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.
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Unfortunately, due to the nature of a printed book, some of the sources are possibly outdated, as well as the database format examples.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.
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.