RUSQ (59:3/4) Digital Supplement — Sources: Professional Materials

This digital supplement to RUSQ 59:3/4 includes reviews of professional materials, reference sources and the BRASS outstanding business information sources reviews for 2020 and 2021 (view all digital supplements). We thank members of the BRASS Information Sources Committees for 2020 and 2021, our review editors, Anita Slack and Calantha Tillotson, and their reviewers for their work, and RUSA past-president, Courtney McDonald for putting together these supplements.

View current and back issues of RUSQ at In spring 2022, the RUSA Publications Taskforce will be releasing a set of recommendations about various RUSA communication tools, including RUSQ. Share your thoughts via our survey. — Barry Trott, editor pro tem, RUSQ.

RUSQ considers for review reference books and professional materials of interest to reference and user services librarians. Serials and subscription titles normally are not reviewed unless a major change in purpose, scope, format, or audience has occurred. Reviews usually are three hundred to five hundred words in length.

Views expressed are those of the reviewers and do not necessarily represent those of ALA. Please refer to standard directories for publishers’ addresses.

Correspondence concerning these reviews should be addressed to “Professional Materials” editor, Calantha Tillotson, Instructional Services Librarian, East Central University; email:

Professional Materials Contents

  1. Be Opportunity Minded: Start Growing Your Career Now
  2. Beyond Banned Books: Defending Intellectual Freedom throughout Your Library
  3. Coaching Copyright
  4. Competency-Based Career Planning for Reference & User Services Professionals
  5. Creative Commons for Educators and Librarians
  6. Critical Approaches to Credit-Bearing Information Literacy Courses
  7. The Culture of Digital Scholarship in Academic Libraries
  8. Escape Rooms and Other Immersive Experiences in the Library
  9. The Future Academic Librarian’s Toolkit, Finding Success on the Job Hunt and in Your First Job
  10. Gather ‘Round the Table: Food Literacy Programs, Resources, and Ideas for Libraries
  11. The Grounded Instruction Librarian: Participating in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
  12. Healthy Living at the Library: Programs for All Ages
  13. How to Thrive as a Library Professional: Achieving Success and Satisfaction
  14. Inspired Thinking: Big Ideas to Enrich Yourself and Your Community
  15. Libraries that Learn: Keys to Managing Organizational Knowledge
  16. Library Services for Online Patrons: A Manual for Facilitating Access, Learning, and Engagement
  17. A Matter of Facts: The Value of Evidence in an Information Age
  18. Rainy Day Ready: Financial Literacy Programs and Tools
  19. Seeing Sense: Visual Literacy as a Tool for Libraries, Learning and Reader Development
  20. Supporting Trans People in Libraries
  21. Teaching Media Literacy, Second Edition
  22. Whole Person Librarianship: A Social Work Approach to Patron Services
  23. Young Activists and the Public Library
  24. Your Technology Outreach Adventure: Tools for Human-Centered Problem Solving

Be Opportunity Minded: Start Growing Your Career Now. By Caitlin Williams. Chicago, IL: ALA, 2019. 244 p. Paper $49.99 (ISBN 978-0-8389-1772-5).

In Powershift: Knowledge, Wealth, and Power at the Edge of the 21st Century, American futurist Alvin Toffler wrote, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” This is especially true for those in library- and information-related fields. People change, institutions change, technologies change. Sometimes it seems as though the change happens so fast it leaves us behind. Trying to chart a career path through this constantly shifting environment can be difficult and overwhelming, but Caitlin Williams provides a useful and well-timed toolbox in her book Be Opportunity Minded: Start Growing Your Career Now. For those looking for a way to move up in their current organization or for those looking to get out of feeling stuck in a career rut, Williams applies her thirty years of experience in professional development and career coaching in a practical, interactive, and accessible manner, emphasizing on how these tools relate directly to careers in library and information science.

In the first three chapters, Williams focuses on understanding how the workplace and career landscapes for LIS positions changes. As organizations experience change, she reminds us it is important to look for places where your skills can be utilized. She provides opportunities throughout the text to journal or jot down notes on how particular ideas relate to your individual situation. Williams describes how volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous the work landscape has become, and due to this volatility, our response to advancement has morphed into a “YoYo” (You’re On Your Own) approach. Through examining changes in job advertising language and a shift from a ladder focus to a lattice focus on career development, she provides opportunity for you to start building a plan for advancement.

