Disaster Recovery, Going Green, Protecting Privacy: How We Do Librarianship

February 6, 2013

Karen Muller

Regardless of how large (or small) your library is, or whether you serve elementary school students, college professors, or retirees seeking the latest book by their favorite author, you are affected by issues that may change how we “do” librarianship. Here are a few recent titles that discuss these topics, sometimes raising more questions than not—and therefore making them fit nicely with the 2013 ALA Midwinter Meeting theme, “The conversation starts here.”

How can your library go green? What environmental factors are under your control that you can address to make a contribution toward improving the environment? Monika Antonelli and Mark McCullough offer a group of essays in Greening Libraries that explore some of the questions. Building a new LEED-certified building is one route; another is to update an existing building. Several case studies describe how staff committees worked to bring environmental awareness to library services—including evaluating the giveaways, employing alternative energy resources, and finding ways to do outreach with less impact on the environment.

Indexed. Library Juice Press, 2012. 280 p. $32. 978-1-936117-08-6 (Also available as an ebook.)


With the explosion of information available on the internet, some people think libraries have become irrelevant. But in Web of Deceit: Misinformation and Manipulation in the Age of Social Media, editor Anne P. Mintz has assembled a series of essays on the privacy issues, scams, and political misinformation rampant across social media and online in general. An underlying message, though, is the increased importance of knowing how to make accurate connections between facts and determining that information sources are indeed reliable. In other words, what remains critical is understanding and conveying the importance of information literacy, a key element of library service in today’s information age.

Indexed. CyberAge/Information Today, 2012. 224 p. $29.95. 978-0-910965-91-0


Are libraries in competition with avenues for entertainment or sources of information? Should libraries market their services in the same way businesses market to their customers? Or are libraries so integral to our democratic foundations that we should put limits on commercial, privatizing influences? These are some of the questions one might ask when reading the extensively researched Libraries, Classrooms, and the Interests of Democracy: Marking the Limits of Neoliberalism, by John Buschman. In this sequel to his Dismantling the Public Sphere: Situating and Sustaining Librarianship in the Age of New Public Philosophy (Libraries Unlimited, 2003), Buschman continues his discussion of the dangers of incorporating a business model into the delivery of library services, which should be a public good. Neither is easy reading, but the issues discussed provide a philosophical foundation for understanding current trends toward “library as place” and privatization.

Indexed. Scarecrow Press, 2012. 248 p. $65. 978-0-8108-8528-8 (Also available as an ebook.)


More optimistic is Opening Up Education: The Collective Advancement of Education through Open Technology, Open Content, and Open Knowledge, edited by Toru Iiyoshi and M. S. Vijay Kumar. The essayists describe the open technologies that have combined to create freely available coursework and explore issues of learning design and transformations in the teaching process. But how do we need to change to take advantage of these resources for the benefit of our library users? What are the ways libraries can build learning communities with these resources? Can libraries use shared experiences and tacit knowledge to create a sustainable, transformative educational opportunity for our communities?

Indexed. MIT Press, 2010. 500 p. $18.95. 978-0262-51501-6


Public Libraries and Resilient Cities, edited by Michael Dudley, tells the stories of several libraries that have taken transformative roles in building ecologically, economically, and socially resilient communities. Dudley sets the stage by reviewing the trends and issues facing cities and their libraries: financial constraints, shifting populations, climate change manifested by seemingly more frequent natural disasters, and pervasive use of online and broadcast media. The case studies provide hope: a literacy center for new Americans, free lunches at a summer reading program, public library gardens, and support for a community’s recovery from the force of a hurricane.

Indexed. ALA, 2013. 192 p. $65. 978-08389-1136-5

KAREN MULLER is librarian and knowledge management specialist for the ALA Library.