A Dictionary of Acronyms and Abbreviations in Library and Information Science
Ashley Thomson is a full librarian at Laurentian University and co-editor or co-author of nine books, most recently Margaret Atwood: A Reference Guide, 1988-2005.
Included in this second edition (the first was published in 1979) are the modest number of terms that one would expect to find here — LC for the Library of Congress, CLA for the Canadian Library Association. Also included are a number of French-Canadian acronyms and abbreviations in the field. Beyond that, one finds a whole range of entries (such as ACS for the American Chemical Society) that are there because these institutions are actively involved in library services or programmes.
In this new edition, abbreviations and acronyms related to computer science and technology have been greatly expanded. All told, the new edition comes in at 133 pages longer than its predecessor.
In examining the book, one is struck by the number of times the same abbreviation is used to mean different things. CIS appears 10 times, referring to Catalogue Information Service, the Cue Indexing System, and Current Information Selection (of IBM), to give but three examples (pp.80-81).
If you do not happen to know what the preceding terms mean, then you are at one with this reviewer. In real life, I suppose that some of these meanings would become clear by their context. Even so, any third edition would be considerably enhanced with a brief explanation of the terms covered. A happy by-product of this reform is that the book would also seem more like a dictionary instead of a laundry list.
Despite the authors’ reluctance to do so (p.i), the book would also be enhanced by a list of the references they used to compile the book. The third entry in it, AAAAAA, which refers to the Association for the Alleviation of Asinine Abbreviations and Absurd Acronyms sounds a bit fishy to me and tends right off to undermine the book’s credibility.
I have other quibbles with this book — why is SPL included, standing for the Scranton Public Library, when it also stands for the Sudbury Public Library, which is not included?
Back in 1979, when the first edition of this book became available, LUL (that’s my own library — we’re not in the book either) purchased a copy. Since then, neither I nor any of my colleagues has had occasion to lay hands on it — until now, of course, when I got to compare it to the second edition. Perhaps we at Laurentian are unusual. Perhaps not.