lrts: Vol. 54 Issue 1: p. 55
Book Review: The Academic Library Manager�s Forms, Policies, and Procedures Handbook with CD-ROM
Edward Swanson, Ruth A. Zietlow

Ruth A. Zietlow, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota;

This text, a collection of more than six hundred policies, forms, and procedures selected by Rebecca Brumley, serves as a convenient single source for high-quality policies on every topic an academic library may need to address. The table of contents lists forty-four chapters organized into twelve parts and could serve as a policy checklist for many libraries.

It is interesting to compare well-written policies so easily. While length and detail will vary, key words and concepts do start to emerge for these comparisons, making this book potentially useful for library administrators, policy committees, and library management instructors.

The author has worked in both academic and public libraries, and has published a similar text for public libraries. Brumley recognizes that academic libraries work with many different groups of patrons, including students, faculty, community members, alumni, and others, and thus she provides examples of policy variations for working with patrons who have different academic needs.

For more unusual policy statements, like “Sleeping in the Library during Finals,” only one example may be given. For the more common policies found in academic libraries, like “Scope of Collection,” there may be several policy examples ranging from small community colleges to large research libraries. However, the author does not share what criteria she used in making her selections for inclusion in the text. Sharing the criteria, or perhaps a discussion introducing each chapter and a summary of the author’s selection process, would have helped this text considerably.

The index, although well laid out, could have benefited by more thorough proofreading. For example, under “Dissertations,” it lists the “Collection Development” example to be found on page 117, when the entry actually begins on page 118. The entry on binding dissertations is not found in the index at all.

A stronger index could also have helped with the problems of related topics that are physically separated from each other in the book and may benefit from comparison. For example, there is a sentence with tax advice in the in-kind gifts policy that may be of interest to the reader of the tax deductions policy, which is several pages earlier in the text. Not only are the policies separated physically, but also, unfortunately, the tax deductions comment mentioned in “In-Kind Gifts” is not reflected in the index.

Although there is no advice for approaching the policy-writing process itself, this resource nonetheless provides a CD-ROM that makes available PDFs of all six hundred policies, forms, and procedures published in the text. The CD-ROM also provides additional policies not published in the book.

Early in the preface, the author indicates that the reader may “easily download the complete text or form from the companion CD-ROM … to adapt for your own use” (page xix). Later, also in the preface, it is stated that “these documents can be downloaded into Microsoft Word and altered to fit your library’s requirements, or even used as is. The electronic documents are a vital time-saver for managers updating a manual or creating a set of policies from scratch” (page xx). I was struck by the author’s generous tone while at the same time finding on the CD-ROM a Neal-Schuman copyright notice stating that “reproduction of this book, in whole or in part, without written permission of the publisher, is prohibited.” I decided to explore this contradiction a bit to see how much security the publisher put on the PDFs and was pleased to find that there was no restriction to downloading or copying from the PDF using either Adobe Acrobat Reader or Adobe Professional.

There is concern for how quickly some of the policies may become dated. While mission and vision statements may be stable over time, some policies may change in just a few years in response to changes in the tax code or, as another example, changes in societal conventions regarding cell phone use.

Additionally, there is an appendix: “Web Sites of Contributing Libraries.” It is not clear exactly what rights have been shared from each school with the author. However, school policy and copyright dates are given in this appendix as well as some URLs. It would have been more valuable to have the policy and copyright dates associated with the text of its specific policy rather than having them separated and aggregated with other schools’ date information in the back.

With so many policies now available online, the convenience of comparison and scope of topics are the strengths of this book. Neal-Schuman’s copyright statement, however, diminishes its value to its intended audience—busy librarians.

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