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Rethinking Information Work: A Career Guide for Librarians and Other Information Professionals

Rethinking Information Work: A Career Guide for Librarians and Other Information Professionals
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  Out Front with Stephen Abram: A Guide for InformationLeaders , by Stephen Abram, compiled by Judith A. Siess andJonathan Lsrc. Chicago: American Library Association, 2007.204 p. $40. ISBN 13 978-0-8389-0932-4. LC 2006031410.Meet Stephen Abram-former President of the CanadianLibrary Association, advocate of cutting-edge informationtechnology, early proponent of Library 2.0, outspoken defender of the millennial generation’s new-style multitasking, and oneof North America’s foremost library conference speakers. Asearly as 2002,  Library Journal   named Abrams as one of its topfifty important library movers and shakers. The book’scompilers, Judith A. Seiss and Jonathan Lsrc, consider himone of the most outstanding library leaders in today’s fast-moving, paradigm-shifting library environment. In their view,he is the man, the person we should all be listening to andreading–the best voice out there to help librarians understandwhere they are, who they are, and what they are facing in theyears ahead. Out Front with Stephen Abram  compiles the best of Abram’sarticles and lecture notes. The volume divides his writings intofour sections: advocacy, technology, generations, and the future.The sections feature Abram in a variety of formats. He lecturesat conferences, sounds off on his blog, the  Lighthouse , writes peer-reviewed journal articles, and addresses library associa-tions of various sorts.Of course, Abram is at his best discussing technology anddelineating the new generation-what Abram and others havelabeled the New Millennials. He wants to see librarians reckonwith this new generation and the newfangled era in which theylive, to celebrate its diversity, connectivity, and exuberance.Where some fear that today’s students read too little andunderstand less, Abram praises the new generation’s multi-tasking and technical savvy. ‘‘They can think rings around us,’’he says. Where others see continuity in the human experience between generations, Abram sees divergence. Dylan said it all.‘‘The times are a-changin’.’’ Where others worry about thedangers of technology, Abram marvels at its transforming power. For him technology liberates.So there you have him–Abrams out front talking about technology and the new approaches to learning, all the whiletaking on slothful librarians and backward-looking biblio- philes. The man has little patience with those whose values or  perspectives are wedded to the past. He revels in what liesahead. He has yet to meet a digital technology he does not like.All in all, the slender volume has the virtue of distillingAbram,andIamthankfulthatthecompilershavepulledtogether such an interesting assortment of his writings. The volume’sflaws are at worst, only minor. The editors wisely include a biography of Abrams, but it should have been longer and moredetailed. Their cryptic sketch only leaves the reader yearning for more. The compilers’ chapter introductions also tend to be a bit hagiographic. Judith Siess and Jonathan Lsrc are certainly right about Abram’s brilliance. He is a significant library figure, but that is a conclusion they should have allowed their readers todraw.Putting such quibbles aside, however, there is no gainsayingthe book’s value as a solid introduction and a first-rate primer for this jet-hopping conference speaker and leading libraryfigure. Fun to read, entertaining, loaded with insight,  Upfront with Stephen Abram , has a lot to offer. It is almost like beingthere. The book is the next best thing to listening to Abram in person or to perusing his Web blog.  —Steve McKinzie,Library Director, Catawba College, Salisbury, NC 28147 b N . doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2007.07.004 Rethinking Information Work: A Career Guide for Librar-ians and Other Information Professionals , by G. Kim Dority.Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2006. 222 p. $38. ISBN 1-59158-180-X.G. Kim Dority, an adjunct faculty member of the Universityof Denver graduate program in Library and Information Scienceat the Morgridge School of Education, teaches courses inInformation Entrepreneurship and Career Alternatives for Library Science Students and Professionals. This work,chock-full of inspirational content and presented succinctly ina go-getting, no-nonsense style, was crafted from her prepara-tion and experiences with these courses, particularly the latter,Career Alternatives, course. The ample references are indeedworth noting and include standards from the LIS field (e.g.,SLA’s 2003 C ompetencies For Information Professionals of the21  st  Century ) as well as an astonishing number of titles from theoutside (e.g., University of Chicago Psychologist’s MikalyCsikszentmihalyi’s work on creativity, Daniel Goleman’s work on emotional intelligence, or Oprah’s featured columnist, lifecoach Martha Beck’s work). Geared toward new recruits andseasoned practitioners alike, Dority’s book succeeds in provid-ing a framework to enable all library professionals to craft acareer plan that maximizes their ‘‘employability’’ (see defini-tion, p. 4) and gives flexibility to withstand continuous changesin the workplace. As Dority elaborates ‘‘The goal is to design acareer flexible enough that it can grow  with  you, rather than keep  you from growing (p. 81).’’Reflecting the search process from start to finish, the book isnicely divided into ten chapters (Rethinking Information Work,Self-Knowledge: Your Career Starting Point, The TraditionalPath, the Nontraditional Path, The Independent Path, CreatingYour Professional Portfolio, Growing Your Career, Thriving onChange, Creating Your Career Map, and Taking Charge of Your Career) that outline the content of the book. Withseemingly boundless enthusiasm for her topic, Dority begins by stressing self-knowledge and, to that end, advocates a battery of possibilities for self-exploration including person-ality testing (through the Myers-Briggs), interviewing estab-lished professionals in the field, and keeping a career journal.Dority’s definition of information work is categorized intothree areas or paths: the traditional path (in public, school,academic or special libraries), the nontraditional path (as anembedded knowledge worker in a corporation or nonprofit),and the independent path (as a self-employed entrepreneur)exploring the merits and drawbacks of each. While imploringreaders to always consider what value they bring to anyenterprise, in succeeding chapters Dority models strong‘‘action’’ verbs throughout the book in creating a portfolio(instead of