Chapter four provides Williams’ most important content, teaching readers to use their essential self-knowledge to find their way through the ever-changing environment.. She stresses that self-knowledge plus growth opportunities equals unlimited career possibilities. This chapter provides a variety of exercises for you to explore your strengths, attitudes, values, passions, and risk-taking orientations. Once you better understand yourself and what you want, she suggests ways to use that information to explore the career landscape with curiosity.

To wrap up the exploration, Williams concludes with practical advice on how to determine which opportunities are worth pursuing. She provides a good balance of personally meaningful, positively challenging, and professional on-target advice for leveraging the self- and career-knowledge you gained in the first part of the book.

It is important to remember in the current library and information environment that we are not in this alone. Williams stresses it “takes a village” to grow and reminds us to seek out opportunities for feedback, advice, and support. Our community is our greatest resource and Williams’ book is a great addition to that community. —Cassondra Darling, Administrative Support Supervisor, History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma

Beyond Banned Books: Defending Intellectual Freedom throughout Your Library. By Kristin Pekoll. Chicago, IL: ALA, 2019. 168 p. Paper $54.99 (ISBN 978-8-8389-1901-9).

Authored by the assistant director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF), this work addresses censorship and providing equal access to information for all, regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status, religion, culture, age, ability, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic. This collection of case studies, resources, and services fills a need for addressing not only the collection itself, but also the other valuable offerings of a library – the programming, the services, the displays, the building itself, and more. Covering public, school, university, and government libraries, Pekoll addresses potential complaints and controversies, draws connections between principles and legal issues, offers questions to consider, and discusses reporting challenges to the OIF.

Separated into seven chapters, this volume addresses displays, exhibits, artwork, events, bookmarks, reading lists, social media, and databases, ending with a chapter on reporting and supporting. A set of appendices includes informative sections on such topics as the Library Bill of Rights, access regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, challenged resources, education and information literacy, exhibit spaces and bulletin boards, politics in American libraries, the universal right to free expression, visual and performing arts in libraries, and a code of ethics. Numerous informative footnotes in each chapter, along with a practical and balanced representation throughout, proves this work is both well researched and suitable for use in a myriad of situations throughout librarianship. An extensive index helps readers find needed information quickly, while the accessible writing style encourages reading to completion. In addition, the extensive use of subheadings assists consumers to discover sections of most interest to their unique situation. —Sara Rofofsky Marcus, Saratoga Springs, New York

Coaching Copyright. Edited by Kevin Smith and Erin Ellis. Chicago, IL: ALA, 2019. Paper 240 p. $59.99 (ISBN 978-0-8389-1848-7).

This important new book both re-envisions how librarians might approach working with patrons about copyright issues and provides a wealth of information and suggestions for how to do it.

Kevin Smith’s long introductory chapter discusses ways that a librarian would work with different people and disciplines to coach copyright. Smith uses the word “client” to emphasize that “we must approach copyright education in libraries one person, and one unique set of issues, problems, and needs, at a time” (p. 3). Copyright is complex, and there are many rules and exceptions. The librarian/coach works together with the client to give the client the information and analysis needed to decide how to proceed.

Coaching as presented here is not just one-on-one. There are detailed examples of teaching about copyright using case studies and role playing. The discussions provide the reader with the benefit of their own case study — not just hearing about good teaching tools but learning how they were developed and have been modified based on assessment.

Throughout the book there are discussions of how coaching copyright fits within the ACRL “Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education” and also is an important part of high-impact practices such as undergraduate research publications. Chapter 2 provides an overview and other chapters provide more detail. Reading Coaching Copyright is great fun for a librarian. There are many moments to say “we could do that at my library”, or to ask “how does that apply to the work that I do?”

While most of the authors work at large research universities, there is a chapter about copyright work at a small liberal arts college. However, much of the discussion about use of the ACRL “Framework” and working with undergraduate research journals can be applied by all higher education institutions. In addition, in Chapter 7, Anali Perry shows one way to look at the challenges of scale as she describes her work as an embedded librarian within the university’s instructional design team.

Coaching Copyright is highly recommended for all librarians and should be considered a requirement for academic librarians. It is worth noting that the publication date is September 2019, and I found myself occasionally wishing for examples of how to approach the challenges of 2020-2021. —Fran Rosen, Collection Strategies Librarian, Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Michigan

Competency-Based Career Planning for Reference & User Services Professionals. Jo Bell Whitlatch and Beth S. Woodard. Chicago, IL: ALA, 2020. 188 p. Paper $57.99 (ISBN 978-0-8389-1780-0).

