The Oxford guide to library research

by Thomas Mann

Paperback, 2005




New York : Oxford University Press, c2005


Through clear explanations of nine fundamental methods of searching, Thomas Mann provides an overview of little-known but powerful strategies used by librarians and information specialists. Enlivening his advice throughout with real-world examples, Mann explains how to take advantage of controlled vocabularies, browse library shelves systematically, construct keyword searches, use published bibliographies, and even make personal contacts with knowledgeable people.Against the trendy but mistaken assumption that "everything" can be found on the Internet, Mann asserts the lasting value of physical libraries and time-tested research strategies, while acknowledging the complementary applications of computer technology. All formats including books, journals, newspapers, microforms, audiovisual materials, primary documents, bibliographic databases, and digital libraries on the World Wide Web are considered for their unique advantages, as well as for their limitations. Required reading for students, scholars, information-seeking professionals, and laypersons.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member sarahdeanjean
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.
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LibraryThing member kylenapoli
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).
LibraryThing member kaelirenee
Written more as a guide for students needing to learn how to use a library rather than for librarians. However, it needs to be updated to be of use.
LibraryThing member sharon.shafer
Practical book gives an overview of how to do research in a library. It can make a reference librarian out of anyone.
LibraryThing member degross
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!
LibraryThing member flemmily
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.
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LibraryThing member SGJ
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



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