REVIEWS: Library and Information Science Research
Electronic Journal ISSN 1058-6768
2007 Volume 17 Issue 1; March
Bi-annual LIBRES17N1 REVIEWS
in this issue:
American Library Association. Office of Intellectual Freedom. (2006). Intellectual Freedom Manual (7th ed.)
Balloffet, Nelly, and Hille, Jenny. (2005). Preservation and Conservation for Libraries and Archives.
Robertson, Deborah A. (2005). Cultural Programming for Libraries: Linking Libraries, Communities & Culture.
Vardell, Sylvia M. (2006). Poetry Aloud Here! Sharing Poetry with Children in the Library.
Voorhees, Ellen M. & Harman, Donna K. (Eds.). (2005). TREC: Experiment and Evaluation in Information Retrieval.
Westman, Stephen R. (2005). Creating Database-Backed Library Web Pages: Using Open Source Tools.
Woodward, Jeannette A. (2005). Creating the Customer Driven Library: Building on the Bookstore Model.
American Library Association. Office of Intellectual Freedom. (2006). Intellectual Freedom Manual (7th ed.). Chicago: American Library Association. 521pp. ISBN: 0-8389-3561-3. $52.00
The Intellectual Freedom Manual, first published in 1974, is the standard reference work and practical guide for matters concerning intellectual freedom. The seventh edition has been revised to include new and amended documents adopted by the American Library Association (ALA) and the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) since the sixth edition was published in 2002. The extensive revisions cover the effect on United States libraries following the September 11, 2001 attacks and the legislation that followed, particularly the Patriot Act.
The heart of the book is in Parts II and III, which contain policies, resolutions, guidelines and suggested procedures adopted by the ALA Council and the OIF. The text of each document is followed by a section describing its history. Some of these histories are quite lengthy, including extensive quotations from earlier versions and detailed descriptions of amendments over the years. They are not very useful for librarians trying to determine how to apply the policy and might better be replaced by case studies depicting how the policy could be used to resolve real-life problems. A separate publication that compiles the history of the documents leading to the development of ALA’s intellectual freedom policy would better serve the librarian or alternatively, the history could be kept internally by the OIF to inform discussions of policy revisions.
Part V is a useful guide to preparing for and responding to requests to remove works from library collections. The seventh edition revision does away with the somewhat negative depiction of complainants in the sixth edition, focusing instead on responding to challenges respectfully, but in a way that upholds the value of intellectual freedom. The appendix on navigating the OIF website could be omitted--going to the site itself is a better way to discover how to use it. The very short glossary could usefully be expanded to include definitions of more terms and the origin of each definition. The OIF website for the Manual
( http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/iftoolkits/ifmanual/intellectual.htm) contains updates and other accompanying information in a basic list format.
Despite minor flaws, the seventh edition of the Intellectual Freedom Manual is an invaluable resource for directors, collection development librarians and public services librarians in all types of libraries in the United States. The Manual is also valuable for librarians outside the United States who want to better understand the ALA's current stance on intellectual freedom.
Patricia A. Tully
Associate University Librarian
Balloffet, Nelly, and Hille, Jenny. (2005). Preservation and Conservation for Libraries and Archives. Chicago: American Library Association. 214pp (softbound); 420pp. (hardbound) ISBN: 0-8389-0879-9 $125.00
Developed from a series of short handouts for teaching preservation skills to small institutions, Preservation and Conservation for Libraries and Archives aims to help novices maintain and protect their working collections. Covering an impressive range of material, this compact volume neatly explains best practices regarding both preventive and corrective measures for collections, and manages to provide a wide range of practical advice without assuming an unlimited budget.
The authority behind the text is reassuringly impressive: Nelly Balloffet has worked in book and paper conservation for over thirty years, and Jenny Hille is a book and paper conservator and a library consultant. Both Balloffet and Hille have formal training in conservation in addition to their MLS degrees and have taught numerous workshops on the subject.
