REVIEWS: Library and Information Science Research
Electronic Journal ISSN 1058-6768
2007 Volume 17 Issue 2; September
Bi-annual LIBRES17N2 REVIEWS
in this issue:
Bolan, Kimberly, and Cullin, Robert. (2007). Technology Made Simple: An Improvement Guide for Small and Medium Libraries.
Bryan, Cheryl. (2007). Managing Facilities for Results: Optimizing Spaces for Services
Siess, Judith A., and Lorig, Jonathan. (2007). Out Front with Stephen Abram: A Guide for Information Leaders.
Bolan, Kimberly, and Cullin, Robert. (2007). Technology Made Simple: An Improvement Guide for Small and Medium Libraries. Chicago: American Library Association. 250pp. ISBN: 0-8389-0920-5.
You should buy this book—immediately. You may know everything covered in Technology Made Simple: An Improvement Guide for Small and Medium Libraries by Kimberly Bolan and Robert Cullin, but you've never seen it put together in such a logical, straightforward manner. Ms. Bolan is an independent library consultant and trainer, with extensive experience serving small to medium-sized libraries; Mr. Cullin is co-founder of E*vanced Solutions Inc., a software company developing web-based productivity solutions for libraries. With complementing strengths and experiences, the two have produced a work that helps make sense of how to successfully introduce or upgrade the level of technology in use in libraries.
The ten chapters comprising this volume walk the reader through each step necessary for successful implementation of information technology (IT) in a library where technical skills and support is not readily available - from understanding why IT is important to the library to evaluating IT projects.
The book is an essential tool for library directors who need to make changes happen in their libraries. Library directors will appreciate the emphasis on making IT part of every worker's responsibility, not just one person, department, or domain. The authors employ a writing style that the enterprising library director will be able to use to develop persuasive presentations that make the case for investing in new technology.
Chapter 1 (Why do IT?) deals with the role of libraries in a technological world, how to assess the needs of both patrons and staff, and the impact that technology can have on individual libraries.
Chapter 2 (Assess IT) explains the difference between assessment and evaluation. It emphasizes the role of teamwork in planning IT projects and offers ways for identifying a library's stakeholders, inventorying existing technology, the need for "collecting and analyzing data beyond that of traditional statistics," "obtaining input that will best suit your environment," and comparing your library with others. Analyzing the data, summarizing findings, and establishing a timeline for the changes you intend to make in your library's technical environment are important elements of IT project management; Chapter 2 provides a model for each stage along the way.
Chapter 3 (Know IT) describes technology typically present in a library setting and offers the reader ways of determining the "must haves" to keep your library running smoothly and "technology thrillers" that will have your patrons oohing and aahing. The chapter provides guidelines for selecting new technology and how to keep your technology profile "fresh."
Chapter 4 (Plan IT) outlines the essential of planning for IT projects, the "why," "who," and "what" of the process. It reminds the reader to review the library's mission and vision, undertake a needs analysis, and create a plan for the near- and long-term.
Chapter 5 (Staff IT) offers strategies for matching "the right person for the job" by looking within the library's existing staff as well as "hiring talent outside your library." The chapter also addresses the occasions when you might need "consultants and technology service providers" and volunteers.
Chapter 6 (Pay for IT) covers much more than the annual budget. It will help the reader analyze spending patterns, calculate Return-on-Investment, finding funding from outside traditional sources, providing procurement and purchasing advice (including licensing terms), and emphasizing the importance of partnerships and the value of membership in consortiums (sic).
Chapter 7 (Implement IT) focuses on project management; support, maintenance, and troubleshooting technology; marketing; and partnerships.
Chapter 8 (Teach IT) emphasizes the need for training staff and the public, providing useful tips for technology training in terms of content and settings, ideas for online training, and how to evaluate training sessions so that future trainings can be more effective.
Chapter 9 (Regulate IT) deals with the development of IT policies, procedures, and guidelines, as well as how libraries can make people aware of them once enacted.
Chapter 10 (Evaluate IT) helps librarians determine what they should evaluate and provides tools and methods for collecting data and input. More than this, it helps the reader "find undeniable and tangible ways to quantify the impact" of the new technology on the operation of the library and the effect on patrons and usage.
Each chapter concludes with a summary of major points covered (Do you know IT?) and notes with URLs that really work. The figures within each chapter, such as Sample Technology Planning Worksheet (page 68) and Staff Proficiency Comparison Chart (page 80) are nothing that you could not devise on your own, but now there is no need—and you won't have to hunt for any number of sample worksheets, sixteen of which are in Appendix A; job descriptions (Appendix D); or forms that are scattered in appropriate places throughout the work. Acquiring this work for your personal bookshelf will make your life easier and ensure that future IT projects in your library run more smoothly than projects completed to date. Who wouldn't want that?
