Column Editor: Corey Seeman (Director, Kresge Library Services, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan; Phone: 734-764-9969) Twitter @cseeman
Column Editor’s Note: The 1993 Harold Ramis film Groundhog Day is one of the truly great comedic movies of the last 40 years. Featuring a fantastic script that Ramis co-wrote with Danny Rubin (who also supplied the story), we follow weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) repeatedly live through the same day over and over again as he tries to woo his on site producer, Rita (Andie MacDowell). To be a librarian in 2020 has a fair amount of “Groundhog Day” in it. At one point in the movie, Phil even muses “Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.” Everyday seems to take on a strange dynamic of both something completely different and something fundamentally the same.
But one element in our world that does change continually are the resources that we have at our fingertips and on our shelves (remember those?). While some things seem not to change at all, the flow of new books and new works into the library community continues. All the while, our budgets and our abilities to manage resources might be more constrained in the upcoming year, so having a good sense of what we should add to our holdings is just the thing we hope to provide to our readers. We want people to make the right choices for their library. While Dr. S. R. Ranganathan pointed out in his Third Law of Library Science, “every book its reader,” we know there is value in all the works that are published. However, the value might not be for our particular community. So hopefully this will help you navigate how to spend your collection budget that might not have been as robust as we thought earlier this year.
Thanks to my great reviewers for getting items for this column. I have three first time reviewers for this column: Jessica Brangiel, Heather Cyre, and Christopher Edwards joining longtime reviewer Jennifer Matthews. If you would like to be a reviewer for Against the Grain (and I can ever get back into my office), please write me at <email@example.com>. If you are a publisher and have a book you would like to see reviewed in a future column, please also write me directly.
Be safe, be well, take care of others, be a helper … and happy reading and be nutty! — CS
Hussey, Lisa K., and Diane L. Velasquez. Library Management 101: A Practical Guide. 2nd Edition. Chicago: ALA Editions, 2019. 9780838917152, 312 pages. $76.99
Reviewed by Jennifer Matthews (Collection Strategy Librarian, Rowan University)
Library management is an area where some librarians have interest from the beginning, while others either grow their careers into a management position or have management thrust upon them. No matter where in one’s career library management may come, it is helpful to have a variety of tools available to assist an individual in that role.
Library Management 101: A Practical Guide is one such tool. While written as a textbook for the library school classroom, it also serves individuals well into their careers who are first entering management or those who may be returning to management after a hiatus. Edited by Lisa K. Hussey and Diane L. Velasquez, this text covers the gamut of management topics such as business theory, human resource management, strategic planning, unions, organizational culture, ethics, and grants among other things bound to keep the new manager up at night. Discussions include practical applications at both public and academic organizations with sample examples of items such as budget worksheets along with the inclusion of case studies, exercises, references and further reading for most chapters.
A particularly timely inclusion is Lisa K. Hussey’s chapter on diversity. The chapter includes not only a definition of diversity but discussion about microaggressions, White privilege, visual diversity, language diversity, as well as conversations about diversity initiatives. Most importantly, Hussey emphasizes the need for commitment to this issue from both the organization and the community. This issue is too important to overlook or neglect and every leader should be cognizant of not only their diversity awareness but also the resources available to them and their staff.
I also recommend the joint chapter on leadership by Mary Wilkins-Jordan and Lisa K. Hussey, particularly for those who have had leadership thrust upon them. Wilkins-Jordan and Hussey cover several leadership theories and competencies in this chapter and any leader should have at least a basic understanding of both so that they can be a better leader. The section on followers is slim but the reader can supplement this section by obtaining materials from the references and further readings. There is a great deal of literature in this area for one to absorb so this cursory view provides an excellent starting point for the novice leader.
This text provides timely information on management and leadership theory that would be of benefit to anyone that is new to a leadership role or learning about leadership in library school. It is also good for those managers and leaders who have been in their roles for some time to read as a refresher.
ATG Reviewer Rating: I need this in my library. (I want to be able to get up from my desk and grab this book off the shelf, if it’s not checked out.)
Jaeger, Paul T. and Greene Taylor, Natalie. Foundations of Information Policy. Chicago: ALA Neal Schuman Publishing, 2019. 9780838918029, 212 pages. $64.99
Reviewed by Jessica Brangiel (Electronic Resources Management Librarian, Swarthmore College)
Information is everywhere and the landscape around information policy is vast. Paul Jaeger and Natalie Greene Taylor have set out to write a book to fill the gap between information policy and informational professionals. Their goal as stated in the acknowledgements was to write a book introducing library and information science students and new professionals to the field of information policy. This book meets and exceeds that goal. As a librarian working in a four-year baccalaureate granting institution, I think this book would also prove useful to undergraduate students in several fields including history, law and computer/information science. Each chapter ends with “Questions to Consider” to further the exploration and interrogation of this subject. Though this book could easily be used as an introductory textbook, the authors have managed to intersperse humor and a lighthearted tone, making for a quick and enjoyable read.
