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This Year's Top 10 Books on Librarianship
Posted On December 6, 2016
In each issue of Information Today (IT), our resident reviewer Gwen M. Gregory writes about a book that library staffers can use to stay up-to-date and informed on how to do their jobs most effectively. Here are the 10 books she reviewed in 2016, along with her comments on why each one should be on every librarian’s radar. Let us know in the comments if you’ve read any of these titles and found their information useful. And then head on over to Information Today, Inc.’s own book site to see the titles we offer. Happy reading!

Our Enduring Values Revisited: Librarianship in an Ever-Changing World

Our Enduring Valuesby Michael Gorman

(reviewed in the January/February 2016 IT)

Description: “Author Michael Gorman doesn’t hesitate to take on big issues and how they relate to libraries, as he has done for many years. In this new volume, he re­vises his book Our Enduring Val­ues: Librarianship in the 21st Cen­tury, which was published in 2000. Many of the same themes are pres­ent in this work, with new chapters at the end and more than 70 addi­tional pages. It remains a highly charged and acerbic commentary on librarianship, updated to reflect current trends and events,” Gregory writes. “Gorman’s own reading and study led him to develop an inventory of librarianship’s central values: stewardship, rationalism, service, intellectual freedom, literacy and learning, equity of access to re­corded knowledge and information, privacy, democracy, and the great­er good. Each of these is explored in a full chapter. … Even if you don’t agree with him all the time, you have to admit that he has many thought-provoking ideas about the role of libraries in society.”

Verdict:Our Enduring Values Revisited is a sizable helping of library opin­ion and philosophy. It provides am­ple food for thought to all in the pro­fession. Gorman’s quips and zingers are often funny and sometimes hit close to home, making this an en­tertaining book to read. However, he also provides genuine inspira­tion for librarians about why we do what we do and how we are vital to individuals and society. Anyone con­nected with libraries will find some­thing valuable here.”

Creative Library Marketing and Publicity: Best Practices

Creative Library Marketingedited by Robert J. Lackie and M. Sandra Wood

(reviewed in the March 2016 IT)

Description: “As libraries have joined the mar­keting game, they have developed a wide range of strategies and pro­grams. In this book, we can learn about a number of individual proj­ects while gaining some general knowledge about library market­ing and promotion,” Gregory writes. “Together, the ed­itors have gathered this collection of best practices in library public­ity and marketing. They note that the articles focus on the ‘most vis­ible aspects of marketing for librar­ies—promotion, publicity, brand­ing, and advocacy.’ The 12 chapters include contributions from school, public, and academic libraries both large and small. Many describe spe­cific projects, while others present more general guidance regarding marketing.”

Verdict:Creative Library Marketing and Publicity presents interesting case studies on current library practice in this area. This is not a general handbook, but a selection of articles detailing some successful library projects. They include promoting a new library space, building a so­cial media presence, and creating successful programming. Begin­ners may also want to look at more general marketing handbooks for libraries.”

Ethics and Values in Librarianship: A History

Ethics and Valuesby Wallace Koehler

(reviewed in the April 2016 IT)

Description: “In his book, Eth­ics and Values in Librarianship: A History, Wallace Koehler provides a thoughtful overview of library phi­losophy and history, focusing on our ethical perspectives,” writes Gregory. “In the preface, he cites S.R. Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science, first published in the 1930s, as a cornerstone of mod­ern library ethics. He refers to the laws throughout the book. As a re­fresher, they are: 1) Books are for use, 2) Every reader his/her book, 3) Every book its reader, 4) Save the time of the reader, and 5) The library is a growing organism. … Koehler organizes his book in­to chapters that concentrate on dif­ferent ethical themes. They include stewardship and service, classifica­tion, intellectual property, democracy, and librarian training and qualifications. … I appreciated the discussion of stewardship versus service, including the natural ten­sion between these two functions. Historically, libraries evolved as guardians of books and cultural heritage. More recently, service has grown in importance. Koehler sees the balance between these two as­pects of our work as fundamental to our profession.”

Verdict: Ethics and Values in Librarian­ship is a dense and thought-pro­voking work that’s full of histori­cal insight and perspective. It will provide practicing librarians with much food for thought. The exten­sive bibliography includes sources originally produced over many cen­turies. Students, library theorists, and practitioners will all find valu­able insights here.”

