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portal: Libraries and the Academy 2.2 (2002) 341-342

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Book Review

Staff Development:
A Practical Guide

Staff Development: A Practical Guide, ed. Elizabeth Fuseler Avery, Terry Dahlin, and Deborah A. Carver. 3d ed. Chicago: American Library Association, 2001. 194 p. $40 (ISBN 0-8389-0801-2)

Libraries find themselves in a rapidly changing world. The only constant is the knowledge that the profession is undergoing a transition that presents any number of possible futures. A focused and continually evolving staff development program will assist in preparing staff to reposition themselves as change occurs, cope with and embrace change through learning, and prompt the seeking of new opportunities. Compiled by the Staff Development Committee of the Library Administration and Management Association (LAMA), this updated edition presents a practical staff development guidebook through the collective expertise of many well-known trainers, such as Joan Giesecke, Kathryn Deiss, and Julie Todaro who provide concisely written short chapters on specific issues.

Building upon the success of earlier contributors, editors Elizabeth Fuseler Avery, director of library services at Western State College of Colorado; Deborah A. Carver, University of Oregon; and Terry Dahlin, staff development officer in the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University, have organized a well-structured framework for staff development. An excellent model, the framework first includes a theoretical context and then provides 'how to' information on everything needed for creating a staff development program from start to finish, including how to develop staff, train the trainer, design instruction, and conduct an evaluation. The new edition builds upon the previous by incorporating new ideas and emerging fields. Fourteen new chapters [End Page 341] cover such topics as competencies, orientation, diversity, mentoring, coaching, technical training, team building, and online tutorials. Step-by-step guidelines are further developed through case studies, needs assessments and online tutorials, checklists, and definitions of core competencies. Seasoned pros as well as newbies will find useful information that can be incorporated into new or existing programs. After a comfortable read from front to back, trainers and developers will want to keep this title near at hand to pinpoint needed information or to refresh knowledge of specific topics. Additional helpful titles include: Developing Library Staff for the 21st Century (Haworth, 1999)by Maureen Sullivan; Achieving Change Through Training and Development (Library Association Pub., 1998) by June Whetherly; and Putting Service into Library Staff Training (American Library Association, 1994) by Joanne M. Bessler. Whetherly and Bessler further develop concepts presented in this guide regarding organizational development and the creation of the library as a marketing organization.

The editors point out that technology and management theories continue to evolve at a rapid pace and that LAMA's programs and pre-conferences supplement and enlarge the ideas presented in the guide, filling in areas of emerging fields that were not covered. In anticipation of these sessions and the next edition, suggested topics include virtual conferencing, creation of Web-based learning models, training across disciplines and generations, and the use of virtual case studies for collaborative problem solving. Since training and staff development continually evolve, a well-developed bibliography on "learning more and keeping up" for trainers is included and provides a wealth of updated information sources. Recommended reading to stay on the cutting edge include: Beyond the Podium: Delivering Training Performance to a Digital World (Jossey-Bass, 2001) by Allison Rossett & Kendra Sheldon; Working Virtually: Managing People for Successful Virtual Teams and Organizations (Stylus, 2001) by Trina Hoefling; and The Knowledge Web: Learning and Collaborating on the Net (Stylus, 1998) by Marc Eisenstadt & Tom Vincent. The latter two titles discuss virtual work and collaboration including the issues of distance learning, virtual conferencing, communicating online/virtual dialogue, and knowledge modeling.

Enhancing the wealth of intellectual capital already present among us will be paramount in realizing the full potential of our profession as we evaluate our new roles and position in the Information Age. This title is recommended for libraries of all types and all levels of staff and is a must read for every administrator, trainer, and staff developer responsible for implementing...


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