The authors go far beyond the title of this book and provide a well researched background on how information policy has developed over time since the United States was founded. The interesting perspective of how our founding documents — the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the United States Constitution — intersect with areas of information policy such as intellectual freedom, access to information, protection of intellectual property, privacy and information security are woven throughout the book. Students and professionals new to the field of information policy will appreciate the broad coverage of the topic that the authors provide. In Chapter Three, for example, there is a very thorough and well cited discussion of the origin of the right to privacy. The authors connect the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the Bill of Rights to Judge Thomas Cooley’s 1880 book Laws of Torts to 1960’s case law including the influential case of Griswold v. Connecticut to the creation of the Privacy Act of 1974, to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of 1994 and finally to the Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988. Jaeger and Greene Taylor adeptly juxtapose these historical laws and acts with modern day privacy issues resulting from the explosion of information online.
In Chapter Four, “Why Study Information Policy,” the authors make a particularly effective argument for the importance of this topic by relaying no less than eight examples of information policy related stories from just one day in the year 2018. Just a few of the noted stories include the government of South Korea seeking to increase its policy of hidden spy cameras to be utilized in public and private spaces; to the lawyer for the president of the United States claiming that a tweet cannot be considered obstruction of justice; to genetic testing companies increasing new privacy guidelines that would limit the sharing of genetic information with researchers, law enforcement or other companies without prior consent. We are living in interesting times where issues of privacy, security, sharing and selling of information are constant and touch nearly every area of our lives.
The final chapters of Foundations of Information Policy nod toward advocacy and activism for librarians and information professionals. The book takes a noticeably different tone touching on the current political administration and climate. However, this does not detract from the overall importance of this book.
Paul T. Jaeger, Ph.D., J.D., is Professor and Director of the Master of Library Science (MLS) program of the College of Information Studies. With over 180 published articles and book chapters, Jager has demonstrated his expertise in the fields of Information Policy, Disability and Accessibility, E-Government, Information & Human Rights and Information Studies. Dr. Jaeger is Editor of Library Quarterly, Co-Editor of Advances in Librarianship, and Co-Editor of International Journal of Information, Diversity, & Inclusion. In 2014, he received the Library Journal/ALISE Excellence in Education Award. Natalie Greene Taylor is an Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida’s School of Information and the Program Coordinator for the Masters of Library and Information Science program. Dr. Greene Taylor’s research focuses on young people’s access to information exploring youth information behavior, information intermediaries, and information policy as it affects youth information access. She is an editor of Library Quarterly and the co-author of two additional books including Digital Literacy and Digital Inclusion: Information Policy and the Public Library and Libraries, Human Rights, and Social Justice: Enabling Access and Promoting Inclusion.
ATG Reviewer Rating: I need this available somewhere in my shared network. (I probably do not need this book, but it would be nice to get it within three to five days via my network catalog.)
Young, Lauren M. and Elizabeth G. Hinton (Editors). Framing Health Care Instruction: An Information Literacy Handbook for the Health Sciences. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2019. 9781538118931,
208 pages. $54.99 (ALA Members: $49.49)
Reviewed by Christopher Edwards (Assistant Head of Information Literacy, Eugene McDermott Library, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson)
This is a book that I wish had come across my desk a year ago. Any instruction librarian should be familiar with the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy, which is a flexible and conceptual approach to necessary information skills. One challenge for course formatted instruction in the framework is devising a linear approach to the material. Where do you begin when the frames are deliberately overlapping and adaptable? This is where librarians find ourselves as we are being asked more often to develop specific curriculum to foster information literacy within the context of a field. I myself have recently had the task of revising an information resources class for healthcare majors with this very goal.
The authors have great experience in the field of medical librarianship. Lauren M. Young, MLIS, MA, AHIP, is an associate librarian and instruction coordinator in the Reference and Research Services Department at Samford University’s Davis Library. Elizabeth G. Hinton, MSIS, AHIP is an instruction and research librarian and assistant professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Rowland Medical Library and a liaison to the School of Nursing.
Young and Hinton manage the seemingly nebulous task of matching up each frame to relevant lessons within the material using real life examples that could realistically serve as a step-by-step guide to developing a health information literacy course. To illustrate this point: Chapter One, “Bibliographic Instruction and Accreditation in the Health Sciences,” breaks out standards from various degree programs and accrediting bodies that directly reference or relate to information literacy skills and the specific frames that apply. This chapter would be all a person ought to need to “sell” administration on a documented need for instruction programs. Not only are information and research skills necessary for success in these degrees, they are demanded!
