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Library Services in Theory and Context

Chapter 5: What Sort of Theory?

As the next step, we pause to consider what sort of theory would be appropriate when considering library services. After all, if one were to have a mistaken expectation as to the sort of theory, one might fail to recognize it. Ideally, one should seek to reduce the number of preconceived notions about the sorts of theory we might find or develop. Two considerations should encourage us to take a broad view:

  1. Ideally, one should be open-minded and objective in analysis. However, each human being has particular values, experiences, and frames of reference and there seems to be no reason to believe that open-mindedness and objectivity are fully attainable. We may be more narrowly oriented that we realize.

  2. Knowledge concerning library services is commonly referred to as library science and symptoms can be found of a desire for it to be scientific. Yet, at the same time, there is little evidence that it is or can be "scientific" in the ordinary usage of the term which implies characteristics of the physical sciences as opposed to those of the social sciences or of the humanities. As Aristotle observed, "It is a mark of the educated man and a proof of his culture that in every subject he looks for only so much precision as its nature permits." 1

There have been recurring complaints that knowledge concerning library services "lacks theory." A favorite quotation with those who wish to complain is a statement written by Pierce Butler and published in 1933:

Unlike his colleagues in other fields of social activity the librarian is strangely uninterested in the theoretical aspects of his profession. He seems to possess a unique immunity to that curiosity which elsewhere drives modern man to attempt, somehow, an orientation of his particular labors with the main stream of human life. The librarian apparently stands alone in the simplicity of his pragmatism: a rationalization of each immediate technical process by itself seems to satisfy his intellectual interest. 2

When this passage is quoted, there's rarely any discussion of whether or lot there might have been any progress in the development of theoretical understanding of librarianship since 1933—nor is there, typically, any discussion of the sorts of theory which could be expected with respect to library services. At the very least, it would seem reasonable to explore plausible definitions of "theory" in this context. We might find that the sorts of theory desired are inherently impossible; or we might find that, of the sort which are feasible, there is more evidence than has been generally realized.

Theory defined

Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged offers a series of definitions for the varying usages of the word theory. 3 Of these, one appears to be particularly meaningful in the context of library services:

3.a.(I) The body of generalizations and principles developed in association with practice in a field of activity (as medicine, music) and forming its content as an intellectual discipline.

A closely related definition would seem somewhat applicable, although more directly to the study of library services than to practice:

3.1.(2) The coherent set of hypothetical, conceptual, and pragmatic principles forming the general frame of reference for a field of inquiry (as for deducing principles, formulating hypotheses, undertaking action).

Other definitions provided (e.g., "a judgment," "an unproved assumption," "a systematic analysis") can clearly be used in relation to library services, but the first definition quoted above (3.a.(I)) would seem to fit best in the phrase "theory of library service" and it is the one we shall use for present purposes. It may be noted that one other definition, which we do not adopt here, will be considered later when discussing philosophy, i.e., "2.a. A belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as basis for action: a principle or plan of action."

In the next section, we will briefly enumerate examples of notions in librarianship that would appear to meet the criterion of fitting the above definitions. After that, we consider some aspects of the theory of library service and consider how they relate to theories of other fields. The Oxford Dictionary offers two definitions in this sense: 4

4. A scheme or system of ideas or statements held as an explanation or account of a group of facts or phenomena; a hypothesis that has been confirmed or established by observation or experiment, and is propounded or accepted as accounting for the known facts: a statement of what are held to be general laws, principles, or causes of something known or observed.

4.b. That department of an art or technical subject which consists in the knowledge or statement of the facts on which it depends, or of its principles or methods as distinguished from the practice of it.

It is emphasized that we are concerned with theory in the broad sense of an understanding or explanation of the nature of things, not in the restricted sense, used in formal and physical sciences, of fundamental laws rigorously testable by empirical evidence.

Examples of theory

In this section, we consider briefly some arbitrarily selected examples of notions which would appear to fit either or both of the Webster definitions of "theory" cited above. We will, for convenience, follow our previous breakdown of Inquiry, Retrieval, Becoming Informed, Demand, and Allocation.

