BOOK AND SOFTWARE REVIEWS
Bawden, David and Robinson, Lyn. Introduction to information science. London: Facet Publishing, 2012. xxx, 351 p. ISBN 9781 8560 4810 1. £49.95
It is not very convenient time to have a book coming out in July as most of the academics are on vacation. Coming back from it we are busy with so many things, including getting out a September issue of Information Research. The next opportunity to produce a review on the book issued in July is December issue. Thus in this particular case, I can recommend my colleagues teaching information research to use the book by Bawden and Robinson only now and for those who have not yet found it this is possibly too late to include it into the readings of the next term. Regardless, I give this recommendation hastily at the very beginning and will continue trying to support this recommendation.
First, one should say that a book of the width that is provided in this Introduction is never exhaustive. Each and every chapter can be developed into an introduction and several advanced volumes. But the very attractiveness of this volume lies in the fact that the authors have cast their net wide, rather than going into depth in one or two limited areas. Introduction to information science inevitably has to be wide and one will agree that it is very difficult to add something to this width presented in the book. In this sense it is very exhaustive and the authors have not missed any area of significance of information science (or sciences).
Moreover, each area is presented by reflecting the main contradictions between the ideas, philosophies, understanding, points of view, platforms, changes and problems brought by new social orders, business models, behavioural habits and technologies. Though being the introduction, the book is far from simplistic rendering of unproblematic descriptions of information organization or information society. It reflects the complexity of the discipline as well as of the underlying professional activities, including political and ethical dilemmas, social problems and personal discomfort. The other aspect of this complexity can be glimpsed through the overlaps with other disciplines and sciences, discussed in more general way at the beginning of the book and in more detail in respective chapters.
Each chapter is based on up-to-date material and latest research that, nevertheless, has been proved to by of high quality. The authors not only provide a large number of references, but present key readings that are of classical quality even if most of them are published in this century. Besides, these references, each chapter ends with the main statements of the relevant part and a short summary of the chapter. I also appreciated the six forewords written by six authors from all over the world and an elegant opening page of the first chapter containing sentences formulated by four authoritative figures talking about the essence of information science. The book ends with a list of additional resources, such as other textbooks, reference books, main journals and abstracting services.
To prove that the textbook is truly comprehensive, I list here the titles of the chapters (but without the sub-titles) in the order of appearance in the book: What is information science? History of information, Philosophies and paradigms of information science, Basic concepts of information science, Domain analysis, Information organization, Information technologies, Informetrics, Information behaviour, Communicating information, Information society, Information management and policy, Digital literacy, Information science research, and the future of information science.
In short this is a very useful book for any introductory course for the first year students, that builds an understanding of this wide study, research and practice area that bears the name of Information Science.