a conventional resume), growing a career, thrivingon change, creating a career map, and simply taking charge.According to Dority, this entails developing confidence inone’s skills. She writes, ‘‘Traditionally, the LIS  d acculturation September 2007  613   process T  has rarely included assertiveness training, self-esteemstrengthening, confidence building, or risk-taking among its professional development priorities (p. 124).’’Readers should note that Dority’s emphasis on employ-ability and her resilient optimism flies in the face of aconventional wisdom that has dictated huge barriers for  professional who wish to change jobs between the traditional paths (let alone the nontraditional or independent). Perhaps thetimes are changing. Dority’s book is not rehabilitation for thesour, the cynical, or the hopeless and readers will find nosoothing or stroking for excuses or bad breaks here. Profes-sionals with looming employment issues are better served withMontgomery and Cook’s  Conflict Management for Libraries (ALA, 2005); younger professionals also will want to consult Gordon’s  The NextGen Librarian’s Survival Guide  (Informa-tion Today, 2006) in addition to this work.  Rethinking  Information Work   is highly recommended for all relevant collections and all professionals seeking employment intoday’s workplaces.  —Christy Zlatos, Manager, Hollandand Terrell Reference Services, Terrell Library Room120L, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman,WA 99164-5610  b N . doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2007.07.005 Teaching Information Literacy Skills to Social SciencesStudents and Practitioners: A Casebook of Applications ,edited by Douglas Cook and Natasha Cooper. Chicago:American Library Association, 2006. 277 p. $39. ISBN 0-8389-8389-8.A plethora of example assignments, lesson plans, and courseoutlines exists within the research of librarianship. That said, acompilation of thorough cases is always an important contribution to the body of literature. A revisited and revisedversion of the 1995 edition,  Teaching Information LiteracySkills  goes beyond instruction for education students to includea variety of social science disciplines. This collection evenmakes a move beyond text-based information literacy instruc-tion, making this an innovative and well-designed casebook from a variety of qualified contributors.This edition’s uniform style and structure help readers tocompare and contrast individual lessons included throughout the book. Even though it appears that a user would most likelyconsult individual chapters that pertained to their own duties inlibrarianship, it would do instruction librarians good to readthrough all of the lessons to see the variety and experience ineach. It should be noted that these chapters are truly more thanindividual lesson plans of the individual instruction sessions.The authors include honest reflections on what worked andwhat did not, while also offering ways to advance or improvethe instruction in the future. It was especially promising to seeso many of the information literacy instructional designsinclude more than one fifty-minute session with students. Allof these cases demonstrated strong collaborations betweenteaching faculty and librarians, as well as intensive planning.As part of the book’s standardized organization, each lessonis correlated to specific objectives within the ACRL Informa-tion Literacy Standards to provide a framework for instruction.Each chapter includes an ‘‘Analysis of the Learning Situation’’where one can find descriptions of teaching facilities and notesabout individual campuses. Many of the cases include specifickinds of technology used during instruction and detailed activelearning exercises for adaptation in other settings. While most of the courses targeted in this monograph include those youwould expect in a work dedicated to the social sciences (likecommunications, education, and psychology), audiences arenot limited to undergraduates. Some lessons detail collabo-rative work geared to more diverse learning populations, suchas graduate students, international students, distance educationstudents, and teacher candidates. It should be noted as well that this book includes lessons that address information literacy beyond a text-based learning environment, including a well-defined lesson on visual literacy and one that focuses on dataliteracy.As a whole,  Teaching Information Literacy Skills  provides avariety of opportunities for those in the social sciences and beyond. It will also be useful for those in other disciplines as both a way to generate new ideas in your teaching,collaborations with faculty, and formats to facilitate instructiondesign. Within the information literacy instruction literature,this is a welcome addition and likely to encourage imitators of equal competence, clarity, and comprehensiveness.  —MichelleS. Millet, Information Literacy Coordinator, CoatesLibrary, Trinity University, One Trinity Place, San Anto-nio, TX, 78212-7200  b N . doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2007.07.006 The Twelfth Off-Campus Library Services ConferenceProceedings , edited by Julie Garrison. Binghamton, NY: TheHaworth Information Press, 2007. 593 p. $90.00. ISBN 978-0-7890-3477-9.Co-sponsored by Central Michigan University (CMU) Off-Campus Library Services and CMU Off-Campus Programs, the biennial Off-Campus Library Services Conferences offer peer-reviewed presentations related to the provision of libraryservices for remote users.  The Twelfth Off-Campus LibraryServices Conference Proceedings  is a compilation of papers that were presented at the 12th biennial conference in Savannah,Georgia in April 2006.The 12th OCLS Conference presentations consists of 28Contributed Papers, three Contributed Workshops, and eight Contributed Electronic Posters. Articles within each section arearranged alphabetically by author. In addition, there is aContributor Index and a general Index.The documents in the Contributed Papers section cover topics of interest to academic librarians who provide services toremote users in a variety of learning environments, includingonline instruction, hybrid courses, off-site classrooms, and branch campuses. Most of the examples are from library ser-vices in the United States, but there is some representation fromCanada and the West Indies.Many of the articles deal with utilizing technology to serveoff-campus users. These range from Web site evaluation, blog-ging, orientation CD’s, course management software, the needfor e-books to downloadable resources for handheld devices.Consistent with past volumes of OCLS Conference Proceed-ings, many of the articles treat important topics of discussion in 614  The Journal of Academic Librarianship
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