With respect to inquiry, we find that the higher the level of formal education the higher the propensity to inquire after specific documents and the lower the propensity to make "subject inquiries" in a library. 5

The area of retrieval—including indexing, classification, and the evaluation of retrieval performance—depends heavily on notions of "aboutness," "relevance," "recall," "precision," and "utility" and the relationships between them. Indexing itself depends on logic and linguistics (semantics, syntax, and pragmatics), and for imposing control on indexing (vocabulary control, classification scheme construction, and the syndetic structure of catalogs) set theory, hierarchical structures, and facet analysis. For the actual construction of indexes, technology is needed, especially but not only when computers are used. This depends on the understanding of what alternative technological devices can do and on management tools such as cost analysis and cost effectiveness. 6

The process of becoming informed is characterized by notions of what is likely to be understood by the people to be served, what ancillary services might facilitate this, and what the limitations of the service are with respect to fostering beneficial knowledge and/or diminishing harmful ignorance. Much of this is largely implicit as in the development of "appropriate" collections of documents and ancillary aids such as dictionaries. Other aspects have been made more explicit in writings on library service in relation to "social epistemology" and "public knowledge." 7

The demand for library services has a substantial literature based mainly on surveys of use (which is not the same as the demand) and focusing mainly on how things are at a given point in time rather than on the dynamics of demand (which would be more useful). 8 These more tractable aspects yield consistently reported findings which can and sometimes do form the basis for planning. The more quantitative analysis of the logistics of document delivery derive in part from theoretical notions derived from operations research. 9

The politics of allocation of resources and priorities to and within library resources is reflected in conclusions and exhortations in the literature on library management. More formally, concepts drawn more or less directly from welfare economics are used to explain and justify the noncommercial nature of libraries. 10 Here, we are concerned with theory used for analysis and comprehension. The choice of social values implicit in advocating the adoption of specific allocations of resources will be discussed subsequently in relation to the philosophy of librarianship. Concepts used to describe political and managerial activities in relation to library services are largely derived from the literatures of management and the study of organizations. 11

Structure as theory

Some of what will be described has to do with the description of "structure," i.e., how things relate to each other. For example, mathematical theories of bibliographical obsolescence are descriptions of document usage in relation to time. In an important philosophical sense, the description of structure is theory, in that structure is, by definition, the relationship between things; and theory can only be expressed in terms of the relationships between things. Material on structural relationships in library service constitutes an important part of "the body of generalizations and principles developed in association with practice."

It should be noted that an empirically found structure can be examined theoretically without any theory as to why it occurs. This happened with Zipf. His empirically found "Zipf's law" of patterns in the distribution of various social behaviors has found widespread acceptance. His elaborate explanation of why this pattern is found—his "principle of least effort"—has not found acceptance. 12

Good theory, useful theory, provisional theory

So far, we have not considered the notion of "goodness" of theory. The view implicitly adopted throughout can be summarized as follows: Theories are, by definition, mental constructs. They may be expressed in written and graphical form. They may well inspire and guide practical achievements of a concrete form. Yet a theory remains a mental construct. A "good" theory is one which matches well our perception of the objects that the theory is about. The closer the match the better the theory. It is to be remembered that the matching is with our perception of the objects. This explains why a theory can seem perfectly adequate in relation to what is known, but then has to be rejected as "bad" when more has been learned. This change from "good" to "bad" can happen when either of two things happens: (1) another mental construct—another theory—is developed which "fits" even better the perceptions of the objects regarded as relevant; or (2) additional objects are discovered such that the perceptions of these new objects are incompatible with the original theory. Even if the additional objects have been inaccurately perceived, the theory will cease to be regarded as a "good" theory and efforts can be expected to develop a better theory. Of course, it could happen that the additional objects had been wrongly perceived and that, with a later revised view of these objects, the original theory might be reaffirmed as being good after all. Goodness of theory, then, is not a moral attribute but a matter of closeness of match between the mental construct and the perception of entities to which the theory pertains.

A theory can be useful insofar as it serves to assist and guide the development of further understanding (whether formalized as "theory" or not) and/or of practical activities. Yet, theory should always be regarded as provisional. This is necessary because it is always possible that mental effort might result in a new or revised theory which would match the perceptions of relevant objects even better and because perceptions of relevant objects are likely to change. New objects may be discovered. The perceived relevance of old or new objects may change. Each of these cases means that the theory must now match something different and that the closeness of match—the goodness of theory—must be reassessed.

