Open Journal Systems

World Libraries | Volume 7 | Number 1 | Khurshid

Book Reviews

World Librarianship: An International and Comparative Dimension: An Annotated Bibliography, 1976–1992. By A.M. Abdul Huq, Dhaka: Academic Press, [1995]. 416 p. ISBN 984–08–0134–1. Distributed by Nafco Systems International, Box 2683, Merrifield, Virginia, 22116.

This comprehensive review and summation of literature on international and comparative librarianship, published in the form of books (or chapters thereof), encyclopedia articles, part publications, or report publications, updates the earlier publication, Librarianship and the Third World: An Annotated Bibliography of Selected Literature on Developing Nations, 1960–1975, by the author of the book under review but in collaboration with Mohammed M. Aman (New York: Garland, 1977).

The 1977 publication covered literature of an important developmental period in the globalization of library and information services. It included 1,475 selected writings from library literature, almost double the number of entries in the present volume. But descriptive and critical annotations, along with cross references and notes about important information not covered in the texts, have made the present volume larger than the earlier one. It contains 43 more pages, but only 779 bibliographic entries.

Although the title implies that coverage is confined to a period from 1976 to 1992, there are references to earlier as well as later publications which help to offer a fuller perspective of landmark and trend–setting developments. Among such publications are Wilhelm Munthe’s American Librarianship from an European Angle (1964) and the Encyclopedia of Library History (1994).

The identification and selection of the materials out of a bulk of diverse, scattered, and vastly fragmented English–language literature on the subject was painstakingly done over a period of 2 1/2 years. All of the important source materials on the subject were searched, as were the leading journals in the field. By looking into titles cited in the Bibliography one finds a number of journals not covered by the standard abstracting and indexing library tools—journals hard to locate even in the markets of their origin, e.g. the Pakistan Library Association Journal. The author also searched OCLC and the library school catalogs of the Universities of Pittsburgh and St. John’s. The former library school catalog includes its comprehensive International Library Information Center (ILIC) collection. Thus “well organized research and searching analysis and scholarship,” as pointed out by Sir Devendra P. Varma in his Foreword, have gone into making this Bibliography an indispensible reference tool in international and comparative librarianship for teachers, students, and others interested in the subject.

The wealth of information in this publication begins with the definition, genesis, scope, and prospects of comparative, international, and world librarianship. This is directed at avoiding the confusion about these terms which exists in the literature. Then comes annotations of twenty–two materials on the subject, arranged chronologically, beginning with Louis Shore’s paper on “Comparative Librarianship” in Comparative and International Librarianship, edited by Miles M. Jackson (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1970).

The main part of the book consists of its second part, the Bibliography, divided into eight sections. Included herein are 757 entries with annotations as long as 1 1/2 pages and as short as three lines. The annotations are readable and are sometimes supplemented by additional information drawn from outside texts.

The second section of the Bibliography (“The World, Developing Countries: Trend in International Librarianship”) speaks to the main purpose of the book. This section includes 125 entries, more than half of which are devoted to library education and professional organizations and associations. IFLA has twelve entries. That the “Developing World” received just over one–third of the entries under “World Librarianship” shows global concern about developing countries, with particular reference to Third World countries. The remaining six sections cover countries or regions, and include maps and brief background notes. The areas which receive the most coverage are sub–Saharan Africa, the Middle East, North America, and Europe. The countries most fully represented are the United States, United Kingdom, India, Russia, Nigeria, and Canada.

Quotations, sayings, and verses have been dotted tastefully throughout various sections of the book in keeping with the subjects dealt with therein. The author–and–title index at the end makes the book easily usable.

“The library profession is international,” as S.R. Ranganathan said. The global base of librarianship is widely dispersed and fragmented, and some Third World countries are just “bibliographic wasteland,” as W. Eric Gustafson put it. There are, therefore, some omissions in this book, despite the author’s painstaking research. For instance, the Gulf States are not represented. Librarianship in the Muslim World, 1984, vol. 2 (Karachi: ISLIC, Library and Information Science Department, University of Karachi, 1984) and Bibliographic Services Throughout the World: Supplement 1981–1982, by Marcelle Beaudiquez (Paris: General Information Programme and UNISIST, 1985), are two books which could provide some information on this region. The Congress of Muslim Librarians and Information Scientists held three Congresses through 1989 and published some proceedings. They might also be helpful in this direction.

But these omissions do not derogate from this book’s position as an indispensible reference tool for library schools and university research libraries.

About the author

Anis Khurshid is Professor of Library Science, University of Karachi.

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