Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Reference Rant

"Can you help me find where Tozer said this quote?" The student looked frazzled. "I didn't write it down." Yes, she had looked in the books the library owned. No, she hadn't created bibliography cards or notes. My reference synapses fired and off we went. No the books weren't indexed. Bummer. It was taking too long (5 minutes)--"Can't we go online?" So we went online. A quick search in Google (1 minute) using Tozer, Christian, quotation located over 800 resources and we found the "perfect site." A.W. Tozer Online. No we didn't have the original work that it came from.

We spent a few minutes looking at the process of citing this for the paper and the student left sure I'd worked a miracle. I was just lucky.

The search process reminded me of the difficulty of locating quotations anywhere. Why didn't "classic Christian writers" have their writings indexed? Do I need to search and recommend replacing our older printings with newer editions which are indexed? Are any of them eligible for Project Gutenberg so if the work is out of print we could easily find it and use the direct source rather than a book of quotations? And who is going to volunteer the time it takes to properly digitize these works? (I did look at our religious quotations books today, but none of them had any quotes by Tozer. ) Is it worth the effort? Maybe someone has already started such a list and is willing to share it.

Oh yes --the quote was from That Incredible Christian "I think that most Christians would be better pleased if the Lord did not inquire into their personal affairs too closely. They want Him to save them, keep them happy and take them to heaven at last, but not to be too inquisitive about their conduct or service."

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