The Small Library Manager’s Handbook ed. by Alice Graves
This handbook is intended to be a “one-stop” resource for librarians managing small academic, public, and special libraries such as those found in hospitals, prisons, museums, courthouses, and corporate environments. As a result, the scope of the handbook is necessarily broad and ambitious. Five sections cover key topics such as administration, finance and budgeting, cataloguing and management of the collection, marketing and outreach, and use of technology. Most graduates of professional library and information science programs will have taken courses in cataloguing, collections management, website design, and data management that would provide significantly more detailed coverage of these topics than this handbook, but this volume could be useful as a refresher or as a starting point to fill in gaps in educational background. Each chapter is written by an experienced practitioner familiar with the financial and personnel challenges of working in a small library, and most chapters contain useful suggestions for further reading.
However, the very breadth of scope of this manual and the fact that the chapters are written by different practitioners, each with a different background and set of experiences, results in rather uneven coverage. For example, chapter 10 (“How to Acquire Library Materials on a Tight Budget”) and chapter 14 (“How to Excel at Collection Development”) overlap with each other significantly: both contain definitions of collection development and an overview of the collection policy. In other sections, coverage of key topics is incomplete. For example, the entire finance and budgeting section is very brief, containing only two chapters, one devoted to raising funds and the other to writing grant proposals. While these chapters are useful, there is no coverage of more fundamental aspects of financial management such as an analysis of different budgeting strategies, a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of budget allocation formulae, an explanation of the differences between capital and operating budgets, or a discussion of the importance of vendor relations. Even more curiously, the section focusing on marketing and outreach does not actually describe basic marketing strategies, particularly ideas for using social media to promote the library and its services. I looked for a discussion of professional development (a topic highlighted in the cover blurb) and couldn’t find it in the chapter on staff development or in the index; I stumbled on this topic in an unlikely place, a chapter devoted to time and work management. [End Page R1]
In conclusion, this is a useful handbook for new graduates who want a quick starting point, but by itself it is not sufficient as a one-stop resource. Other manuals such as Management Basics for Information Professionals by Evans, Ward, and Rugaas and Library and Information Center Management by Stueart and Moran1 are more useful general guides to library management. The Small Library Manager’s Handbook would benefit from a more detailed and extensive index and from more consistent and thorough coverage of key topics.
1. G. Edward Evans, Patricia L. Ward, and Bendik Rugaas, Management Basics for Information Professionals (New York: Neal-Schuman, 2000); Robert D. Stueart, Claudia J. Morner, and Barbara B. Moran, Library and Information Center Management, 8th ed. (Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 2012).