Column Editor: Debbie Vaughn (College of Charleston)
Smallwood, Carol, Jason Kuhl, and Lisa Fraser, eds.
Time and Project Management Strategies for Librarians.
Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, 2013. 978-0810890527. 308 pages. $55.00.
Reviewed by Debbie Vaughn
Full disclosure: it was a colleague and friend of mine, regular ATG contributor Jolanda-Pieta “Joey” van Arnhem, who asked if I would consider reviewing the subject of this month’s MM, Time and Project Management Strategies for Librarians. Joey and I had been communicating about teaching online classes — something we both do for the College of Charleston — and the subject of asynchronous communication came up (no surprise there). She mentioned that she and her co-author, Jerry Spiller, had written a chapter on that very subject for Time and Project Management Strategies for Librarians, recently published by The Scarecrow Press. I told her I would be delighted to review the title, and went about requesting a review copy. Embarrassingly, once my review copy arrived, it sat on my desk for a few weeks. My youngest child, just learning to pull up and grab things off of table-height surfaces, would frequently pull the book to the floor and, in his baby way, rifle through the pages, which would remind me that I hadn’t yet taken the time to examine it, and I would promptly put it back on my desk. That was my first mistake; I should have immediately immersed myself in this book, because once I did, I was motivated and re-charged like I hadn’t been in a while.
Many of you are likely at least somewhat familiar with the blog (and/or books) Lifehacker; its tagline reads, “tips and downloads for getting things done.” Time and Project Management Strategies for Librarians is the Lifehacker for librarians and library support staff. At the same time, reading this book is what I imagine it must be like going to a TED Conference, if there were a TED Conference held at library land: it offers “ideas worth spreading” from folks who work in the field, it is engaging and entertaining, it isn’t cumbersome, and it provides practical information that is useful to your professional life (and, let’s face it, your professional life bears a relatively significant impact on your personal life). So, Lifehacker and a TED Conference rolled into one book…how could you resist?
Here’s the lowdown: Time and Project Management Strategies for Librarians is divided into eight major categories: Management Strategies; Working with Staff; Students, Volunteers, and Interns; Monitoring Time and Projects; Getting Organized; Using Technology; Work-Life Balance; and Professional Development. Each section includes several chapters, none more than ten pages. Chapters cover topics on both macro- and micro-levels, from library-wide prioritizing using Six Sigma tools to personal productivity, and from staffing various service points to stress reduction. Authors represent the full spectrum of library professionals and those who work with a library in some capacity: school librarians, public librarians, academic librarians, special librarians, library school faculty, library volunteers, trained librarians working in industry, non-library faculty serving on library committees, and more. This rich cohort of contributors demonstrates that all of the ideas, suggestions, findings, and tips (1) generalize across the spectrum, and (2) speak to issues and needs experienced across the spectrum.
Get this book for your library ASAP! For institutions and organizations supporting a library school or program, a copy for the circulating collection is a must. All libraries, though, should consider acquiring several copies to distribute among library personnel. If administrators, librarians, and other staff could take just ten minutes a day to read a chapter or two, they could easily finish the book within a month. Individual chapters or even the book as a whole could serve as a strong basis for dialogue to improve services and productivity, and overall to “do more with less” — a road that all organizations are navigating. To provide even more bang for the buck, staff could employ some of the communication and project management strategies to organize such dialogues. Happy reading and happy library-lifehacking, everyone!
Leah was appointed Executive Director of the Charleston Conference in 2017, and has served in various roles with the Charleston Information Group, LLC, since 2004. Prior to working for the conference, she was Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions for the College of Charleston for four years. She lives in a small town near Columbia, SC, with her husband and two kids where they raise a menagerie of farm animals.