Open Journal Systems
World Guide to Special Libraries. 2nd ed. Edited by Bettina Bartz, Ruth Lochar, and Helmut Opitz. Munich: Saur, 1990. 2 vols. 1196 p. (Handbook of International Documentation and Information, 17.) ISBN 3598222300. $325.00.
Increasing interest in international and comparative librarianship ensures a welcome for a new edition of the World Guide to Special Libraries. The previous edition dates from 1984. Saur has an established interest in the field; it also published the World Guide to Libraries, which has proved to be highly accurate.
This directory expresses no selection criteria for the inclusion of libraries. Most of the entries are for special units or departments of large general libraries. Thus the directory is primarily one to subject collections, rather than to independent libraries of special subjects. The information about the libraries is selfgenerated without any indication that it has been independently verified.
The Guide covers 32,500 libraries (there were 32,099 in the first edition). Arrangement is by 1,000 subject headings, subdivided by country. There is an alphabetical index to names of libraries. This arrangement is radically revised from the first edition, which used five very broad categories and subdivided each category by country. Subjects in the present edition range from very narrow such as the name of an individual person to very broad ones like Botany. Broader subjects have voluminous entries, while narrow subjects may have just one or two libraries listed.
Information given about each library is very thorough. The name of the library and parent institution are included and translated as necessary. Street address, phone, telex, fax, and telegram numbers are listed. Director or head of the library is named. The description of the library covers the year founded, important holdings and special collections, special departments and divisions, and basic statistics on holdings (bound volumes, current subscriptions, manuscripts, codices and incunabula, audiovisual materials, and miscellaneous items). Access programs and membership in professional organizations are covered. No budget figures are given. Appendix features in the second volume are a list of library organizations and a list of abbreviations.
The only serious flaws are in access points and loose criteria for inclusion. The reader looking for a collection on a topic may not find it, although it is in the Guide. For example, the major research collection for the study of phenomenologist Edmund Husserl is the Husserl Archives at the University of Cologne (duplicated at the New School for Social Research in New York City). This collection is listed in the Guide only under the entry for Edmund Husserl. There is no index entry for Husserl Archives and no subject crossreference for phenomenology. Philosophers seeking access to special libraries in phenomenology would expect to find such a topic in a directory like this one, since phenomenology is a major philosophical movement of the 20th century.
Arrangement by subject decreases the usefulness of the Guide for the user who wishes to see all the libraries of single country. Country names appear as subjects, but countries as entities are not indexed.
Without clear criteria for inclusion, the Guide offers some curious listings. Under the heading Developing Countries, for example, subdivision for the United States, there are just seven libraries identified. Only one is an academic library: University of Michigan; its specialization is said to be Africa. But under the heading African Studies, subdivision for the United States, the University of Michigan is not included. (Many significant Africana collections are overlooked in this brief inventory of nine United States libraries, e.g., the one at Northwestern University.)
Library science collections are described with similar imbalance. Only 17 Third World nations are included, and the library choices are uneven. For the United States, 23 institutions are presented under Library Science. Many of the principal collections are missing, and some of the inclusions are questionable.
Despite these problems with the Guide, it does present important information not readily found elsewhere, and it is useful as a companion to the World Guide to Libraries.
Inez Ringland is Director of the Library and a Lecturer in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Rosary College. Her library master’s degree is from Rosary College, and her Ph.D. (in philosophy) is from DePaul University. She has published in Catholic Library World and Choice. Her professional interests include business and humanities reference service and academic library administration.
© 1992 Rosary College