The Indispensable Academic Librarian: Teaching and Collaborating for Change. By Michelle Reale. Chicago: ALA, 2018. 128 p. Paper $57.00 (ISBN-13: 978-0-8389-1638-4).

Rumors of the demise of the academic librarian have been greatly exaggerated. As libraries have changed, so, too, have those who teach students and collaborate with faculty to help students learn. It may be that these changes have simply gone unnoticed or unacknowledged. For academic librarians whose work as teachers often goes unseen or underappreciated, this book offers strategies for changing outdated perceptions of what we do. Writing in the first person, Reale provides examples and discusses how the work of academic librarians has value; we are first and foremost teachers but also consultants, liaisons, collaborators, and leaders.

Reale bases the claim of indispensability partly on personal experiences, including stories and anecdotes that illustrate the value of academic librarians’ work. Each chapter offers a different affirmation of the value we add to the library’s services, spaces, and resources. Topics covered include the various ways academic librarians teach, interact with, inspire, challenge, and welcome students inside and outside of the library. As we reflect on our work, we must talk and act among ourselves as essential parts of an institution’s educational mission, and then we must claim our seats at the tables where discussions about student learning are taking place. In order for our value and unique contributions to be acknowledged and drawn upon to their greatest advantage, we must be seen and heard. Each chapter ends with a “Strategies” box that provides a concise summary of some strategies and action items for remaining relevant and indispensable.

The Indispensable Academic Librarian is recommended reading for library school students who are interested in becoming instructional librarians, people who currently work in an academic library, and college and university library administrators who may not be aware of or fully appreciate the essential work performed by these dedicated professionals.—Cheryl McCain, Library Instruction Coordinator, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma


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