The main text of Preservation is split into six sections, each of which has its own table of contents. The sections cover the basics of preservation; getting started; simple preservation techniques; paper conservation techniques; book conservation techniques; and small exhibitions. Each section largely stands on its own, although occasional references to other sections can be found, which means that the necessity of flipping back and forth between sections is minimal. The information provided is detailed and helpful explanations are provided for any cautions or instructions. Five appendixes also feature conservation binders and salvage companies, as well as one on the care of photographs and one on suppliers,.
Throughout Preservation, the emphasis remains solidly on the practical. Both narrative explanations and illustrated “how-to” examples are effective and easy-to-follow. Explanations are clearly worded and free of jargon, and the numerous black-and-white line drawings complement and clarify the accompanying instructions. Given the specificity of the advice provided and the step-by-step nature of the conservation instructions, this book should be used as a reference resource rather than an item to be read through once only. It must be noted, and this is repeatedly emphasized in the text, that the techniques described are not appropriate for rare materials; for such items expert conservators should instead be consulted.
Even for those already familiar with the basics of conservation and preservation work, this book could be useful, but for those new to these areas, Preservation would be an extremely helpful resource. For any and all looking for an authoritative, easy-to-understand resource that focuses on practical everyday assistance, this book is highly recommended.
Liaison Librarian for the Sciences
Robertson, Deborah A. (2005). Cultural Programming for Libraries: Linking Libraries, Communities & Culture. Chicago: American Library Association. 107 pp. ISBN: 0-8389-3551-6. $35.00.
In recent years, a great deal has been written on the library as place, and libraries have begun to re-emphasize their traditional role as centers of learning for their communities, not merely as distributors of information. That role encompasses the presentation of cultural events in the library, and Deborah Robertson’s book provides an excellent and practical introduction to this timely subject.
Deborah A. Robertson established the Public Programs Office of the American Library Association in 1990 and is currently its director. This valuable book was inspired by her work in this office and is addressed to librarians in public, academic, and school libraries who are involved, or are planning to become more involved, in cultural programming. The book will be especially helpful to those librarians who are relatively new to cultural programming, but it also offers ideas which could give new inspiration to librarians who are experienced in this area.
The book is divided into eight chapters. The first chapter discusses the many compelling reasons for undertaking cultural programming in libraries, with particular emphasis on making the case for such programming to library administrations. Subsequent chapters discuss the steps necessary in planning a program and determining a budget, strategies for obtaining funding, finding and hiring presenters, and marketing and public relations. Robertson also discusses the ways in which libraries can enhance their cultural programming through collaboration with one another, as well as with other institutions and groups.
Chapter 5, entitled “Series, Formats, Themes, and Tie-ins,” is especially valuable, in that it offers numerous ideas for programs. Robertson begins this chapter with a discussion of how organizing programs into series based on a format or theme can be helpful in providing focus, increasing audience participation, and building momentum. She continues with descriptions of possible formats, including presentations, lectures, workshops, discussions, performances, and exhibitions, with examples of how particular libraries have implemented each format in successful programs. Also included is a list of broad themes developed by the ALA with suggestions for ways in which these themes can be developed into a series of programs.
An excellent appendix presents ten examples of successful programming undertaken by libraries around the country, including both public and academic libraries. Each example provides important information about the type of program or programs, the presenters, the target audience, marketing and publicity methods, attendance, and budget.
Overall, this book is a valuable guide to libraries as they develop and implement plans for cultural programming.
