Introduction to information science - By David Bawden and Lyn Robinson

Abstract

Introduction to Information Science by David Bawden and Lyn Robinson is meant to be a textbook that introduces and places in context “all the important topics within the information science discipline” (p. xiii). Like so many other information science texts published over the years, this one does not accomplish its self-proclaimed mission in the entirety but its contributions nonetheless will be of value to students and general readers in the information professions. Instead of the usual foreword by a single accomplished expert, this book has six of them. Highly regarded information science educators affiliated with institutions in five countries offer perspectives on the field, the important questions and challenges facing it, and its future prospects. The compelling essays are by Theresa Dirndorfer Anderson (Australia), Andrew Dillon and Jonathon Furner (USA), Birger Hjørland (Denmark), Fidelia Ibekwe-SanJuan (France), and Maja Žumer (Slovenia), and although they represent differing points of view, the forewords provide an integrative segue to the book. The textbook proper is comprised of 15 chapters, most between 15 and 25 pages. The authors suggest two to four thoughtfully selected and briefly described “key readings” at the end of each chapter. An extensive reference list follows the “key readings” for each chapter; some reference lists run six pages long. The chapters have varying degrees of depth and detail, with organization of information (chapter 6), information science research (chapter 14), information technologies (chapter 7), and information management and policy (chapter 12) providing the most material. Chapters 7 and 12 also offer the reader the greatest number of bibliographic references. Text boxes throughout the chapters appear to serve two purposes. First, they underscore main points in the text (e.g., defining terms and summarizing important concepts). Second, the boxes provide a convenient and consistent format for including lists and tables that are from the work of others or that simplify complex subject matter to increase the reader’s understanding. For example, Hjørland’s “aspects of domain analysis” are summarized (p. 94), Brown’s principles of information architecture are listed and described (p. 144), and types of “identifiable” search strategies are noted and explained (p. 153). The text boxes in some respects compete for the reader’s attention with figures found throughout the work. There are 30 figures, comprised of the expected photographs of notable people and things, but also illustrations of models, lists, and even a screenshot from a search of an online public access catalog (p. 152). The models and lists are drawn from sources that are fully credited, but one wonders why the text boxes described earlier were not included among the figures and thus given visibility in the List of Figures (p. xi) or, conversely, why there were not simply 30 additional boxes inserted throughout the text. Chapter 1 introduces the notion of information science as a discipline and a profession. In 13 pages, the authors argue for a “field of study, with human recorded information as its concern, focusing on the components of the human communication chain, studied through the perspective of domain analysis” (p. 4). After offering this perspective, the chapter goes on to introduce the fields with which information science overlaps, the “big questions” for the field, major scholarly and professional associations, and publications, concluding with a brief discussion of professional education. Chapter 2 gives a very brief history “of information,” with a decided focus on documents and their roles from prehistory to the present. This is in keeping with the focus promised in chapter 1: human recorded information as the overarching concern of the book. Chapter 3 will be among the most helpful to students and those just discovering information science as a field of study. Entitled “Philosophies and Paradigms of Information Science,” this chapter introduces some theoretical influences from philosophy, with the expected emphasis on epistemology. A table (whose inclusion of selected works that incorporate the theories and concepts of the philosophers into information science could be more clearly organized) illustrates the relationship between philosophers such as Bourdieu, Foucault, Wittgenstein, and others (pp. 48–49) with the field of information science. Major library and information science figures whose works are central to the field also are introduced in the chapter: Jesse Shera, Luciano Floridi, Bertie Brookes, and Carl Popper receive good coverage, and the reference list provides direction to both philosophers’ and information scientists’ works. Chapter 4, “Basic Concepts of Information Science,” introduces the traditional data-to-wisdom hierarchy, Shannon’s theory of communication, and the concepts of documents, relevance, collections, and use and users of © 2013 ASIS&T

DOI: 10.1002/asi.22885

Cite this paper

@article{Aversa2013IntroductionTI, title={Introduction to information science - By David Bawden and Lyn Robinson}, author={Elizabeth Aversa}, journal={JASIST}, year={2013}, volume={64}, pages={1081-1083} }