The Heart of Librarianship: Attentive, Positive, and Purposeful Change. By Michael Stephens. Chicago: ALA, 2016. 158 p. Paper $48 (9780838914540).

Having worked in libraries since her undergraduate days, this reviewer found that reading The Heart of Librarianship as she approached her fiftieth birthday helped rekindle some professional fires that may have begun to do more smoldering than burning. This small volume focuses on the importance of learning, teaching, and fostering the skills needed to meet the ever-evolving needs of library patrons.

The words and concepts that seemed most significant in this book are chaos, playtime, and visibility. Stephens correctly asserts that visibility is and will continue to be a key to a library’s success within its community, and that we can longer wait behind our information desks for patrons to come to us. We need to change our roles to join patrons where and how they are working. We also should encourage and enable staff to take playtime to explore new technologies, and we must connect with colleagues not just at conferences but via blogs, libchats, and MOOCS. In one essay, Stephens outlines the notion of “embracing chaos,” which is really another way of encouraging library staff to remain ready and willing develop new services and try new approaches to problem solving.

In one of the book’s last essays, “Lessons from the #hyperlibMOOC,” Stephens outlines the roles identified for librarians by students who participated in Hyperlinked Library, a MOOC offered at Stephens’ institution, the School of Information at San Jose State University. These roles included “Guide,” “[Open] Access Provider,” “Creator,” and “Instructor.” These roles are reflected in his essay “Listening to Student Voices” and in the book’s overall call to engage with our library patrons and listen actively to their voices to ensure that our profession’s voice evolves with the needs of the communities we serve.

Previously published in Library Journal, the essays in this book flow well together and are united in their focus on transformations in the library profession, were previously published in Library Journal. They are organized under section headings in the table of contents; specific topics and authors can also be searched in the index, and a bibliography is included. I would recommend this book to both new and experienced library staff as an easy read that nonetheless provides a lot of food for thought and ideas to incorporate in our own professional practice.—Laura Graveline, Visual Arts Librarian, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire


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