Monday, June 12, 2006

Booknote: The Successful Academic Librarian

Title: The Successful Academic Librarian: Winning Strategies from Library Leaders
Editor: Gwen Meyer Gregory
Publication Information: Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc., 2005
231 pages, including an annotated bibliography and an index
Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: Career guidance, librarianship, library science

If you read one book on academic librarianship, make sure it is this one. Meyer Gregory has put together a collection of writings on academic librarianship that any library school student considering the academic track should read. If there is a class on academic librarianship, this should be the textbook. However, this book is not only for the future academic librarian. It has a lot to say to those who are starting out in the field as well as those who have been in it for a while or are considering a move in that direction.

The book is divided into three parts. Part one looks at the basics. Here we find advice on job issues, the activities of an academic librarian, and faculty status. Part two looks at how to get and keep the job with tips on job interviews and mentors. Part three features some narratives from experienced librarians. On that part, I found Chapter 13, written by Molly E. Molloy, to be the most useful to me.

The tone of the book is simple and straightforward. It addresses well the issues that academic librarians face if they are on a tenure track, things that I have pondered about before and that I think library schools are not telling their students. So, since library school won't always tell you how to cope with the "publish or perish" approach, get the facts here. The book also has chapters on libraries and unions and even a chapter looking at Canadian libraries. I can see the editor did a good job at being comprehensive. It is kind of like "here is everything you need to know if you choose this to be your career path in librarianship." The book's various charts and tables are also helpful for quick reminders and ideas. I am not one to buy many LIS books, but I would definitely get a copy of this for myself at some point. In a way, the book makes me glad I am not on a tenure clock. It is a dog-eat-dog world in that realm; I know, I used to aspire to that and got exposed to it in my previous life. However, the book can provide reassurance to those who may be a bit anxious about the process; it can be achieved, but it does require good planning and discipline to do it. Overall, I highly recommend the book for anyone who is considering a career as an academic librarian as well as for those just starting out.


Gwen Gregory said...

Thanks for the great review. I am hoping that many people find The Successful Academic Librarian helpful, because that's why I put it together, not to gain glory or tenure for myself (at my current job we don't have faculty status or anything comparable). I really wanted to ease the lives and careers of my colleagues, while giving many excellent librarians the chance to share their knowledge and experiences.
- Gwen

molly molloy said...

Molly Molloy here, author of chapter 13 in the Successful Academic Librarian. I'm glad you enjoyed it and
thanks for reviewing our book. I'd be curious about what specifically you found appealing or useful about that chapter? Thanks again. molly