Digital Literacy and Digital Inclusion: Information Policy and the Public Library

Digital Literacy and Digital Inclusionby Kim M. Thompson, Paul T. Jaeger, Natalie Greene Taylor, Mega Subramaniam, and John Carlo Bertot

(reviewed in the May 2016 IT)

Description: “Intended for policymakers as well as information professionals, this book zeroes in on digital liter­acy, the digital divide, and digital inclusion. It focuses mainly on the U.S., but also presents case studies from other nations,” writes Gregory. “Throughout the book, the au­thors use a tripartite model to ex­amine information access, incorpo­rating physical, intellectual, and social aspects. They also apply the theory of information worlds, which was developed in a 2010 book co-written by Jaeger. They in­corporate research and commen­tary from many fields, including li­brarianship, political science, and communications in their attempt at ‘large-scale consideration of dig­ital literacy and digital inclusion as policy problems.’ The resulting work is scholarly in tone and in­cludes an extensive bibliography.”

Verdict:Digital Literacy and Digital In­clusion should be an important part of social justice efforts, re­flecting a new emphasis on human rights in our society. This volume is a thoughtful addition to the profes­sional literature. Hopefully, it will spread beyond the library world, demonstrating how public libraries are integral to the struggle for digi­tal equity.”

Libraries, Human Rights, and Social Justice: Enabling Access and Promoting Inclusion

Libraries, Human Rights,by Paul T. Jaeger, Natalie Greene Taylor, and Ursula Gorham

(reviewed in the June 2016 IT)

Description: The authors “hope to ‘help librar­ians better understand and artic­ulate their roles in promoting hu­man rights and social justice, as well as to educate policy makers … about the contributions of librar­ies,’” quotes Gregory. “Follow­ing a historical introduction, the various chapters concentrate on the roles U.S. libraries play in hu­man rights and social justice, how these roles are not usually explicit­ly addressed by libraries, and why and how this could change. … The authors suggest that if the library pro­fession had a clear cul­ture of human rights and social justice, nec­essary actions in many areas would be better understood and easi­er to justify. … They strongly believe that libraries should ‘become what they already are,’ recognizing publicly that we are committed to human rights and social justice and that we actively work for them.”

Verdict:Libraries, Human Rights, and Social Justice encourages librar­ians to pursue an advocacy role. The authors suggest that we ful­ly recognize our efforts in this ar­ea and make them a stronger part of our profession, including provid­ing training in library school, our professional associations, and daily work. If we join more closely with the contemporary movements for human rights and social justice, we may gain new allies and partners as well as help our users. This book provides a wide-ranging, research-based view of how these issues are important to libraries.”

Adding Value to Libraries, Archives, and Museums: Harnessing the Force That Drives Your Organization’s Future

Adding Value to Librariesby Joseph R. Matthews

(reviewed in the July/August 2016 IT)

Description: “In Adding Value to Libraries, Archives, and Museums, Matthews applies the business concept of add­ing value to cultural institutions. He recognizes that libraries and museums have a long history of ac­quiring and preserving artifacts. However, things are changing. Peo­ple no longer always need (or want) to visit us physically. They want new kinds of access as well as new ways to interact with us. We need to consider what these changes mean for cultural institutions,” Gregory writes. “Matthews focuses on ways that libraries can add value; most of the examples are drawn from the library world. He spends a chap­ter convincing us that we need to add value in order to survive and shares a number of models. Any model should at least answer the following questions: ‘Who is your customer?’; ‘What is your value proposition?’; and ‘How are you providing value?’ … Matthews has developed the Adding Value Diamond mod­el, playing off the traditional four C’s of diamond evaluation. He sug­gests five C’s for adding value: con­tent, context, connection, collabo­ration, and community. The bulk of the book explains these concepts and how to apply them.”

Verdict:Adding Value to Libraries, Ar­chives, and Museums is a thought-provoking guide for cultural insti­tutions. It introduces a number of ways that we can decide what we should do and how to do it, based on the concept of adding value for our users and concentrating on in­novative services available through the web. Library leaders and all who are concerned with how librar­ies can thrive in new ways will find interesting ideas here.”

Inspired Collaboration: Ideas for Discovering and Applying Your Potential

Inspired Collaborationby Dorothy Stoltz with Susan M. Mitchell, Cen Campbell, Rolf Grafwallner, Kathleen Reif, and Stephanie Mareck Shauck

(reviewed in the September 2016 IT)

Description: “The public library can be a center of community activity, working with all sorts of outside groups in pur­suit of its mission. Inspired Collab­oration: Ideas for Discovering and Applying Your Potential gives in­sight into this process by means of helping individual librarians grow and succeed,” writes Gregory. “Each chapter focuses on a particu­lar aspect of collaboration, termed a ‘discovery,’ and includes a dis­cussion and examples. At the end of each chapter is a numbered list of ideas and questions to help readers consider and adopt the ideas in it. Overall, the book expresses a posi­tive view, serving as a ‘celebration of the spirit of collaboration.’ … A variety of appendixes fol­low the main text. These include a multi-page description of a sam­ple collaborative project as well as a list of web extras available at ala”

Verdict:Inspired Collaboration will def­initely be most valuable to public libraries. The majority of the ex­amples presented are from pub­lic libraries, often regarding servic­es for preschool-age children. The emphasis on collaboration is espe­cially appropriate in these times of scarce resources for public agen­cies. This book is more of an inspi­rational guide than a how-to-do-it resource; the authors provide sto­ries of famous leaders, including Ben Franklin and Eddie Ricken­backer. You won’t find a list of steps to take to do a collaborative project. Rather, readers will be stimulated to consider their own motivations and strengths and how they can be used for the improvement of the commu­nity at large.”

