of The Portable MLIS: Insights from the Experts.
By Ken Haycock and Brooke E. Sheldon,
eds. Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited, 2008. $50.00 (ISBN-13:
978-1-59158-547-3). Available in paperback only.
by Michael F. Bemis (info)
So you think you might like to become a librarian?"
(p. 65). While serving as an opening chapter on library management,
this query could do double-duty, with a slight change in punctuation,
as a statement of the overall theme of the book itself. Editors
Haycock and Sheldon essentially say as much in their Preface, wherein
they state, "...this work is designed to be accessible, comprehensive,
and useful as an introduction to the work of the professional librarian"
(p. ix). They add that this goal is to be met by the cadre of contributors
touching upon "the knowledge, skills and abilities" that
the modern day information professional is expected to possess,
as well as exposing the reader to "...current and emerging
applications and trends and issues (ibid.).
The writers as a whole have done a commendable job
in achieving their purpose. Those already in the field will immediately
recognize most of the names, as they have well established reputations.
Michael Gorman, for example, is a past President of the American
Library Association, while Richard E. Rubin is the author of a standard
textbook, Foundations of Library and Information Science, now it
its second edition.
The material presented is divided into three broad
categories. "Part I: Foundations, Values and Context"
contains chapters on the history of librarianship, the ethical underpinnings
of the profession and the multitude of roles one has the opportunity
"Part II: Functions and Competencies" takes
a look at the nuts and bolts of this career choice. Not surprisingly,
this entails reference work, marketing, management, reader's advisory
and other traditional aspects of what we do.
"Part III: Moving Beyond Boundaries" peers
into our collective crystal ball in an attempt to discern what the
future holds. The emphasis here is on the already apparent drift
of events, such as the ever increasing interconnectedness of people
and places, i.e., the proverbial "global village,": the
library as both literal community center and virtual resource treasure
trove, the ongoing evolution what we do and how we do it (read:
less face-to-face contact with patrons, more techno-toys) and lastly,
issues of LIS education, such as the sometimes considerable gulf
between theory and practice (hint: what we are taught is how to
conduct a reference interview, what we experience are people whining
about the laptop computers they drag in).
Rounding out the text is a very helpful set of appendices
- an even dozen - containing various resolutions and declarations
of professional associations (code of ethics, library bill of rights,
etc.), a section of citations to literature referenced in the individual
chapters, an index and an editors/contributors list containing biographical
sketches of each writer whose work appears in this title.
With a minimum of jargon and a maximum of topics,
this book provides an excellent overview of librarianship as we
find in it in the early days of the twenty-first century. Anyone
contemplating this most contemplative of vocations would do well
to spend time with The Portable MLIS before striking out for the
other MLIS they can hang on their wall.