BOOK AND SOFTWARE REVIEWS
Evans, G. Edward and Alire, Camila A. Management basics for information professionals. 3rd. ed. London: Facet, 2013. xviii, 577 p. ISBN 978-1-85604-954-2. £49.95
A third edition of a book for professionals and students is a sure sign of success. And it is a very well thought through and well written text. It is a large text, too, with twenty-one chapters divided into five parts, each of which takes roughly one hundred pages. The titles of the chapters are clearly related to management issues that you may find in other textbooks on management: planning process, accountability, decision making, communication, assessment and quality control, leading, managing technology and so on. The five parts are also following the same style, but slightly differently. They relate to the conditions and objects of manager’s work. The part on Managerial environment is dedicated to the institutional environment and legal conditions of libraries. The part on Managerial skills set relates competence to manager’s tasks and work processes, such as decision making and communicating, but also innovating and advocacy. The part on Managing people looks probably most common from the point of view of chapters listed under it: motivating, leading, building teams, staffing and addressing diversity. The part on Managing things includes finances, technology and physical facilities. I found it quite remarkable that money is treated as things, not as a divine power, which actually provides a solid ground perspective on it. Finally, the fifth part deals with manager’s management of one’s own behaviour and career.
However, for me the most useful is linking of these management issues to the context of professional contexts in libraries and also specific cases related to them. So, if there is an example of legal issues it will be related to a specific library context and a case, e.g., of Dallas Public Library. If there is a chapter on measuring users’ satisfaction with service, it will take readers to library cases and literature about LibQUAL or other instruments used in libraries. If there is a discussion of technology management it will be related to staff training in libraries and digital content issues.
Another attractive feature is found inside chapters. The text is interspersed with boxes containing items to Check this out (usually, recommendations of further readings describing best practice, experiments, handbooks or research), tasks to think about and reflect in Try this>, practical Tips, or Author’s experience and some others. My favourites were Test your innovativeness and Something to ponder>. This feature helps to break long texts into smaller sections and makes a reader to take time for reflection or looking for some extra material outside the book.
As one could expect from American authors, the examples and contexts referred to are mainly American, but they also draw on some very universal features of libraries and other information services and centres. Besides, the authors are very sensitive to a variety of perspectives on organizations within international scholarship and practice. So, while reading I did not feel the sense of 'one size fits all' or see the promotion of universal solutions. On the other hand, these sometimes very complicated theoretical perspectives are introduced in the text with great caution, so that the most important aim of the book – to provide the basis of management competence to library and information professionals – is not lost in the maze of complex arguments and concepts. If that is a consequence of employing the outstanding reference group of scholars and professionals for advice and review of the text, then this method should be employed more often.
I will include this book into the reading list of the next autumn courses on managing libraries and I would recommend it to other teachers working in this field. It also can be useful to those librarians who have changed their mind and finally decided to embark on a managerial career or simply look for some good materials that will help to augment their professional skills.