Having a guide to help map out one’s career is always welcome, and for reference and user services professionals this well-conceived book fits the bill. The emphasis of this book is to provide suggestions as to how reference librarians can be proactive in developing their skills, knowledge, and, thus, successful progression through their careers. Drawing from the 2017 statement “Professional Competencies for Reference and User Services Librarians,” crafted by RUSA and based on ALA’s core competencies for “Reference and User Services,” the book addresses the seven competencies by devoting one chapter to each: access, sources, collaboration, information literacy, marketing and advocacy, assessment, and planning for the future.

The format of the book can help librarians to create a clear step-by-step plan for their professional growth. Each chapter begins by citing the first sentence of the competency being covered. For example, Chapter One, “Access,” begins by stating Section 5A of the RUSA “Professional Competencies”: “Accesses Relevant and Accurate Recorded Knowledge and Information.” The rest of Chapter One is divided into the main points of the competency addressed; again, for Chapter One these are: “Offers Services Responsive to Individual Expressed User Needs” and “Organizes and Designs Services to Meet the Needs of the Primary Community.” Each main heading is further divided into sections: Competencies, which restates the “typical behavioral strategies suggested in the RUSA ‘Professional Competencies’ ”; Development Methods, which describes the action items librarians can take in order to address the competency; and Assessing Development Efforts, which suggests ways for librarians to determine whether they have achieved the competency successfully. The format of Chapter One is repeated throughout the book, offering the reader a way to expect how subsequent chapters will unfold.

The book promotes self-motivation, self-assessment, and lifelong learning and, as such, provides a plethora of evaluation tools in the form of worksheets, checklists, and other methods for librarians to assess themselves and their work. For example, in Chapter Four, Information Literacy, one can find a “Checklist for Presentation Skills”; “Tips for Better Presentations”; and a “Presentation Feedback Form,” among the guidelines and resources presented. Chapter Six, Assessment, includes a “Checklist for Evaluating Information Resources”; a “Reference Electronic Database Questionnaire”; and an “Assessment of Service Delivery Evaluation Competencies.” The book also emphasizes collaboration with community partners and other professionals, both within and outside of one’s organization.

If there is any downfall to the book it would be that much of what it contains can be found in multiple other sources, especially other books geared towards reference and/or marketing. However, the book also cleverly conjoins much of that information within the construct of the RUSA Professional Competencies, which lends a different perspective to the work (and careers) of reference librarians. In addition, most of what the book addresses is applicable to any information professional’s career and could be easily used by anyone who is interested in developing skills that could inspire self-development and career advancement. —Ellen Rubenstein, Associate Professor, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma

Creative Commons for Educators and Librarians. Creative Commons. Chicago, IL: American Library Association, 2019. 160 p. Paper $44.99 (ISBN 978-0-8389-1946-0).

Available in print and as an openly licensed ebook, Creative Commons for Educators and Librarians is a companion to the Creative Commons Certificate course. While the content in the book is openly licensed and freely available, the certificate course is a paid experience that includes interaction with a facilitator and other learners in the course from around the world. Feedback from participants in the course is included throughout the book through URLs to resources on various topics.

The book provides a comprehensive introduction to Creative Commons, including its history, an overview of its legal ramifications, and the licenses themselves. Creative Commons is a global nonprofit that promotes the sharing and reuse of creative work. One of the primary ways they do this is through Creative Commons (CC) licenses, which are a set of copyright licenses that allows creators to openly license their work, giving others upfront permission to reuse a work. Readers who are already familiar with CC licenses and beginners can benefit greatly from this book’s easy-to-read thoroughness on copyright and Creative Commons.

The book has a global perspective and provides a suitable reflection of copyright regulations around the world without getting bogged down in technical details. It provides readers with a working knowledge of copyright, fair use, public domain, CC licenses, and applications of CC licenses in through Open Practices. There are also numerous links to resources to learn more about each topic. Due to the book’s own open license, readers can reuse, remix and redistribute the content to create their own lessons, tutorials, etc.