University of Alabama Libraries
Vardell, Sylvia M. (2006). Poetry Aloud Here! Sharing Poetry with Children in the Library. Chicago: American Library Association. 217pp. ISBN: 0-8389-0916-7. $38.00
In 1970 and 1973, poet Kenneth Koch produced two pioneering books about his experiences teaching poetry to children in the third through sixth grades at PS 61 in New York City. The books were titled, respectively, Wishes, Lies and Dreams: Teaching Children to Write Poetry, and Rose, Where Did You Get That Red? Teaching Great Poetry to Children. For the next 30 years, Koch continued his work in this area by producing other books and anthologies focused on poetry writing and poetry appreciation for both children and adults. One of the great appeals of Koch’s work was his authentic respect for the strength of children’s perception, intelligence, and ability to grasp nuance and subtlety. He taught on the principle that “…[r]estricting children to poems supposed to be on their age- or grade-level deprives them of too many good things. They get more out of genuinely good poems than out of mediocre ones, even if the better poems are difficult in some ways” (Koch, 1973). Accordingly, Koch unhesitatingly immersed his students in the works of poets such as Blake, Donne, Shakespeare, Herrick, Whitman, William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens, and Federico García Lorca. His writing on this subject remains as fresh and innovative in 2007 as it was over thirty years ago.
In the ensuing years, as the comprehensive gathering of resources in Sylvia Vardell’s Poetry Aloud Here! Sharing Poetry with Children in the Library demonstrate, there have been scores of books written about teaching poetry to children, as well as collections of poetry for children in both general anthologies and on specific topics. Vardell is a professor at Texas Women’s University in the School of Library and Information Studies where she specializes in children’s and young adult literature, and Poetry Aloud Here! reflects her years of accumulated experience in the field. Introducing children to poetry and teaching poetry appreciation remains an especially rewarding as well as challenging teaching project. Vardell’s book is particularly valuable as an inclusive resource pulling together a wide variety of sources and listings of thematically-organized materials. This is combined with ideas for creating a physical presence for poetry in classrooms and libraries, presenting a wide range of poetry and poetic forms to children, and encouraging children’s own writing.
Poetry Aloud Here! is divided into six chapters, beginning with “Why Make Poetry a Priority?” to “What Happens After You Share the Poem?” Intervening chapters contain material about everything from “Ways to Teach Kids to Hate Poetry” and “Ways to Encourage Kids to Love Poetry,” to an annotated list of fifty of the most important poets writing for young readers. (For the record, among the ways librarians and teachers can teach kids to hate poetry are to “…tediously analyze the rhyme scheme…[and] discuss a poem until everyone in the class arrives at the same interpretation that you have predetermined”) (Vardell, 12). As an admirer of Koch’s work, I found it encouraging to see Vardell assert at the outset in the section titled “Teaching About Poetry” (Vardell, 11) that children’s initial experiences with poetry should focus on “[enjoying] it for what it is—a unique presentation of timeless and universal topics” (Vardell, 11, citing Korbeck, 1995). Librarians and teachers alike will find particularly useful and thought-provoking the bibliographies connecting works of poetry and other areas of the curriculum. Especially noteworthy, for example, are the lists titled “Ten Poetry Collections for Social Studies Not to Be Missed (108), “Ten Poetry Collections for Mathematics Not to Be Missed (Vardell 110), and “Ten Poetry Collections for Science” (Vardell, 153). Other examples of theme-specific listings of resources are “Pairing Classic and Contemporary Poems: A Sampler” (99) and “Poetry Books that Showcase Fine Art” (157). There are also two appendices, the first titled “Noteworthy Poets Writing for Young People,” which includes website addresses, where available, and the second a substantial bibliography of children’s poetry books. A further section, (titled “References”) following the two appendices, lists “…professional reference tools for the adult who wants to learn more about sharing poetry with children” (Vardell, 207).
The substantial number of resources and ideas contained in Poetry Aloud Here! can require a certain time commitment for the user able and willing to work through and assimilate the many possibilities Vardell presents, but the librarian or teacher who needs to research ideas for an activity or lesson plan quickly can also utilize it as a form of ready-reference for this area. I should add that I think there are many elements in this book that could make it useful for older students, perhaps even those of high-school age. It belongs in the collection of every school librarian, as well as teachers across a range of subjects.
School of Library and Information Studies
University of Alabama
Koch, Kenneth. 1970. Wishes, Lies and Dreams: Teaching Children to Write Poetry. New York: Vintage Books.
