Librarianship is a great career. The work directly and indirectly helps people learn, find information for a business, do research, and grow. But there are larger matters to consider when formulating strategies for the future—those that inspire creativity and engage the intellect. These titles look at these larger subjects, some with specific actions to move libraries forward, but all with thought-provoking content.
In Six Issues Facing Libraries Today: Critical Perspectives, John M. Budd calls these issues persistent and thorny—and they are. The first topic addressed is information: what it is and what it is not. Budd explores the criteria used to evaluate statements and suggests further avenues for considering the theory of information. Next is information literacy, an area with some objective outcomes, but also one where we are still learning to apply the Association of College and Research Libraries framework adopted in 2016. It might be said that helping students understand information literacy is the purpose of libraries in higher education, but Budd suggests there may be other purposes with sections on the education of librarians, the moral and ethical bases of librarianship, and the future of librarianship. This is not an easy read, but it is an important one. Rowman and Littlefield, 2017. 196 P. $79. 978-1-4422-7737-3. (Also available as an ebook.)
Shadow Libraries: Access to Knowledge in Global Higher Education, edited by Joe Karaganis, takes the discussion of information and access outside libraries to methods devised by researchers to access information when libraries are not available or unable to support the needs of users. In his introduction, he describes the development of Sci-Hub—a controversial website that makes more than 70 million scholarly research articles available to anyone for free—as proof that researchers will seek out and obtain needed information, either by creating links or by more traditional means like circulating photocopies and proofs among peers. Essayist Balázs Bodó covers the development of the Library Genesis search engine as a means for Russian scholars to take advantage of loose copyright enforcement and thwart state censorship in Russia to access what they need. Other essayists cover initiatives in Argentina, Brazil, India, Poland, South Africa, and Uruguay to circumvent the limitations of formal structures. MIT Press, 2018. 320 P. $25. PBK. 978-0-262-53501-4.
For a practical and everyday application of the theory of information and importance of information literacy, Nicole A. Cooke’s Fake News and Alternative Facts: Information Literacy in a Post-Truth Era presents a discussion of information-seeking behavior, changes in how popular information is disseminated, and the importance of critical thinking. But the real value of this ALA Editions Special Report lies in its lesson plan for a workshop on teaching evaluative skills and an appendix with resources for librarians and general information consumers. ALA Editions, 2018. 56 P. $35. PBK. 978-0-8389-1636-0.
Picking up on Budd’s consideration of the future of librarianship, we move to the concept of sustainable libraries. Two titles by Rebekkah Smith Aldrich present aspects of this new lens for viewing how we practice our profession. Sustainable Thinking: Ensuring Your Library’s Future in an Uncertain World explores patterns that help libraries survive and meet community needs. Aldrich reviews strategies and tactics that can help libraries build a resilient organization that thrives despite changes. She reviews forces that disrupt library service and offers ways to develop strategies based on core values and tenets of sustainability. Among the tactics analyzed are change leadership, developing sustainable organizational culture, and building capacity to be a community catalyst. ALA Editions, 2018. 216 P. $49.99. PBK. 978-0-8389-1688-9.
Aldrich’s Resilience distills these concepts into a short handbook for understanding components that align librarianship’s values with community needs. It is the second in the Library Futures series from ALA’s Center for the Future of Libraries. ALA Editions, 2018. 96 P. $24.99. PBK. 978-0-8389-1634-6.
Finally, in Writing and Publishing Your Book: A Guide for Experts in Every Field, Melody Herr describes the processes for writing a book. This is not for the self-publisher who hopes to avoid the value-added services and costs of a traditional publisher. Instead, it describes the development of a book, from writing a proposal and understanding rights and contracts to the final stages of preparing a copyedited, designed, and typeset final publication for launch. It’s a reminder that books are not dying and that people will continue to want to get their information into others’ hands. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2017. 138 P. $50. 978-1-4408-5875-8. (Also available as an ebook.)