This book is a must read for those working with Open Educational Resources (OER), makerspaces and any other activity that involves publishing content. It is highly recommended for librarians in any setting to explore this revolution in copyright law that furthers libraries’ mission to provide free access to information.—Marla Lobley, Public Services Librarian, East Central University, Ada, Oklahoma

Critical Approaches to Credit-Bearing Information Literacy Courses. Edited by Angela Pashia & Jessica Critten. Chicago, IL: ALA, 2019. 319 p. Paper $63.00 (ISBN-13: 978-0-8389-8947-0).

This edited volume brings together the combined wisdom of 22 seasoned library instructors at 14 colleges and universities that offer credit-bearing information literacy courses. What these voices have in common is a critical approach to information literacy, described by the editors as a praxis that “start[s] from a fundamental place of critique. We aim to be thoughtfully critical of the assumptions, structures, and rhetoric that shape and reify what we do and how we do it . . . . actively questioning the reasoning behind the lesson or why things currently function as they do” (p. 3). Yet the authors differ widely in how they build their courses and, even more, how they describe them. This makes for chapters that range from practical guides to manifestoes of the resistance.

However, despite the differing styles and goals of the various chapters, the 2016 U.S. presidential election is a discernible thread that weaves through each one, sometimes explicitly and sometimes under the surface. For instance, in chapter 5, “Balancing Acts in the Critical Library Classroom: Inviting Constructive ‘Post-Truth’ Discourse in Politically Contentious Moments,” author Andrea Baer writes, “Information literacy has taken on a new resonance since the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, as terms like ‘post-truth,’ ‘alternative facts,’ and ‘fake news’ have become common discussion topics in higher education and in public discourse” (p. 69). As an academic librarian and instructor in rural Georgia, Baer found the political polarization and tension on her campus to be “palpable” (p. 70), and her chapter describes how she deliberately designed her information literacy course to address this reality. On the other hand, authors Erin Anthony, Rebekah Miller, and Marcia Rapchak ground their course in well-established critical pedagogy texts (such as Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 1970, and hooks’s Teaching Critical Thinking, 1994) rather than in current events. They emphasize that their course format encourages students “to ask more questions and challenge power structures” (p. 36). Yet due to the timing of their institution’s turn toward more “engaged pedagogy” (p. 38) in February 2017, it seems likely that recent political discourse was a factor in this move.

Indeed, every chapter raises issues that are particularly resonant in the current political season. In chapter 7, “Reflections on Adopting a Critical Media and Information Literacy Pedagogy,” Spencer Brayton and Natasha Casey express the importance of introducing students to “the emancipatory potential of information and media beyond traditional capitalist narratives and paradigms (i.e., Should information even be sold? What does it mean for a privileged few to have access to paywalled knowledge?, etc.)” (p. 125). In a different vein, yet still highly pertinent to today’s civic discourse, Christine M. Larson and Margaret Vaughan describe their course as “focused on Indigenous knowledge, working-class knowledge, and feminist ways of knowing” (p. 141) in chapter 8, “Opening to the Margins: Information Literacy and Marginalized Knowledge.” And in Chapter 12, “Examining Structural Oppression as a Component of Information Literacy,” Angela Pashia challenges the “popular mythology that libraries, and therefore library instruction, are politically neutral” (p. 231). Her wide-ranging course confronts the problem of whiteness in academia, from hiring practices to scholarly communication, and addresses the biases built in to the algorithms that control library resources. “It is important to discuss the biases inherent in the way that [the library catalog and databases] are organized. . . . It is also important to discuss the biases encoded into Google algorithms. There is a growing body of research [showing that] results that reinforce negative stereotypes rise to the first few pages, with analysis and counter-narratives appearing much later, on pages many users rarely if ever view” (p. 246).

These are important topics for academic librarians, and this volume suggests many ways for us to engage with them critically in our instruction classrooms. A passage from Baer’s chapter serves as a fitting summation: “As the influence of . . . political polarization on information processing and use have become increasingly evident, I believe librarians, alongside other educators, have new and often unexplored opportunities to support information literacy education through our own reflective and critical approaches” (p. 87). This volume sheds light on many such opportunities. —Karen Antell, Public Services Librarian, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma

The Culture of Digital Scholarship in Academic Libraries. Robin Chin Roemer and Verletta Kern. Chicago, IL: ALA, 2019. 256 p. Paper $71.99 (ISBN 978-0-8389-1897-5).

