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Reviewed by:
  • Academic Librarianship
  • Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Academic Librarianship, G. Edward Evans and Camila A. Alire. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2010. 383p. $65 (ISBN 978-1-55570-702-6)

This is a significant textbook on academic librarianship written by two notable library directors and deans who have also instructed classes. Dr. Camila Alire served as dean at the University of New Mexico and Colorado State University and as president of the American Library Association. She has co-authored books on library service to Latino communities and disaster planning and recovery. Dr. G. Edward Evans experienced a 50-year career in academic librarianship in both public and private institutions. He has eight books in print on a broad range of library topics.

Academic Librarianship is divided into four major sections: Background and Historical Context, Higher Education Today, Campus and Library Commonalities, and The Academic Library Today. The authors have succeeded in weaving history and future trends into the entire text so that we see our profession as a continuum. Also, the authors make it clear that they have gone beyond their own extensive experience to involve leaders in the library field to assist in developing and testing content. The last chapter, “Leaders Look Toward the Future,” includes library director authors from various types of academic institutions writing about topics such as special collections, health and law libraries, leadership, and collaboration on institutional space and common goals.

The content of this text is much broader than management; it covers academic librarianship in general. There is rich current content, with reading suggestions at the end of chapters, targeted readings, and questions to stimulate discussion as well as personal observations, clearly marked as from the authors. Each chapter ends with key points to remember, and there is a Web supplement with essays on future trends. A professor could design a course using this textbook and venture into any number of creative directions with a class. The format of the book encourages discussions that initiate the novice into the profession as well as engaging the student with prior library experience. The possibilities for group work, student-conducted surveys, and further research are endless. With careful curriculum coordination, Academic Librarianship could be used as the central reading for one course, supplemental reading [End Page 583] for one or two other courses, and the basis for a seminar on the future of libraries. The general emphasis on the future of our profession assists faculty in fully acquainting students with their responsibilities for shaping this future as well as for helping support and shape the institutions of which they are a part.

My review focus extends beyond recommending an excellent textbook. I read this work from the viewpoint of a library director. When mentoring new librarians, it is often helpful to create a bibliography of readings within the professional literature so that they can grasp the larger picture. This book does it all. Topics such as budgeting and its ramifications, digital collections, library 2.0, and millennials are what directors are dealing with, discussing, and planning for on a regular basis. Repeated references to organizations, associations, and individuals as well as information on the academy, accreditation, and assessment offer exactly the kind of information I would want new librarians to be familiar with. The text also delivers a strong dose of professionalism. While reading the book, I photocopied the copyright section and gave it to our new circulation supervisor because I believed the summary to be a perfect orientation as we discuss this topic. I plan to keep Academic Librarianship on my shelf, useful for quick quotes, a ready reference when preparing materials for discussions with administrators, and a source when seeking background material. Perhaps I will use some of the essays on the future of academic libraries for a summer staff discussion series.

My only fear is that future editions of Academic Librarianship will not be able to maintain its cutting edge character. The energy and effort that went into it are palpable. Authors Evans and Alire say it was a special pleasure to write Academic Librarianship. It is my honor to review it.

Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Lycoming College


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pp. 583-584
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