The consequence of all this is that every theory should be regarded as strictly provisional—and as a challenge not only to our mental powers to develop better theories which might match our perceptions much better, but also to the accuracy and extent of our powers of perception of relevant objects. The so-called "scientific method" is precisely this: a systematic two-pronged assault on theory intended to supersede good provisional theories with better provisional theories. On the one hand, the formulation of a hypothesis is, in effect, the drafting of potentially better theory. On the other hand, scientific experiments are systematic attempts to perceive relevant objects which the theory cannot fit or match. In this way, scientific knowledge is corrected and the theoretical frameworks (the "paradigms" of science as described and popularized by Kuhn) 13 are overthrown. In fields of study which do not deal with observable objects, the challenge must come by persuasion, for example, by the demonstration of conceptual inconsistencies, as in philosophy. Nevertheless, the approach and process are basically the same.

It follows from all this that, insofar as theory can assist understanding and guide practice, the most useful consequence of this book would be for it to be promptly superseded by new, better theory and by fuller perceptions of relevant aspects of library services and of their users. Even the most favorable view of this book, then, could only be that it is a tentative, provisional statement to be rendered obsolete as soon as possible.

Unique to and characteristic of

In discussion of theory in relation to library services, the assumption appears to have been, either explicitly or implicitly, that the theory ought to be unique to librarianship (e.g., Houser and Schrader). 14 This constraint would seem to be both unnecessary and contrary to the available evidence. Library services must surely be unique in the sense that the phrase denotes a particular set of activities in a particular set of contexts. The combination of notions pertaining to this particular set of activities in these particular contexts may well be unique as a combination of notions. However, even if we assume that the combination of notions is unique, it does not necessarily follow that any single notion is unique to library service, only that no other activity will be characterized by the identical combination. Individual aspects of what happens in libraries in general can be found to have characteristics which also characterize one or more activities outside of libraries. It is to be expected, therefore, that analysis of the theory which is pertinent to a non-library context will be more or less pertinent also in the library context and vice-versa. A sensible approach would seem to be to welcome the practical consequence of these common characteristics and not to regret a sense of diminished uniqueness. In this regard, uniqueness may be flattering to the sense of self-esteem of a librarian, but would also appear to be counterproductive for practical purposes of getting on with the development of the theory and the practice of library service.

The relationship between notions in library service and comparable notions outside of library services is not necessarily straightforward.

  1. The notion may be distinctive to library service only in its specific application. For example, in analytical cost studies of library services wherein the attempt is made to ascertain how much of the cost of a service can properly be attributed to one objective (e.g., support of research) rather than another (e.g., support of teaching), concepts and techniques are used which are proper for this aspect of librarianship but also happen to be entirely standard and characteristic for cost analysis in other contexts than libraries: cost centers, overhead, and accounting principles concerning the attribution of cost. However, the detailed problem of attributing the cost of books and journals to and between cost centers would appear to be a problem unique to libraries and the accounting principles adapted for it would seem to be unique to librarianship for that reason.
  2. Notions developed outside librarianship may be incomplete. Particular manifestations of theory concerning library services may be different from other fields in which theory may have been unevenly developed. The incompleteness may be significant when it comes to the use of that area of theory in librarianship. One might speculate that this is the case with theories of linguistic ambiguity, where it has been suggested that "referential'' approaches are fine for the philosophers who developed them and that "structural" approaches are fine for linguists interested in sentences, but that new and different approaches with respect to vagueness in the definition of entities and with respect to the pragmatics of actual and artificial languages are needed both for a fuller development of linguistic theory and, more to the point, for the effective use of linguistic theories in information retrieval. 15
  3. A notion may originate as unique to library services and spread to other fields. Bibliometrics, in the sense of the quantitative analysis of bibliographic citations, was developed largely in the context of librarianship. Bradford was concerned with the completeness of bibliographies; 16 Garfield developed citation indexing as a complement to subject indexing; 17 and others have examined the growth and obsolescence of literatures. Subsequently, the quantitative analysis of bibliographical citations has become a major tool used in studies of the sociology of knowledge. The underlying notions are common to both sorts of uses
  4. Apparently common notions may be misleading. In the economic analysis of commercial enterprises, the price mechanism is dominant. The existence of monetary prices payable by the user forces a continuous reevaluation by users of the services or goods being offered. The dependence on these payments by users as the supplier's source of income forces the supplier to be responsive to market pressures. It has even been argued that library services ought to introduce monetary charges in order to ,make library services more responsive. 18 While it is probably correct Ihat introducing charges would engender a sharper responsiveness to market pressure, the assumption that theory characteristic of the economics of commercial situations should also be regarded as characteristic of libraries' services is vulnerable to criticism on two grounds: (1) introducing monetary charges, while possibly beneficial in some regards, would also interfere seriously with the purposes for which libraries exist (either by distorting usage relative to the funders' intentions or by diverting resources into administering the accounting) and (2) the arguments for the introduction of monetary charges in order to effect responsiveness fail to take into account nonmonetary aspects of price and the existence of presently available (and, perhaps, underutilized) mechanisms for responsiveness. (Further discussion can be seen in chapter 10.)

