Professional Media Reviews, January 2012

Boule, Michelle. Mob Rule Learning: Camps, Unconferences, and Trashing the Talking Head. CyberAge: Information Today. 2011. c.240p. index. ISBN 9780910965927. pap. $24.95. PRO MEDIA

Classes for professional development are often too expensive and not timely enough for professionals in technology-heavy fields, and thus the unconference model is an attractive alternative. Librarian and consultant Boule argues persuasively for this kind of participant-centered learning. Her book is divided into two parts, the first devoted to camps and unconferences and the second to classes and other training. Both include the drawbacks of the traditional model and the advantages of participant-led learning, tips for organizing these experiences, and several case studies, most taken from the technology sector or librarianship. Boule illustrates how participants can use technology to organize, conduct, and document their learning events. VERDICT Though her arguments are often repetitive, Boule successfully demonstrates how professionals can educate themselves and share their collective knowledge in meaningful ways. A quick read on a timely topic, her book will be of interest to anyone who plans professional education. Readers looking for a step-by-step guide to organizing a library unconference should also consider Steve Lawson’s Library Camps and Unconferences. Janet A. Crum, City of Hope Lib., Duarte, CA

Carr, David. Open Conversations: Public Learning in Libraries and Museums. Libraries Unlimited: ABC-CLIO. 2011. 160p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781591587712. pap. $45. PRO MEDIA

This is Carr’s (Sch. of Information & Library Science, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) third collection of essays, consisting of previously published materials and lectures. He challenges library and museum professionals to view their institutions in a different light. Rather than considering themselves simply as destinations, libraries and museums should view themselves as having the power to affect personal, social, and cultural change, as centers to promote learning through group activities, e.g., viewing/studying the past for better understanding of current lives and social conditions, while providing materials and experiences to help people grow independently. Carr discusses in detail reading groups and organized conversations, among other examples, and offers explanations of how to conduct these programs. He recommends books, periodicals, and websites to get things started. VERDICT Carr’s thoughts about libraries and museums in the cultural landscape will provide professionals a new way of viewing their institutions. This book will be useful in library school classroom discussions and by professionals who want to broaden the focus and direction of their institutions.‚ Marie Bruni, Huntington Memorial Lib., Oneonta, NY

Farmer, Lesley S.J. Instructional Design for Librarians and Information Professionals. Neal-Schuman. 2011. 200p. index. ISBN 9781555707361. pap. $80. PRO MEDIA

The checklist of core competencies needed for effective library instruction may seem daunting to those entering the field without a background in education. Prolific author Farmer (librarianship, California State Univ., Long Beach; Teen Girls and Technology: What’s the Problem, What’s the Solution?) offers a systematic approach to the various instructional design components relevant to providing effective instructional service for various library audiences. Chapters on learning theory, needs assessment, curricular design, instructional logistics, staff training, technology, and marketing are addressed, along with other managerial issues that support a successful instructional program. User-friendly charts and lists of online resources and other references accompany each chapter. VERDICT Succinct and practical, this could compete with Char Booth’s Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning ($55) and Rita C. Richey and others’ The Instructional Design Knowledge Base ($44.95) as a textbook and a resource for current practitioners; however, its price may be beyond the budget of candidates entering the job market and many libraries’ professional collections.‚ Betty Glass, Univ. of Nevada‚ Reno Lib.

How To Thrive as a Solo Librarian. Scarecrow. 2011. 314p. ed. by Carol Smallwood & Melissa J. Clapp. index. ISBN 9780810882133. pap. $45. PRO MEDIA

Smallwood (editor, Librarians as Community Partners), a veteran of public library administration, here oversees another practical book for librarians in the field. With Clapp (Humanities & Social Sciences Lib. West, Univ. of Florida), she presents a collection of pieces by various practitioners who must do it all. The contributed chapters cover time management, community involvement, public relations and marketing, professional development, administrative tasks, and assessing and weeding collections. As with any collection by multiple authors, the work is at times informative and practical and at other times dated and less useful; for example, a whole section dedicated to Internet-based ideas describes specific software and programs, but general guidance would not have become dated so soon. VERDICT Intended primarily for special librarians, who often function alone, and very small public libraries, this is not a necessary purchase for school and college librarians.‚ J. Sara Paulk, Wythe‚ Grayson Regional Lib., Independence, VA

Wiegand, Wayne A. Main Street Public Library: Community Places and Reading Spaces in the Rural Heartland, 1876‚ 1956. Univ. of Iowa. (Iowa and the Midwest Experience). 2011. 260p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781609380670.
pap. $25.95. PRO MEDIA

Political intrigue, funding woes, board-driven collection decisions, librarians doing janitorial duties. Sounds like today, but these same concerns were the daily bread of libraries and library staff in Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, and Iowa in the first half of the last century. Library historian Wiegand (F. William Summers Professor of Library & Information Studies Emeritus, SLIS, Florida State Univ.) takes us to a pre-Internet and precomputer way of providing library services. While some of today’s librarians may pine for the old days, Wiegand dissuades us from doing so. One public library managed to fill its librarian position only after 48 tries by the city council. Another hoped that by naming itself after William Cullen Bryant it would get a donation from him; instead, it received a signed book of poems. Despite the best efforts of library associations and professionals to promote good reading, then as now, popular fiction drove circulation and usage. VERDICT An insightful, often highly detailed look at a sliver of our library past. Recommended for readers of library history and reading patterns.‚ J. Sara Paulk, Wythe‚ Grayson Regional Lib., Independence, VA