Name an important recent book on academic librarianship
February 5, 2008 5:09 PM   Subscribe

What recent book(s) must my wife read to become better versed in the issues facing academic libraries and librarians today?

She is meeting with M.S.L.S. program coordinators at the end of this month, and while she is confident in her own personal reasons and rationale for applying to librarianship graduate programs, she would feel more confident if she was a little bit better informed about the "bigger picture."
posted by mrmojoflying to Education (9 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
not a book, but she might want to read over the material the Association of College and Research Libraries has up on it's website. This essay might also give her some ideas of what to talk about if she's looking at the reference side of things (accessing from a university computer so I'm hoping you're able to see that second one).
posted by nangua at 6:44 PM on February 5, 2008

I cannot recommend highly enough the ACRL link provided above by nangua.

Among the topics in the list, information literacy keeps coming up again and again with the academic librarians that I talk with. The other biggie is scholarly communication, in relation to library budget, licensing and access issues (Christine Borgman's Scholarship in the Digital Age: Information, Infrastructure, and the Internet is a good book for getting the bigger picture on this topic but probably not expected reading of library school applicants).

Instead of books, I'd recommend your wife browse through recent issues of The Journal of Academic Librarianship and Portal: Libraries and the Academy to get an idea of current topics of interest. She will need access to an academic library to view these journals, either on paper or electronically.
posted by needled at 8:13 PM on February 5, 2008

I'd also check the ACRL blog. Your wife will get farther with big picture issues if she reads up on what academic librarians are up to than if she reads a book that was published even a few years ago. If she wants a really interesting book about where libraries came from that she'll actually enjoy, I'd suggest Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles which is just great though not about academics but library issues generally. Your wife should, in my own opinion only, get up on current awareness stuff including Your wife may need to decide which of these issues she's most interested in, althought probably the people at the school are looking for her ability to think independently about these topics and prioritize the ones she feels most passionate about and take a position. It's less important to have the "right" position than to have one that you've thought out and feel is supportable. It's a really interesting time to be a librarian, wish her good luck for me in any case.
posted by jessamyn at 8:53 PM on February 5, 2008 [2 favorites]

Not book-wise, but if your wife could sneak into a nearby medium/large academic library and spend a few hours observing student behavior and talking to librarians, she may be able to get a better first-hand sense of what's coming down the pipe for academic libraries. Books and the like tend to be just behind the curve of what's going on, so if you want to get a real pulse, you need to get your hands dirty.

Heck, if y'all are near Boston, I'd be glad to show you around my library.

That said, most library school programs seem hungry for new students. So long as your wife can show a fundamental understanding of the changing role of the librarian in an academic setting and can refrain from punching a committee member in the face (surprisingly harder than it looks, judging by a friend's recent MLS program application), she should be fine.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:50 AM on February 6, 2008

Yeah, ditto RIB's sneaking, observing and getting dirty bit. Reading will only get you so far. Talking to librarians is a good idea. If you're in or around Toronto, drop me a line.
posted by the dief at 6:21 AM on February 6, 2008

Not a book, but she should definitely make the Annoyed Librarian blog a must read (I remember seeing somewhere she's actually the most read librarian blog out there). Don't get me wrong, I love librarianship (I'm in a special academic library), but there's a lot of quirks and issues out there that have caught many a library student unawares.

Also, if she's truly interested in academic librarianship, I cannot recommend highly enough securing an internship or having some direct library experience. The market is glutted with newly-minted MLS holders struggling to find jobs, and having actual experience and networking opportunities is crucial. Do *not* believe all this nonsense the ALA puts out about there being a librarian shortage... there's some great opportunities out there, but they often require specialized experience (and/or degrees) and definitely a willingness to move.
posted by dicaxpuella at 9:07 AM on February 6, 2008

Response by poster: Fortunately, my wife has access to an R1 university library though me and is already making use of the resources and taking the advice listed here. She has decided to save $5 for now and has asked me to thank you all for your generous responses and offers.
posted by mrmojoflying at 3:09 PM on February 7, 2008

Response by poster: Update: Taking the good advice of this list about spending time in an academic library, my wife has just accepted a temporary grant funded position in my university library's archives. Thanks again.
posted by mrmojoflying at 10:38 AM on February 15, 2008

posted by jessamyn at 2:21 PM on February 15, 2008

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