To find out a method to select important monographs and textbooks in library and information science from current publications, 1,771 book reviews for 1,183 books (about 1.5 reviews per book), appeared in 12 periodicals for the years of 1978, 1979, and 1980, were examined.
The periodicals used for this study were; Journal of the American Society for Information Science, Journal of Documentation, Information Processing and Management, Aslib Proceedings, Special Libraries, Journal of Libraries, Library Automation, Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, College and Research Libraries, Library Quarterly, Library Journal, Library Association Record, and Unesco Journal of Information Science, Librarianship, and Archives Administration. Some of these titles were selected by the citation counting method applied to Annual Review of Information Science and Technology and Advances in Librarianship. Others were selected by the same method applied to the top-ranking journals obtained in this primary selection.
All the book reviews in these periodicals for the period were examined, recorded, and classified into 13 ranks, such as 1, 1+, -2, 2, 2+, …, -5, 5. Here, 1 denotes “a very poor book, you should not buy”; 2 denotes “a book you better not bu”; 3 is for “a book that was neither good nor ba”; 4 is for “better bu”; 5 is for “must bu”; + or - attached to them indicates a slant toward either better or poorer respectively.
A list of 48 books, that were reviewed more than 4 times, was compiled. This includes a book by F. W. Lancaster that was reviewed in 9 different periodicals. The book was followed by another book of same author and a book written by M. S. Martin. Both of them had been reviewed 7 times. Then, there were four titles with 6 reviews, 11 with 5 reviews, and 30 with 4 reviews.
While, the average points of all 1,183 books was 2.32, that of these 48 books was 2.68. That is slightly better than the average. However, 19 of them had lower points than this average.
Another additional list of 19 titles, that were reviewed 3 times and received higher than 4.00 point, was also compiled.
Almost all of these 67 titles were listed in more than one of the following three selective lists of books and book reviews. They were, 1) “the Librarian's Bookshel” of the Bowker Annual of Library and Book Trade Information; 2) American Reference Books Annual; and 3) “the JAL guide to New Books and Book Review” of Journal of Academic Librarianship.
The present study found out that there were books that drew special attention of many people and were reviewed in many periodicals in the profession. However, all of these titles were not necessarily given favorable reviews. The works published many times as revised editions were also not necessarily given favorable reviews. But both, publishers and authors were found to be some reliable clue in judging the quality of books.
© 1981 三田図書館・情報学会© 1981 Mita Society for Library and Information Science
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