print format? How should libraries decide about adding such materials to a collection? How should they handle challenges to such materials?

4. Over the past hundred years the Library of Congress has played a significant role in the development of cataloging codes and has influenced American cataloging practices in various ways. Which of LC's contributions will be of continuing importance in the on-line environment? Which will no longer be relevant? Discuss.

5. The U.S. Department of Education has recently published a July 1993 survey showing how the general public evaluates the major roles of the public library. The results are shown below:

Discuss the implications of this survey in terms of the public library's budget, acquisitions, staffing, and public services.

6. In light of advances in technology, information professionals have debated how best to organize information. Some have argued that bibliographic control is no longer necessary if we present the full text of works electronically and the image of pictorial works electronically. Others have argued that bibliographic control is more important now than before. Discuss your position on this issue. Pay special attention to how users and information professionals will be affected by your approach.

7. A resurgence of interest in reader's advisory service was noted recently by Dr. John Richardson, Jr., faculty member of UCLA's School of Library and Information Science, and Mary K. Chelton, nationally known young adult services specialist. In a discussion of reader's advisory service, define your understanding of this concept; account for the renewed interest in this service; consider the impact of this responsibility on current staffing patterns; and note the skills and knowledge required of an effective reader's advisor. In your judgment, is the need for reader's advisory service more acute in serving adults, young adults, or children? Why?

8. Imagine that you have just been appointed to the position of Head, Collection Management. Define and discuss the major functions and areas of responsibility of this position; include some of the established methodologies applicable to carrying out your work effectively. Observing the latest trends in collection management, what are some of the ways in which you will be able to incorporate and utilize computer systems to organize collection management functions? What do you anticipate will be the major challenges of your new position?

9. What are the characteristics of a profession? To what extent does either the library profession, the archival profession, or records management (choose one) adhere to these characteristics? In your discussion, compare the information profession you chose with other professions such as accounting, nursing, law, medicine, or clergy.

10. A recent National Public Radio Marketplace report concluded that librarians were apt to become "Internet Navigators," whose primary service was to help individuals locate and obtain electronic information. Describe the role(s) you anticipate the Internet and "National Information Infrastructure" (NII) will play in libraries of various types over the next 10 years as use of the Internet or NII grows. How will librarians function differently from today?

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