October 2006 Comprehensive Exam

CUA School of Library and Information Science


PART 1: Friday, October 14, 2006

Answer two of the following five questions.

In answering questions, discuss professional matters, principles and issues that would apply in a variety of settings. You are expected to discuss one aspect of information work in depth only when questions require you to deal with a specific function or type of library/information agency.

Answers should be supported, whenever possible, with references to the professional literature and/or course content, whether or not this is actually stated in the question.

  • You are the director of a new school library set within an urban school that recently expanded to include 9-12th graders. To serve those students, a separate library was established within the existing school building. The physical environment is adequate. However, the books are discards from a local college library while the majority of your students read below grade level; none of the books and information resources have catalog records or are arranged within the library in a systematic way. As library director, you are expected to create a functioning library as soon as possible. What are your top two goals for the library this school year? Describe some of the tasks involved in achieving these goals.
  • Universities and colleges implement institutional repositories-digital collections that preserve and provide access to the intellectual output of an institutional community. Discuss the variety of decisions librarians need to make in using and creating institutional repositories, and the impact of these repositories.
  • For a library or information services environment of your choosing, describe the impacts of increasing use of mobile technology to access library information on that library service. Discuss how libraries and information services are adapting and should adapt to that trend.
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of embedding librarians in a variety of units within an organization rather than centering the work of the librarian in the information center? For a library or information services environment of your choosing, describe under what circumstances you would recommend such an organizational pattern for information service delivery. How would you assess which approach is best for the organization?
  • Define authority control. Explain its benefits and costs when implemented in a computer-based information storage and retrieval system. Contrast “social tagging” and “folksonomy” with this approach to information management and control.


PART 2: Saturday, October 15, 2006

  • The local school board is responsible for pre-school through community college services. You have been asked to speak to the board about how libraries contribute to student learning, faculty teaching, and a productive school district. What would you say?
  • Critics of new technologies place special value on the physical form of a book or manuscript. Whether the suggested replacement is microform or electronic file, they find such substitutes inferior to the “real thing”. What attributes of a book or manuscript cannot be successfully duplicated in photographic or electronic form? What would your criteria be for deciding which works could be replaced by such copies, and which must be provided in their original form? How does this compare to the issues involved in the preservation in paper format of a “born digital” electronic document or file?
  • A research paper reported on a study of students who performed searches in Google and on a university OPAC. In the words of the report, “… while students were aware of the problems inherent in Web searching and of the many ways in which OPACs are more organized, they generally preferred Web searching… students were able to approach even the drawbacks of the Web – its clutter of irrelevant pages and the dubious authority of the results – in an enthusiastic and proactive manner, very different from the passive and ineffectual admiration they expressed for the OPAC.” What are the implications of this study? How should librarians respond to this finding about user behavior?
  • How does the job of the librarian change as acquisitions decisions evolve from decisions about single books or journals to decisions about electronic collections and databases?
  • Should library policies discuss the options under which federal, state and local law officials can legally access personally identifiable information about patrons? What effect does this access have on the education of which segments of the patron base? Describe the effects in the context of specific demographic groups.
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