Encoding Space: Shaping Learning Environments That Unlock Human Potential

Encoding Spaceby Brian Mathews and Leigh Ann Soistmann

(reviewed in the October 2016 IT)

Description:Encod­ing Space: Shaping Learning Envi­ronments That Unlock Human Po­tential presents innovative ways to think about academic library space and its purpose,” writes Gregory. “The book suggests four different design concepts for library areas, all focusing on what libraries do. In the knowledge showroom, you can find scholarly information and try out and use technology. The knowledge studio is an area for long-term tasks, providing collaborative space to en­courage intellectual work. Special services, such as data consulting, grant writing, and instructional de­sign are available in the knowledge boutique. Finally, the knowledge salon is a place for public gatherings and performances. These concepts serve as a great start for brainstorm­ing about the needs of a particular library or institution. The key to all of it is that the library doesn’t just provide space—it actively serves as a host and a partner in developing spaces and programs.”

Verdict: “Mathews and Soistmann pres­ent an appealing view of what ac­ademic libraries can become. En­coding Space is mostly applicable to academic institutions, but may be relevant to others who are inter­ested in library buildings and spac­es. An abundance of graphics can make this book hard to read if you are used to nothing but words fill­ing the pages. However, it is worth the effort to embrace this positive view of our possible future.”

Metaliteracy in Practice

Metaliteracy in Practiceedited by Trudi E. Jacobson and Thomas P. Mackey

(reviewed in the November 2016 IT)

Description: “Metaliteracy takes information literacy to a whole new level. In the library context, it makes the understanding, use, and development of information a central learning experience, incor­porating metacognition, lifelong learning, social media, and technol­ogy to empower students and teach­ers,” writes Gregory. Metaliteracy in Practice “collects case studies from practitioners who apply metaliter­acy concepts in higher education, including several pieces that were co-authored by librarians and facul­ty members from other areas. … Metaliteracy in Practice in­cludes many perspectives on metaliteracy, describes what it is, and discusses how individuals have in­corporated it into their teaching and practice. Several authors talk about the four areas of metaliter­ate learning: behavioral, cognitive, affective, and metacognitive. … The case studies include inspir­ing material about collaborative courses developed and taught by librarians and faculty members.”

Verdict:Metaliteracy in Practice con­tributes to our understanding of how people learn to use informa­tion, specifically in the academic context. Incorporation of metalit­eracy concepts in higher education makes the importance of librari­ans and our deep understanding of the universe of knowledge essen­tial. These case studies provide ef­fective examples of how librarians join with other faculty members to develop and teach courses with metaliteracy as a goal. If you have read about metaliteracy and want practical examples of its applica­tion, this book is for you.”

Visual Literacy for Libraries: A Practical, Standards-Based Guide

Visual Literacyby Nicole E. Brown, Kaila Bussert, Denise Hattwig, and Ann Medaille

(reviewed in the December 2016 IT)

Description: “In Visual Literacy for Libraries: A Practical, Standards-Based Guide,the authors—who were on the taskforce that developed the ACRL standards—guide academic librarians to a better understanding of visual literacy and how to apply the concept in their daily work,” writes Gregory. “Each chapter includes common features that are visually distinct from the main text, such as Coffee Breaks, which are quick lessons to help librarians get familiar with and use the concepts taught. Chapters conclude with Next Steps—ways to incorporate the concepts into everyday teaching and work. Extensive Visual Literacy in Action sections follow each chapter. These include suggested activities for teaching students, complete with exercises and worksheets.”

Verdict:Visual Literacy for Libraries is an excellent starting point for teaching library users about images, especially in the academic setting. It will broaden your conception of information literacy to include visual resources, which are expanding in importance. Individual librarians may choose to incorporate particular activities into their instruction, depending on needs and time. The variety of suggested activities and worksheets provide ready-to-use content that can be easily customized. The experienced instruction librarian in an academic library will find inspiration for new lessons.”

Brandi Scardilli is the editor of NewsBreaks and Information Today.

Email Brandi Scardilli

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