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The Oxford Guide to Library Research by…
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The Oxford Guide to Library Research

by Thomas Mann

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I have a little librarian crush on Thomas Mann.

He is excellent at communicating the logic of his ideas. He presents a wonderful overview of research methods. To some extent he may be considered a traditionalist. But he makes a well-reasoned case for understanding and using a variety of search methods.

This guide does get a little list-y, as most reference how-to books do. However, even when these resources become outdated, the methods and principles will remain applicable. ( )
  flemmily | Aug 18, 2010 |
Mann’s Oxford Guide to Library Research is a comprehensive and practical guide for all levels of research and researchers. The guide is based on Mann’s experience working with patrons and materials during his years as a librarian and as a private investigator. His goal is to give readers the tools to experience all levels in the hierarchy of learning (data, information, opinion, knowledge, and understanding), and ultimately to help them achieve a greater wisdom through research. He does this by exploring material types (encyclopedias, for example), explaining how to use subject headings properly, how to browse, how to use indexes, how to properly search by keyword, and so on until it seems that all of the tricks available to researchers have been exhausted.
Mann emphasizes the importance of in-depth searching. He often argues that basic internet searches are inefficient. The common misconception that “everything” is on the internet is debunked by many of the real life examples he sites in the book, including the example on lighthouse libraries, which the author was only able to find successfully after he physically leafed through a few books. Although these examples are very helpful for the reader, one cannot help but sense the author’s frustration (and judgment) when dealing with uninformed researchers. Despite the intimidating tone, this work goes a long way in turning the uninformed into the informed. In each chapter Mann lists dozens of potential resources from the Thesaurus of ERIC Descriptors to Wilson’s Library Literature to the Columbia Journalism Review Inflation Calendar .
Unfortunately, due to the nature of a printed book, some of the sources are possibly outdated, as well as the database format examples. But the spirit of the author’s intention, to teach people how to use these databases and where to find certain resources, should enable readers to follow along and still be able to find the suggested resources. Finally, the appendix on “Wisdom” seems out of place. Although it is interesting to read the author’s thoughts on the final level of the hierarchy of learning, the appendix seems tangential to an otherwise great resource for researchers of all levels. ( )
2 vote sarahdeanjean | Aug 19, 2009 |
Excellent. The chapters on encyclopedias and bibliographies are worth the price of the book. I am reading a library copy now, but have ordered a used one from Amazon.com ( )
  SGJ | Jun 22, 2009 |
An excellent book on searching in libraries (online and offline). It is extremely thorough with very many great tips and references. Also, it well written and easy to read. I had it for my Online Searching class in library school and everyone loved reading it!
  degross | Oct 5, 2008 |
I cannot say enough about how well-written and informative Mann's text is. I don't know how I got through high school, much less college and a required senior thesis, without this book (except that it hadn't been published yet). ( )
  kylenapoli | Apr 1, 2008 |
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The best way to start many inquiries is to see if someone has already written an overview article outlining the most important facts in the subject and providing a concise list of recommended readings.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0195189981, Paperback)

With all of the new developments in information storage and retrieval, researchers today need a clear and comprehensive overview of the full range of their options, both online and offline, for finding the best information quickly. In this third edition of The Oxford Guide to Library Research, Thomas Mann maps out an array not just of important databases and print sources, but of several specific search techniques that can be applied profitably in any area of research. From academic resources to government documents to manuscripts in archives to business Web sites, Mann shows readers how best to exploit controlled subject headings, explains why browsing library shelves is still important in an online age, demonstrates how citation searching and related record searching produce results far beyond keyword inquiries, and offers practical tips on making personal contacts with knowledgeable people. Against the trendy but mistaken assumption that "everything" can be found on the Internet, Mann shows the lasting value of physical libraries and the unexpected power of traditional search mechanisms, while also providing the best overview of the new capabilities of computer indexing.

Throughout the book Mann enlivens his advice with real-world examples derived from his experience of having helped thousands of researchers, with interests in all subjects areas, over a quarter century. Along the way he provides striking demonstrations and powerful arguments against those theorists who have mistakenly announced the demise of print.

Essential reading for students, scholars, professional researchers, and laypersons, The Oxford Guide to Library Research offers a rich, inclusive overview of the information field, one that can save researchers countless hours of frustration in the search for the best sources on their topics.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:36:21 -0400)

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Outlines several resources and search strategies for researchers, including encyclopedias, subject headings, library catalogs, browsing, keyword searches, citation searches, and published bibliographies.

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