Barbie E. Keiser
Independent Resources Management Consultant
Bryan, Cheryl. (2007). Managing Facilities for Results: Optimizing Spaces for Services, Chicago: American Library Association. 221pp. ISBN: 10: 0-8389-0934-5 13: 978-0-8389-0934-5 $50.00
Managing Facilities for Results is a well executed, though dense work. Its intent is to provide libraries a structured and organized process to approaching a facility reallocation need. The work includes an introduction, five chapters, three tool kits, 23 workforms (available electronically), and an index. Numerous figures and examples are peppered throughout the work; it also includes a case study to provide a simulated working example of the process. Completed under the direction of the Public Library Association (PLA), it is the seventh in a series of management publications that are being used by libraries around the country. The Results series provides "a fully integrated approach to planning and resource allocation, an approach that is focused on creating change - on results." Managing Facilities for Results is a step-by-step guide, an actual blueprint, for libraries involved in improving their physical facilities. It deserves a special niche on the bookshelf of library managers and other library stakeholders. The work will be of value to academic, public, and special libraries engaged in change efforts. While the tools included in the work are specific to libraries, the process could be employed by other organizations engaged in physical change and the reallocation of space.
The Introduction to Managing Facilities for Results includes information on the Results series, basic concepts, definitions, a guide to how to use the work, a list of 23 workforms, as well as the tasks and steps involved in the process. The process as described by the work's author Cheryl Bryan "is made up of eight tasks, with the steps that must be accomplished to complete those tasks. Tasks are the sequential processes that constitute a project. Steps are the sequential action taken in the performance of a task." The book's five chapters are structured in the form of a project. Chapter 1: Project Definition and Planning starts the work; Chapter 5: Prepare Recommendation and Present Reports concludes the work. The chapters in-between cover committee orientation, data collection organization, resources required and allocated to support the activity, and gap analysis. The heart of this work, what makes it work, is the logical and structured use of 23 workforms that are included to assist in the collection and organization of information. The information gleaned from these workforms provides the basis on which libraries can make informed decisions on behalf of communities.
Chapters begin with a summary of milestones to accomplish and end with key points to remember. A chart at the start of each chapter lists the relevant workforms that support the tasks and steps in that chapter. The chart provides information to help a library determine whether it needs to use a workform or not. All workforms are available for download in Microsoft Word format at http://elearnlibraries.com. Access to the electronic forms allows for easy data entry, for expansion, and when necessary the adaptation of forms to serve local needs. In addition to workforms each chapter has relevant, useful figures such as sample meeting agendas, lists of common facility resources, suggested indicators to measure age and condition of resources, and more. These figures provide useful reminders, consistent definitions, and detailed instructions that allow a library to fully analyze a project, prior to moving to the next step. Of particular value are the three tool kits included at the end of the work. The topics covered are: calculating square footage, assessing your library's physical message, and the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. The tool kits provide access to detailed information about specific issues that have to be considered and evaluated when planning for changes in a library facility.
Projects that involve space reallocations are complex. Yet, Bryan provides a successful and well thought-out model for libraries to follow. This model, like the process, is necessarily detail-oriented. Library projects that consistently and carefully follow the steps and tasks outlined in Managing Facilities for Results will have the data needed to achieve a successful allocation or reallocation of a physical facility to better serve their community. In utilizing this work libraries should keep in mind unique community and facility needs and adapt the process as necessary. Managing Facilities for Results acknowledges the iterative nature of library services, collections, and facilities. The message of this work and all the books in the PLA's Results series is to encourage librarians to "become used to the idea of continually evaluating all of the services and program the library currently provides and all of the policies that support those services in the context of the library's identified priorities - and then be willing to make any changes that are necessary."
Dean, Lupton Library
University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
Siess, Judith A., and Lorig, Jonathan. (2007). Out Front with Stephen Abram: A Guide for Information Leaders. Chicago: American Library Association. 192pp. ISBN: 0-8389-0932-9. $40 ($36 for ALA members).
On a whim, while starting to read Out Front, I looked up Abram's name in Facebook, the online social networking application. True to form, there he was with a few hundred friends. I also found him mentioned by librarians on MySpace, surreptitiously recorded and placed on YouTube, and blogging away at Stephen's Lighthouse. Much of his career has been spent exploring and connecting new technologies and this book is a compilation of his visions for the library world.
The book has four major themes, Advocacy, Technology, Communities and Generations, and The Future, and includes his published articles, speeches, and blog entries within each theme. Occasionally, there is a blog entry about Abram or a re-cap of a speech Abram has given written by another author. On the whole, Abram's writing is clear, informed, imaginative, and fun to read. He discusses topics as diverse as Millennials, palm pilots, OPACs, candle metaphors, third party licenses, knowledge management, the future, and school libraries with equal ease.
As Siess states in the forward, Abram is too busy working, writing, and presenting to compile his own various works, so she did it for him. Therein lies a weakness of the book; I would like to see more comments from Abram prefacing his writings, especially if his perspective has changed with time or experience.
He is definitely inspirational as a writer and a speaker. Some of the passages gave me an emotional rush and made me happy to be a librarian. Abram is a unique figure, a good story-teller, and a dynamic person. His openness to new ideas is what makes him who he is and his willingness to share his ideas allows us to listen. Many of the ideas mentioned in the book you will have heard and might not have realized it was Abram who invented or synthesized them.
Being 'out front' can mean that your ideas are proven over time to be off the mark, but where would we be without someone to spark our imagination? Abram is optimistically out front with insight, wit, and good humor and in his twenty-five years in the library and information science fields, he hasn't been afraid to say something that could turn out to be misguided. Fear of making the wrong choice can be the hardest part of being an early adopter but, lucky for librarianship, Abram isn't afraid to constantly change, adapt, and evolve. He challenges us to inform at a higher level and I enjoy being along for the ride.
University of Pittsburgh