Whether or not one concludes that monetary charges for library services would be a good idea, there are grounds for asserting that notions drawn from the economics of commerce should not be regarded as directly transferable to the library context. This does not, however, preclude the possibility that a more general theory could not be developed to include both.

What is shared theory?

What, one might ask, is signified by the assertion that theory characteristic of an aspect of librarianship is also characteristic of some other field? There would appear to be two answers to this—one mild, one stronger.

A mild response would be that theory pertaining to, say, retrieval processes in libraries, resembles the theory pertaining to retrieval processes in, say, engineering documentation or machine translation. This is not a strong assertion though it may well be helpful, since one can systematically set out to look for parallels and analogs. A theory or a practice in the one context might well be transferable (with some adaptation) to another. Even though resemblance may seem to be a mild degree of sharing, recognition of it could be quite powerful in its practical consequences. One can systematically examine the features of one and explore their applicability to the other.

A stronger response would be that there is a commonality of theory. For example, one might assert that the theory of library retrieval processes is also the theory of machine translation. Yet, this is untenable since it implies complete identity and the one would have to be a synonym of the other. Theory deals with mental constructs of a set of perceived objects and, if the two sets of perceived objects are not identical, the theory should not be regarded as identical. "Machine translation" is not coterminous with "retrieval processes in libraries." Complete commonality, then, is not possible. Nevertheless, this does leave scope for partial coincidence or commonality. For example, one might assert that retrieval processes in libraries are basically linguistic processes. One might further explicate this by asserting that, since retrieval processes are linguistic or quasilinguistic processes, some (or all) of the theory of information processes can also be considered part of the theory of linguistics. Alternatively, one might assert that, at some level of abstraction, a common theory is applicable to both. To make such assertions, a critical assumption is necessary: that the matter to be theorized about does not have to be viewed as pertaining only to one broader area. In other words, library automation does not have to be viewed as either an area of librarianship or an area of computer studies. Instead, any area can be viewed as being a part of two or more larger fields simultaneously. If, therefore, we were to assert that the allocation of resources to and within library services is a political process, then the implication that this process can be viewed as a part of the field of politics does not prevent us from continuing to view the process as also being a part of library service. By the same token, library automation can be regarded simultaneously as a part of the field of computing and also a part of the field of library service. Similarly, asserting that retrieval processes in libraries are basically linguistic processes would imply that the study of retrieval processes in libraries can be viewed as part of the field of linguistics without requiring that we cease to view them as part of library science. Of course, there may not be agreement as to whether a particular topic should be regarded as constituting the partial coinciding of two particular fields.

In this book, frequent reference is made to aspects of library services as also being "characteristic" of other fields or as being "related to" other fields. At the very least, this implies resemblance. If the relationships asserted in this book cannot be accepted even at the level of resemblances, then little has been achieved. Acceptance of a degree of resemblance in most of the relationships posited would seem to be a necessary and sufficient requirement for the conceptual relationships proposed to constitute a meaningful theoretical framework. However, even though it may not be strictly necessary for acceptance of the principal arguments, we do also assert the stronger relationship of partial coincidence in several important areas.

Several consequences would seem to follow any accepted claim to partial coincidence: It may well be important to relax some of the ingrained attitudes derived from territoriality of academic disciplines which develop in spite of the original meaning of the name "university." If, for example, the allocation of resources to and within library services is viewed not merely as "resembling" political processes but also as being an area "common" to both the fields of political science and library service , then some practical consequences follow. It is implied that good theory should be viewed as part of the literature of both political science and librarianship. An effective analyst of this topic could, in principle, approach it from a disciplinary background in librarianship or in political science. Once developed, a truly persuasive theory can be expected to be regarded as good by the rest of both fields.

