Professional Media Reviews, March 1, 2012

Marco, Guy A. The American Public Library Handbook. Libraries Unlimited: ABC-CLIO. 2011. c.585p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781591589105. $75. PRO MEDIA

This reference work is intended as a précis of public libraries in America, and it largely succeeds. Entries are of three types: biographical (76 library leaders, all deceased before 2000), institutional (culled from other resources), and topical. Having these succinct biographical entries in one volume is useful, but the institutional entries are uneven. The profile of the Montclair, NJ, public library, for example, provides detailed information about its role as a model of suburban library service, while Seattle’s entry‚ much shorter‚ barely mentions its controversial central library. However, the real value of this book is in its 65 topical essays, each with sections on terminology, a historical summary, and current issues. Essays on evaluation and research, intellectual freedom, philosophy of public librarianship, readers’ advisory‚ all with fulsome bibliographies‚ provide excellent introductions to their topics. As for noticeable lapses, there is no essay on philanthropy; it isn’t even listed in the index. And while Andrew Carnegie warrants his own brief essay, there is no entry for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. VERDICT Marco (seminar program instructor, Newberry Lib.) is a seasoned professor; LIS students will find this volume‚ especially as an ebook [ISBN 9781591589112]‚ hugely helpful.‚ Brian Kenney, White Plains P.L., NY