Though not unique to the United States, the public library movement has flourished here, sprung from a late-19th-century ideal of educating the masses and defined by pioneers such as Melvil Dewey. The mission remains essentially the same, but the public library (like all libraries) is undergoing some heavy self-examination. In the introduction to Public Libraries in the 21st Century, Ann E. Prentice identifies the issues that are now shaping public library development: access, the notion of library as place, immigrant populations, the internet, and economic considerations. The book’s chapters discuss the topics one would expect to find, such as governance, organization, programs, staffing, public relations, and finances. But rather than describing traditional models, the focus here is on how the public library is reinventing itself. Not surprisingly, technology is often the key, providing data, streamlining procedures, and expanding services while also presenting formidable challenges.
Indexed. Libraries Unlimited. 222p. $50. 978-1-59158-853-5