Browsing the Global Bookshelf
Bibliographic sources and methods for landscape architects.
By James L. Wescoat Jr., ASLA
Can you get into the best electronic libraries in the world, select
the publications most relevant for your project, and organize them
quickly? This question increasingly confronts every project landscape
architect and student of landscape architecture. Although practicing
landscape architects undertake thousands of web-based bibliographic
searches each year, they have few clear guides about how and where
to search. The skills involved are the same for the designer and
researcher, but with the exception of doctoral students who must
search comprehensively, designers face severe constraints on how
much time they can spend searching for and selecting promising material
and then reading and using it.
Why should you conduct a bibliographic search? If you do not search, your project
fails to benefit from information about the places, peoples, and
plants that you can find in previous publications. The rapid expansion
of internet library resources leaves fewer excuses for failing to
seek and use published resources in a systematic way. Older textual
bibliographies may still be useful, especially for publications
that do not have online electronic indexes (for example, for Landscape
Architecture magazine, see Ferguson, 1988; www.asla.org/lamag/magazineindex.html
and www.asla.org/lamag/archive.html; and the Avery Index of Architectural
Periodicals, by subscription at eureka.rlg.org).
Indexing is a problem in landscape architecture, compared with
engineering and environmental sciences, in part because project
reports are rarely copyrighted and distributed to research libraries
and because some projects are not reviewed in the journals indexed
by online databases. These practices must change if we are to take
advantage of the revolutions in library science and information
technology and learn from project experience and related research.
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