However, some difficulties can be expected over and beyond the human jealousies which academic and disciplinary territoriality can engender. If the commonality has not previously been widely recognized or if the two fields have already developed separate technical vocabularies and/or different (provisional) theories, then the development of mutually acceptable theory is likely to be difficult. No discipline or field is ever fully developed and it could happen that prevailing theory in one or both may be insufficiently developed with regard to special features in the area of commonality. Indeed, if that were not the case, this book (or something like it) would probably have been written years ago. It is not only, therefore, that commonality may not have been recognized. The area of coincidence could conceivably be a relatively undeveloped area.

If the assertion of partial coincidence in theory is accepted, then more and better tools may be at hand than have been recognized and critical analysis in a more collaborative mode is indicated.

General comments on theory in library services

Certain general conclusions concerning the "theory of library services" would seem to follow from this discussion.

While the overall combination of theory may be unique to librarianship, there appears to be no reason to expect that particular theoretical notions are unique to library services. As a practical matter, it would seem advantageous to share notions characteristic of libraries with other fields in which they are also characteristic. The rationale is that progress in theoretical understanding is more likely to occur if more and different sorts of people are working at it. Further, theories are better tested from two perspectives than from one. The desire for theory unique to library service may stem from a human desire for the status which comes from being distinctively different. The continued expectation of unique theory may have been prolonged by the isolation of librarians understandably preoccupied with library services.

Much of library service has to do with human activities: it is labor-intensive in nature; it is concerned with service to people; and evaluation needs to deal with relatively undefinable aspects of human behavior. There is, therefore, difficulty in achieving definitions. The field is inherently and, one supposes, inescapably a "soft" field in terms of definability. 19

A good deal of "the body of generalizations and principles developed in association with practice" is implicitly understood by those providing library services. That is to say, much of what is known has not been formally explicated and presented as "theory." There would appear to be a great deal of work to be done in eliciting, explicating, and revising what is implicitly known or not yet consciously thought out. It would appear to be a difficult field for would-be theorists. Exploring characteristics which are shared with other fields may very well be a fruitful—though difficult—strategy.

The sorts of theory which we have used as examples above are not very fashionable in terms of the social respectability of hard sciences especially since World War II. Definition is difficult. Quantification is even more so. 20 It would seem to be necessary to accept the conclusion that library science is not a hard science. Investigators who yearn for the respectability of a hard science will have to restrict themselves to some relatively quantifiable part of it, or, if that is unacceptable, abandon the study of library science for some other field which is. To do that, it would seem necessary to move altogether outside of retrieval-based information services for people to use.

A final paradox

Much of this chapter has been concerned with arguing that each of the various parts of the theory of library service is probably not unique to library service or, at most, is unique in detail of application only. Further, it has been argued that this very lack of uniqueness would seem beneficial from a practical point of view because it permits librarians to collaborate with others in shared theoretical problems. At the same time, there would appear to be no reason not to regard the totality or combination of the theoretical aspects of library service as being unique to librarianship. On reflection, this could seem to be an ideal outcome: Librarians can take pride in having something unique and take advantage of the fact that they share so much with others.

 Go to Chapter 6


1 Aristotle, The Ethics of Aristotle; The Nichomachean Ethics Translated (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1955), Book 1, chapter 3, pp. 27-8. For a discussion of "knowledge outside the matured mathematical-experimental sciences," see J. R. Ravetz, Scientific Knowledge and Its Social Problems (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971), pp. 371-7. Also M. Bunge, Scientific Research: The Search For System (Berlin: Springer Verlag, 1967).

2 P. Butler. An Introduction to Library Science (Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 1933), pp. xi-xii. See also J. M. Christ, Toward a Philosophy of Educational Librarianship (Littleton, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1972), chapter I and J. G. Meijer, Librarianship: A Definition (Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, 1982).

3 Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged (Springfield, Mass.: Merriam, 1971).

4 Oxford English Dictionary, vol. II (Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1961), p. 278.

5 R. Hafter, "Types of Search by Type of Library," Information Processing and Management 15, no. 5 (1979): 261-4.

6 A convenient general textbook is F. W. Lancaster, Information Retrieval Systems: Characteristics, Testing, and Evaluation, 2nd ed. (New York: Wiley, 1979).