________. 1973. Rose, Where Did You Get That Red? Teaching Great Poetry to Children. New York: Vintage Books.
Korbeck, Sharon. 1995. “Children’s Poetry: Journeying Beyond the Road Less Traveled.” School Library Journal 41 (April): 43-44.
Vardell, Sylvia M. (2006). Poetry Aloud Here! Sharing Poetry with Children in the Library. Chicago: American Library Association.
Voorhees, Ellen M. & Harman, Donna K. (Eds.). (2005). TREC: Experiment and Evaluation in Information Retrieval. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. (Digital libraries and electronic publishing series). 462 pp. ISBN 0-262-22073-3. $45.00 cloth.
The Text Retrieval Conference (TREC) is a yearly workshop that is hosted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. TREC created the first large test collections of full-text documents, thus allowing for standardized retrieval evaluation on an immense scale. This project has accelerated the transfer of research ideas into the commercial marketplace, especially in the area of web search engines.
This book provides an extensive review of TREC research since its inception in 1992. There are three major subdivisions of the book. Part 1 is a history of the project, its test collections, and its retrieval methodology. Part 2 are selected “track” reports that describe the evaluation of specific tasks, such as routing and filtering, interactive retrieval, retrieving noisy text, looking at other languages, very large collection retrieval, and question answering. Part 3 is comprised of seven participant reports, ranging from the University of Massachusetts, to Okapi, to SMART, to PIRCS. Multitext experiments, language-modeling, and IBM research activities at TREC are also documented. The book concludes with an epilogue, providing a number of metareflections on the TREC project, and where it will go into the future.
Each chapter has numerous graphs and charts, as well as its own notes and references section. A list of contributors and an index are provided as well. TREC has become the model for many other projects attempting to gauge and experiment with information retrieval; those involved in music information retrieval (MIR) are following a similar model. This book provides an excellent historical and practical background on TREC, along with current experiments and results.
Brad Eden, Ph.D.
Associate University Librarian for Technical Services and Scholarly Communication
University of California, Santa Barbara
The author, Stephen Westman, has written a very useful book that provides a clear start for those librarians who feel daunted by the idea of creating Web sites, let alone those running a database in the background. For those who are looking for an easy read, this book will be hard to follow.
For those with a curiosity on the more technical, meaning programming aspect of Web publishing, the book is easy to follow. Westman writes in a language that is familiar territory for any librarian. He uses examples that show how database-backed Web pages are similar to ILS-generated Web reports--a fresh approach to put any technical librarian at ease. Westman wastes no time in sharing nuggets of information that can be digested at one’s own pace. For effect, he even uses an elaborate food recipe metaphor to explain the concepts even though he has already scaled down the tech jargon significantly. Some of the topics covered in the book include Server-side scripting, relational databases, Structured Query Language (SQL), user authentication, PHP (scripting language), GUI (graphical user interface), XML, among others. Don’t worry, even if you don’t recognize any of these computer terminologies, there’s plenty of discussion and descriptions provided.
Many technical services librarians would appreciate the addition of downloadable files on his accompanying website and a bibliography to expand on topics that the reader might find interesting.
In keeping with his promise to teach the librarian with zero experience in programming languages, he also supplies plenty of screenshots and programming codes that will get your site up and running in no time.
Andrienne Z. Gaerlan
Azusa City Library
Woodward, Jeannette A. (2005). Creating the Customer Driven Library: Building on the Bookstore Model. 256PP. ISBN: 0-8389-0888-8 $38.00
Creating the Customer Driven Library: Building on the Bookstore Model invites us to consider that the quest for knowledge can be a journey into beauty as well as truth. Woodward paints a series of crisp word pictures as she takes the reader along with her to the welcoming cafes, pleasing décor and customer satisfaction commonly associated with the best for-profit booksellers. She laments that traditional library collections may too often neglect these factors, pointing to models for change represented in bricks and mortar (Barnes & Noble) and online (Amazon). Woodward does not shy away from vividly narrating some of her more disheartening, contrasting visits to libraries [Excerpts from Ch. 2, “Comparing Libraries and Bookstores,” p. 17]: “…as you enter through the front door, the smell of dust immediately assails your nostrils.” “If the public areas of the library are dreary, the workrooms and offices are infinitely worse.” “Staff areas are downright appalling, you could almost be in a bombed out city.”
