|Abstract:||Identifying the problems of selection in science has
something in common with trying to decide how to vote for the
next president. You can go just by the picture on your television
screen, or you can review his existence back to the time
when his father first smiled at his mother. Book selection can
be considered a simple, daisy-picking game of love-you, loveyou-
not, or you can bring into the picture the entire world of
publishing, selling and readingand the lives of humankind, our
readers. In this discussion, a selection will be made from the
general as well as the particular, from aspects of library administration
as well as the peculiarities of science literature.
Problems there are many, of solutions there are some.
Many of the problems attributed to the selection of science
materials are common to selecting in any field. Indeed,
one may say that there is no special problem with the science
books; the real problem is with the librarian who is trying to do
the selection. When dealing with fiction or family life or politics
or history, the librarian wades right in (sometimes with his
useful aids, of course), winnowing the harvest. Science, however,
carries the stigma of a mysterious and impenetrable region,
which only the initiated dare enter. The barrier is primarily
one of terminology; the words are esoteric and meaningless,
by themselves or together in a sentence. In the social
sciences, we hear no complaints of trouble, even where words,
perhaps meaningful when alone, are strung together in incomprehensible
titles. There, we cope; with science, we give up.
The basic fear, then, is that because we do not understand science,
we cannot even begin to select materials on it. None of
us is an expert in all the other fields of knowledge, yet we do
select in them. There is no overwhelming reason to get fluttery
or hysterical about science.