7 See, for example, P. G. Wilson, Public Knowledge, Private Ignorance: Toward a Library and Information Policy (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1977).

8 M. G. Ford, "Research in User Behavior in University Libraries," Journal of Documentation 29, no. I (March 1973): 85-106. (Reprinted in Reader in Operations Research for Libraries, edited by P. Brophy et al. (Englewood, Colo.: Information Handling Services, 1976), pp. 293-306); J. M. Brittain, Information and Its Users: A Review With Special Reference to the Social Sciences (Bath, England: Bath University Press, 1970).

9 See, for example, P. M. Morse, Library Effectiveness: A Systems Approach (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1968); C.-C. Chen, Applications of Operations Research Models to Libraries (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1976); M. K. Buckland, "Ten years of Progress in Quantitative Research on Libraries," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences 12, no. 6 (1978): 333-9. Also chapter 16, below.

10 For example, see F. M. Blake and E. L. Perlmutter, "Libraries in the Market Place," Library Journal 99, no. 2 (January 15, 1974): 108-11; W. Schwuchow, "Fundamental Aspects of the Financing of Information Centers," Information Storage and Retrieval 9 (1973): 569-75. See also footnote 6 of chapter 10.

11 See, for example, R. D. Stueart and B. B. Moran, Library Management, 3rd ed. (Littleton, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1987).

12 Zipf's principle of least effort means that a person will strive to minimize the probable average rate of his work-expenditure over time. See G. K. Zipf, Human Behavior and the Principle of Least Effort (New York: Hafner, 1965, reprint of 1949 edition). See also M. K. Buckland and A. Hindle, "Library Zipf," Journal of Documentation 25, no. 2 (March 1969): 58-60; and R. A. Fairthorne, "Empirical Hyperbolic Distributions (Bradford-Zipf-Mandelbrot for Bibliometric Description and Prediction," Journal of Documentation 25, no. 4 (December 1969): 319-43.

13 T. C. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 1964).

14 L. Houser and A. M. Schrader, The Search for a Scientific Profession: Library Science Education in the U.S. and Canada (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1978).

15 K. Sparck Jones and M. Kay, Linguistics and Information Science. FID publ. no. 492. (New York: Academic Press, 1973).

16 S. C. Bradford, "Sources of Information on Specific Subjects," Engineering 137, no. 3550 (January 1934): 85-6. (Reprinted in Brophy et al., eds, Operations Research for Libraries, pp. 170-4 and in Collection Management 1, nos. 3-4 (Fall-Winter 1976-77): 95-103). S. C. Bradford, Documentation (London: Crosby Lockwood, 1948).

17 A citation index inverts bibliographical references and so permits one to move backwards from a cited article to the article that cites it. The assumption is that, if a reference has been made from one article to another, the content of the articles is likely to be similar in some significant way. See E. Garfield, Citation Indexing—Its Theory and Application in Science, Technology, and Humanities (New York: Wiley, 1979). See also chapter 7.

18 R. L. Ackoff, et al., The SCATT Report: Designing a National Scientific and Technological Communication System (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1976), p. 41. Cf. M. Getz, Public Libraries: An Economic View (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980), pp. 162-3.

19 The term "soft" is used following the custom of distinguishing between "hard" and "soft" disciplines. In this sense, hardness/softness refers to the extent to which the concepts can be unambiguously defined. "Hard" sciences include mathematics, physics, and chemistry; whereas sociology, psychology, and education are generally regarded as "soft" sciences. Hardness (in this sense) should not be confused with hardness in the sense of difficulty. Arguably, intellectual progress is more difficult in "soft" disciplines than in "hard" ones. See chapter 8.

20 For a survey of progress in quantification in library services, see chapter 16 below which is based on M. K. Buckland, "Ten Years of Progress in Quantitative Research in Libraries," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences 12, no. 6 (1978): 333-9.

21 C. Oldman, "Scientism and Academic Librarianship," in Information in Society: A Collection of Papers, edited by M. Barnes et al., (Leeds: School of Librarianship, Leeds Polytechnic, 1981), pp. 15-29.

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Copyright © 1988, 1999 Michael K. Buckland.
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