There is much to recommend here. This book probably deserves to be on the required reading list for library professionals redesigning their facilities. Generally supporting the notion of establishing cafes in libraries, Woodward allows for multiple models of café implementation. Yet, some may wonder if her tolerance for outsourcing these operations could lead to unintended library customer service outcomes. More than a few also may cringe at a theme in her conclusion that the libraries of tomorrow can make these various modifications by relying heavily on volunteers [pp. 205-224]. How might this fit with the for-profit bookstore model she champions in other chapters?
Interested in cultivating a field that works toward putting customers first, Woodward shares step-by-step suggestions for effective website design, realistic promotional techniques and skilled operation of what she dubs one’s library “publicity machine” [pp. 175-177]. At times, some institutions looking to her advice may find an ill-fit in the overly linear order of her pronouncements, especially those who attempt to filter them through bureaucracies common in medium to large size library administrations. She does not offer much about how best to execute these recommendations given that fuzzy, intra-organizational lens. One is also curious if she does not too often conflate advocacy of libraries “as a place,” with creation of customer driven culture, no matter where services are found, including the milieu of multiple, library hosted, online databases.
In her well justified call for libraries to change, there may also be too little attention paid to costs associated with implementing new systems. For example, there is abundant thrashing doled out to the beleaguered MARC record as a boogeyman oozing with customer unfriendliness [pp. 68-79]. MARC is hardly a poster child for retaining legacy practices. Yet, importation of newer methods, with the scope required for many libraries, will often incur sizeable expense. This is not limited to MARC alternatives. This costly challenge in moving mid to large size groups toward innovation, or the adoption of new organizational culture, should not be taken lightly. Environments Woodward praises emerge from rather large corporate enterprise. That economy of scale can offer benefits harder to extract from the typical library, which is, even on a large college campus, sometimes operated more akin to a limited partnership, or even like a mom and pop business. Of course, others may succeed in demonstrating that same relatively small scale allows them greater flexibility than their larger, corporate cousins.
If this author’s propositions have weaknesses, these likely relate to overconfidence that zero budget measures and volunteerism can result in an equally reliable customer service experience to one found at the typical Barnes & Noble. Such reliability may require significant capital investment, and some traditionalists will doubtless fear that very same frontline investment will take away from less directly customer targeted, back-office functions. Woodward is eloquent in defending better treatment for highly visible reference and circulation staff, but what does her theme of acting on a zero budget imply for activity like long range collections planning, technology training for staff, back-end web design or a wide range of internal governance matters that often go forward with costs attached, but comparatively invisible to library clientele?
These concerns are not debilitating and usually speak to this book’s strengths as a catalyst. It is a worthy contributor to issues that remain in progress, hot topics begging for additional research and experimentation. (e.g., further analysis of recent discussion about customer relationship management appearing in the trade journals for these bookseller communities Woodward admires).
Woodward’s effort is not a comprehensive literature review nor a formal how-to text in marketing or facilities design, but generally an extended advocacy essay. It is at its best when arguing for new models of design derived from the pleasing aesthetic factors often connected to high quality retailing. Certainly concerned what a failure to change may mean for a profession’s future, Woodward’s ultimate trifecta may be her skillful treatment of these various design innovations, with no pause for the excess of culturally divisive labels that frequently segment library communities into little tribes such as “academic/school,” “special” and “public.” No matter what library culture information professionals inhabit, the message to all at the heart of her heartfelt book is that they look around their environments and, just maybe, wake up and smell the coffee.
Instructional Services Librarian &
Subject Specialist for Public Administration
Syracuse University Library