The Dysfunctional Library: Challenges and Solutions to Workplace Relationships. By Jo Henry, Jo Eshleman, and Richard Moniz. Chicago: ALA, 2018. 216 p. Paper $59.00 (ISBN 978-0-8389-1623-0).

It is not easy to tackle the issues and address the impact of abnormal or unhealthy interpersonal behaviors and interactions in the workplace. Drawing from literature on dysfunctional organizational cultures and workplaces from the library, management, and organizational development disciplines, Jo Henry, Jo Eshleman, and Richard Moniz approach the subject of the dysfunctional library in a slim volume titled The Dysfunctional Library: Challenges and Solutions to Workplace Relationships.

Addressing the topic from an academic viewpoint and drawing conclusions from available evidence, the first chapter provides an overview of individual traits that contribute to emotional intelligence and outlines the impact of psychological disorders and burnout on professionals. The next chapter shifts the focus to organizational culture, discussing multiple aspects that can lead to dysfunction. The authors cite leading scholars to articulate their premise that learning and the ability to adapt to change are crucial if individuals and organizations are to avoid dysfunction.

Over the next seven chapters, the authors define dysfunctional organizations and discuss the factors that contribute to them. Each of these chapters can stand alone and may serve as a general overview and introduction to specific issues such as incivility, bullying, passive-aggressive behaviors, “cyberloafing,” fraud, sabotage, and bias. Each chapter presents relevant research to help the reader understand the topic and its impact both on the workplace as a whole and on individuals. Within each chapter, the authors seek to present solutions, but this is a bit uneven throughout the volume. The authors end with a thought-provoking chapter on leadership, specifically library leaders and their role in creating dysfunctional—or functional—libraries.

In addition to the research consulted for this book, the authors conducted their own survey of 4,186 library workers because they found that little research had been done on the topic. Some of their research findings are presented throughout the text. More information on the survey and its findings might have made a helpful appendix.

Overall, this book presents a general overview of the topic and does a good job of defining specific behaviors and interactions that contribute to dysfunctional workplaces, provides some examples, and presents relevant supporting research. The book seems incomplete: with a few exceptions, solutions and strategies that might be used to counter dysfunction are lacking or not well presented. In some cases, a solution is presented with little discussion or context, which leaves the reader wanting more. In other cases, the references provided at the end of the chapter offer a more satisfying read and real solutions. The nature of the topic and, at times, the style of writing make for a choppy and difficult read. This volume would have benefited from much tighter editing to eliminate the repetition both within chapters and across the volume. The book tackles an important subject related to library workplaces and provides a good introduction, but it falls short as a true resource offering meaningful solutions.—Pat Hawthorne, Associate Dean for Research and Education, University of Nevada Las Vegas University Libraries, Las Vegas, Nevada


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