rusq: Vol. 52 Issue 3: p. 258
Sources: Small Public Library Management
Dana M. Lucisano

Reference Librarian, Silas Bronson Library, Waterbury, Connecticut

Comprehensive and entertaining, but ultimately rather superfluous—in a nutshell, this describes this new title in the ALA Fundamentals series. To begin with, the title of the book is misleading. When most people think of a “small public library,” the image that comes to mind is a shoestring operation in a rural area, where the director is often the only full-time professional staff member. The challenges of running this type of library are significantly unique to warrant a management handbook just on that topic. However, this book reads more like a manual about life in suburbia. For advice on running a truly small library, a better option is Herbert B. Landau’s The Small Public Library Survival Guide: Thriving on Less (ALA, 2008).

The excellent organization of this book makes it easy for the reader to delve in at any point of need, whether the task is preparing one’s first budget, hiring staff, or weeding the collection. Visually, there is a suitable mix of bulleted lists, pictures, and tables. The boxes labeled “tales from the field” are particularly useful, as they provide concrete details about of how specific libraries have risen to the occasion to meet specific needs. However, the authors might have worked a little harder to make their examples more geographically diverse, instead of drawing almost exclusively on Wisconsin’s public libraries. The tone of the book is down-to-earth, as though the library director settled the reader into an armchair in her office the day before she retired to tell the reader everything he needed to know to fill her shoes. The problem is that, because she could only spare an hour, she covered everything superficially. Landau’s 2008 book, on the other hand, is much more original. However, this book might be helpful as a starting point. Another good choice for an up-and-coming “small” library manager is Wayne Disher’s Crash Course in Public Library Administration (Libraries Unlimited, 2010), which meets library managers’ need to grasp basic principles of public administration that are not taught in library school.

This book is an optional purchase for academic libraries supporting LIS programs and for librarians stepping into management roles.

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