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  • Higher Education in the Internet Age: Libraries Creating a Strategic Edge
  • Peter Hernon (bio)
Patricia Senn Breivik and E. Gordon Gee. Higher Education in the Internet Age: Libraries Creating a Strategic Edge. Westport, CT: American Council on Education and Praeger, 2006. 340 pp. Cloth: $49.95. ISBN: 0-275-98194-0.

Academic libraries are developing collaborative programs and services with numerous partners both in and outside of their institutional settings. They are forming a cooperative structure and [End Page 328] sharing "space," for instance, with information technology (IT), auxiliary and academic support services, and academic departments.

Such partnerships, combined with the contribution that libraries can make to the quality of learning, research, and service, call for a library director who can, with his or her senior management team, engage effectively in change management and use information and communications technologies to influence library collections, programs, services, and staff roles and responsibilities. Such individuals must be both managers and leaders.

Breivik, who retired as Dean of the University Library at San Jose State University in June 2005, and Gee, the Chancellor of Vanderbilt University, have revisited the topic of their 1989 book, Information Literacy: Revolution in the Library. This time, they examine the impact of the Internet and digital information resources on the changing landscape in which libraries and academic institutions function. This unique pairing of authors, which dates from their time together at the University of Colorado-Boulder, represents an opportunity for upper administration (e.g., president, chancellor, and provost) to see the library as "a major information resource investment" and as "a primary strategic tool in addressing campus priorities" (p. xi). Breivik and Gee add, "At a time of funding scarcity, it would be shortsighted not to take a fresh look at how library resources and services can better contribute to these priorities" (p. xi).

A central theme throughout the 11 chapters is the role that library resources and services can play in student learning and in preparing students for lifelong learning. Together librarians, teaching faculty, and administrators can help mold the information-literate undergraduate—a person who recognizes "when information is needed" and who can "locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information" (p. 38).

The authors do not define learning as "encompassing not only knowledge leading to understanding but also abilities, habits of mind, ways of knowing, attitudes, values, and other dispositions that an institution and its programs and services assert they develop" (Maki, 2004, p. 3). However, such a definition captures what information literacy is trying to achieve—connecting information literacy with critical thinking, problem solving, and lifelong learning. By referencing Developing Research and Communication Skills (2003), they, in effect, offer a blueprint for how to develop the information-literate graduate who can function in an interlinked global information society.

Among assorted other topics the authors cover are changes in scholarly communication; information and knowledge management; application of the triad of teaching, research, and service to academic librarianship; libraries as social centers on campus; the contribution of library collections and services to student recruitment and retention; services to the local community (e.g., business); civic engagement; library funding issues; and how libraries can assist campus administrators in "promoting more effective and productive operations" (p. 119). To support their discussion, the authors offer numerous examples and citations, six commentaries and two short case studies written by academic administrators and program and accreditation officers, and six appendices.

Surprisingly, despite the focus on leadership, the word does not appear in the index nor is there any discussion of leadership theories and styles (e.g., transformational leadership). Assorted traits and abilities have been associated with those theories and styles, one of which is developing and carrying out a shared vision. Leadership and such abilities are only indirectly covered in the list of traits that a library dean needs to possess (p. 240).

Perhaps the weakest chapter addresses "Improving Research Productivity" and the role of librarians in helping to improve the quality of research performed by faculty and students as well as faculty's overall productivity. Information literacy does not address research as an inquiry process. However, with the development of student research outcomes (e.g., investigating claims that proposed...


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