Information Research, a journal listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals, began publishing in 1995. Based on an analysis of hits on the journal Website, the Information Research Reader assembled 15 of the most popular papers published in Information Research from 1995 to 2005, out of more than 100 papers. For this volume, editors Maceviute and Wilson requested that authors revise their pieces to reflect more current research. Articles were grouped into 5 categories: general papers, information behavior, environmental scanning and decision making, knowledge management, and information strategy. Because “information management” is a diffuse notion, this reviewer looked for a definition to illuminate the concept. Although some papers are outstanding, the work is disappointing on the whole. After reading the entire book, readers do not have a satisfactory definition of this field. The formulation offered by the editors is too vague: “Information management (IM) is a field of wide scope which is also related to other fields, such as information systems, computer science, artificial intelligence research, information science, documentation and more. … [O]ne should mention diverse levels of IM: research is done on personal, organizational, and state-wide IM” (p. xi). To be fair, the editors acknowledge the inherent amorphousness of the field at the beginning and admit that informing a reader about such a field, therefore, is rather difficult. The best papers are the most general; even if IM remains hard to grasp, these pieces help ease the task. “Environmental Scanning as Information Seeking and Organizational Learning” provides a thorough overview of the concept of environmental scanning, taking account of the effect of external factors on the operations of an organization. The author details different techniques of environmental scanning and delineates the conditions that encourage aggressive or too passive scanning. Because the information seeking universe is rapidly evolving, all librarians could benefit from a good understanding of environmental scanning. The most amusing chapters concern knowledge management. The author of ‘“The Nonsense of Knowledge Management’ Revisited” reconsiders his view that knowledge management is a meaningless buzzword but concludes that he was right to begin with. The counterpoint, “Knowledge Management and Information Management: Review of Empirical Evidence,” argues that knowledge management is a valid subset of information management. This reviewer sides with the nonsense camp, because no meaning of information management emerged. A particularly relevant chapter for Journal of the Medical Library Association readers is “Healthcare Information Management and Technology Strategy: The Story So Far.” Writing about the United Kingdom, the author details the inherent tension between national informatics directives and local realities. This is not just a challenge for the United Kingdom; the United States continues to grapple with the challenge of creating portable electronic health records (EHRs) that maintain privacy. Librarians have been an integral part of this discussion, particularly about how to integrate evidence-based content into EHRs. Because of the quirks of Website hit counts, several papers have narrow appeal. One paper discusses the information culture in the Finnish insurance industry; another focuses on information needs at Estonian publishing companies. Two papers are about Singapore: one about the information-seeking behavior in its managerial class and another about the city-state's strategies for expanding on information technology development by the year 2000. The profusion of these types of papers is puzzling. Obviously, it is important to learn about the experiences of people in other countries, especially places that relatively few North Americans have visited. But, in the context of the Information Research Reader, selection of more broadly representative papers would have been useful. Theoretically, the top fifteen most popular papers all might have been about one country. Would they all have been published? The randomness of some of the selections leads to not recommending this book for most libraries, despite the excellence of many of its papers. It would be useful as a reference source in libraries that support programs in information management. However, even those libraries—and all others—could simply refer patrons to the freely available online version of Information Research. Once on the Website, readers could chart their own course to the interesting articles in this unique journal.
|Title of host publication||Introducing Information Management|
|Subtitle of host publication||An Information Research Reader|
|Editors||Tom Wilson, Elena Maceviciute|
|Place of Publication||London|
|Number of pages||14|
|Publication status||Published - 2005|