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portal: Libraries and the Academy 2.3 (2002) 496-497

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Book Review

Providing Library Services for Distance Education Students

Providing Library Services for Distance Education Students, Carol F. Goodson. (How-To-Do-It Manuals for Librarians, no. 108) New York: Neal-Schuman, 2001. 227 p. $59.95 (ISBN 1-55570-409-3)

As an entry in Neal-Schuman's How-To-Do-It Manuals series, this work does not disappoint. Like other books in the series, this one is full of helpful, concrete information, written in an accessible style, that will help librarians plan and deliver services to distance education students and faculty. Goodson notes in her introduction that she took on a distance learning services position in 1991 with no prior experience or training related to distance education and found little assistance in the literature at that time. Although there are more materials available now (including Wendi Arant and Pixley Mosley's Library Outreach, Partnerships, and Distance Education: Reference Librarians at the Gateway (Haworth Press, 2000), Alexander L. Slade and Marie A. Kascus' Library Services for Open and Distance Learning: The Third Annotated Bibliography (Libraries Unlimited, 2000), and Carolyn Snyder and James Fox's Libraries and Other Academic Support Services for Distance Learning (JAI Press, 1997)), Goodson's ten years of experience will prove useful to those who are beginning to explore or to provide library services for distance education.

The book includes four sections that provide a historical overview of distance learning, information about strategic planning, data from model programs, and a "tool box" of resources, samples, and documents. Those who are new to distance learning, as well as those who are already involved, will appreciate the historical overview, which maps the growth of distance learning around the world and discusses standards for distance education. Goodson specifically focuses on issues related to serving and reaching library users at a distance.

Strategic planning is essential for many programs, and Goodson walks the reader through key questions that will enable educators and librarians to create a plan for distance learning. Goodson devotes lengthy sections to coordinating access services (such as reserves, circulation, document delivery, interlibrary loan, and remote access to resources), marketing the program, providing virtual reference and instruction, and handling legal and ethical issues, particularly copyright. This section includes samples of various request forms and contracts for services.

Goodson provides information about eleven model programs around the world and several virtual universities. The eleven model programs include: Athabasca University, University of Maine, National University, Virginia Polytech, Oregon State University, Valnow: Virtual Academic Library of the Northwest (UK), Central Michigan University, University of South Australia, University of Victoria, University of Sheffield, and Lesley University. Goodson gives brief reviews of the library services websites from these institutions, commenting on user interface and available services. She also profiles several virtual universities, such as The Open University, University of Phoenix, and Nova Southeastern University, with brief histories, statistics about enrollment, degree programs, and a discussion of library services.

The toolbox section provides links to online resources for numerous topics, including accreditation, copyright, instruction, planning, remote access, and standards. Recognizing that printed lists of websites can be cumbersome and quickly outdated, Goodson can be commended for [End Page 496] offering the complete list online < .html>. Users can visit her site to get the current and complete list of online resources. The toolbox also includes a reprint of the Association of College and Research Libraries guidelines for distance learning library services, excerpts from regional accreditation association documents, and many samples of policies, procedural manuals, and forms. The bibliography will also prove useful to those who are introducing or expanding library services to distance learners.


Elizabeth Blakesley Lindsay
University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth



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