Each successive chapter addresses one of the frames with concrete examples of application and learning objectives. What does constructed authority really mean for medical professionals? How does the creation of information as a process manifest for health studies researchers? These questions are sketched out in terms that would be easy to translate into a practice. Indeed, the contextual explanation of the frame is followed with actual lesson plans and assignments as examples pulled from contributing librarians who have already navigated these waters.
While I would not advocate wholesale adoption of another instructor’s lesson, there are elements of inspirations that would certainly help less experienced instruction developers to move from theory to meaningful learning activities.
ATG Reviewer Rating: I need this on my desk. (This book is so valuable, that I want my own copy at my desk that I will share with no one.)
O’Dea, Suzanne. From Suffrage to the Senate: America’s Political Women: An Encyclopedia of Leaders, Causes, and Issues. 4th Edition. New York:
Grey House Publishing, 2019. 978-1-64265-097-6.
800 pages. $255.00.
Reviewed by Heather Cyre (Head of Public Services, University of Washington Bothell & Cascadia College Campus Library, University of Washington Bothell, Bothell)
The 2018 midterm elections not only saw the largest surge of female candidates and women elected to political office since 1992 but shattered a historic number of firsts in United States History. New Mexico, Maine, and South Dakota elected their first female governors. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee became the first female senators to represent their states. The 116th Congress elected that year included the first Muslim Americans (Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib), the first Native American women (Debra Haaland and Sharice Davids), and the first Latina members of congress (Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia).1 Though women are still far from equal representation in Congress, author Suzanne O’Dea has revised From Suffrage to the Senate: America’s Political Women to underscore the significant advancement of women and politics in the United States.
Originally published in 2000, this fourth edition includes new and expanded biographical entries of the “the people, laws, court cases, and organizations that establish or alter women’s relationships to their families, their communities, and their government.”2 Maintaining the selection criteria of previous editions, O’Dea includes 100 new entries covering topics such as the #MeToo, #YouKnowMe, and #BlackLivesMatter movements, biographies of all of the 40 freshmen women of the 116th Congress, and a summary of the 2017 Women’s March. O’Dea also updated and expanded previously-published entries, specifically broadening profiles on female judges in the federal court of appeals, women in the military, and presidential appointees.
The advantage of From Suffrage to the Senate is that entries are well-organized and provide a brief overview of the political history and landscape of women and politics. The fourth edition not only introduces readers to lesser-known state and local officials, historical leaders, and essential legislation but highlights rising newcomers and political activism. The 1,028 entries are organized alphabetically over two volumes and additional facts, statistics, and primary source documents are included in two appendices to provide supplemental context. Individual profiles are concise, highlighting the impact and significance of their work or relevancy in chronological order. Depending on length of public service or accomplishments, entry lengths vary. Legislative and topical entries follow a similar organizational structure but provide more breadth of information.
It should be noted that this text is best paired with other similar reference works, such as Women in the American Political System: An Encyclopedia of Women as Voters, Candidates, and Office Holders, in order to form a complete account of the issues and individuals impacting women and politics in the United States. For example, the Burwell v Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. decision in 2014 allowed closely held for-profit corporations to exclude certain forms of health care products and services, namely contraceptive methods, from their employee health insurance plans by claiming religious objection. This Supreme Court case is not included in whole or as footnotes or cross-references of relevant entries such as Sylvia Burwell, former Secretary of Health and Human Services, or Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote the dissenting opinion.
Overall, the fourth edition of From Suffrage to Senate provides a good starting point for researching the political women, legislation, court cases, social issues, and organizations that shape the lives of women in the United States and that have altered the course of American politics. Academic libraries supporting lower-level undergraduate research and high school libraries would find this a useful and accessible addition to their reference collections.
ATG Reviewer Rating: I need this in my library. (I want to be able to get up from my desk and grab this book off the shelf, if it’s not checked out.)
1. Eli Watkins, “Midterm Elections: Women and LGBT Candidates Make History in 2018 Midterms,” CNN online, last modified November 7, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/07/politics/historic-firsts-midterms/index.html.
2. Suzanne O’Dea, From Suffrage to the Senate: America’s Political Women: an Encyclopedia of Leaders, Causes, and Issues, New York: Grey House Publishing, 2019), xxi.
Guide to the ATG Reviewer Ratings
The ATG Reviewer Rating is being included for each book reviewed. Corey came up with this rating to reflect our collaborative collections and resource sharing means and thinks it will help to classify the importance of these books.
• I need this book on my nightstand. (This book is so good, that I want a copy close at hand when I am in bed.)
• I need this on my desk. (This book is so valuable, that I want my own copy at my desk that I will share with no one.)
• I need this in my library. (I want to be able to get up from my desk and grab this book off the shelf, if it’s not checked out.)
• I need this available somewhere in my shared network. (I probably do not need this book, but it would be nice to get it within three to five days via my network catalog.)
• I’ll use my money elsewhere. (Just not sure this is a useful book for my library or my network.)