The topic of digital scholarship is vast and complicated. It can be difficult to classify and understand how an academic library can meet its constituents’ needs in that area. The Culture of Digital Scholarship in Academic Libraries, written solely by current or former employees of the University of Washington, discusses how both libraries and university departments collaborate on digital scholarship. They often mention partnerships between library departments, university entities, and community organizations.

The book is divided into three sections: values, practices, and environments. The values section looks at “theories and concepts that underlie the field of digital scholarship” (xv). The chapters on practices look at how digital scholarship is taking place at the University of Washington. Finally, the section on environments looks at digital scholarship from “the perspective of a particular service, department, or campus” (p. xv).

The authors do a good job discussing the positives and negatives they faced as they worked on digital scholarship in their departments, recognizing ideas they adapted from other universities. They also described their processes and made suggestions on actions other libraries could take. For example, the University of Washington is a large university with a focus on research that has multiple libraries. Even though the digital scholarship projects they have undertaken were often done on a large scale, the authors reveal how they can be adapted for smaller universities.

The Culture of Digital Scholarship in Academic Libraries contains a wealth of information on digital scholarship. At times, the amount of information can be overwhelming to process. Readers may want to take their time reading, to give themselves time to process the ideas mentioned in the book. Overall, this book provides insight into the challenges a library may face when becoming a hub for digital scholarship on campus, as well as the possible benefits. —Megan Hasler, Technical Services Librarian, East Central University, Ada, Oklahoma

Escape Rooms and Other Immersive Experiences in the Library. By Ellyssa Kroski. Chicago, IL: ALA, 2019. 200 p. Paper $57.99 (ISBN 978-0-8389-1767-1).

As a programming librarian who has created and run two escape rooms for our patrons, I was excited to have the chance to review Escape Rooms and Other Immersive Experiences in the Library. Ellyssa Kroski’s crams case studies, templates, theory, and personal narrative into less than 200 pages. To that end, it feels a little scattered. If you hope to use Escape Rooms as a quick reference guide, there are much more helpful resources available, such as Public Library Association’s However, this text would serve as a good source when making the argument for the kind of programming it describes. Kroski takes many opportunities to describe the benefits of immersive experiences, from team building to critical thinking to reaching learners in a new way.

The “other immersive experiences” were a particular point of interest for me, having only done escape rooms. What might that even include? Kroski suggests activities such as LARPing (live-action role playing) and digital breakouts. A digital breakout could be a fun learning module for students, and while all immersive experiences are a little labor intensive, this is a very budget-friendly option.

The case studies were enjoyable to read. While brief, they gave reflections and advice based on real experience, and each one includes a URL for more information. Readers may find Chapter 14, “Start-to-Finish Model,” especially helpful. The templates in the appendices are also great. There are so many moving parts to an escape room that planning one can seem overwhelming. These templates help break it down and keep you organized.

I would recommend this book for those wondering about the value of escape rooms as a library or classroom experience. For help or ideas in making an escape room, I would recommend the websites listed throughout the book, for as long as those addresses are active. —Amy Eiben, System Consultant, Southeast Kansas Library System

The Future Academic Librarian’s Toolkit, Finding Success on the Job Hunt and in Your First Job. Edited by Megan Hodge. Chicago, IL: ALA, 2019. 328 p. Paper $62.00 (ISBN 978-0-8389-8957-9).

Just as a carpenter needs the right tools for a job, academic librarians need a standard set of resources to help them professionally. Fortunately, ALA has published The Future Academic Librarian’s Toolkit, Finding Success on the Job Hunt and in Your First Job, an invaluable resource for the aspiring academic librarian.

For those in school, recent graduates, early-career librarians, paraprofessionals, or anyone looking for a pivot to a different field, The Future Academic Librarian’s Toolkit was created with you in mind. One of the strongest reasons to read this book is the accumulation of institutional and field knowledge spread across 13 chapters written by various academic librarians. These chapters are compiled into a timeline trajectory beginning with defining what academic librarianship is and various terminology used in academia, how to find and land your first job, descriptions of different positions within the academic library field, establishing a professional presence, and finding the next job. This book also addresses timely aspects of academic librarianship such as burnout, competition etiquette in a seemingly narrow field, and imposter syndrome. It’s easy to find a chapter that is relevant to any early career academic librarian.

Doing a quick Internet search can lead anyone to different blog posts, articles, and resources on how to become an academic librarian. The resources, the works cited, the real-life experiences of each author seem to cheer on the reader (plus everything is under a Creative Commons copyright!). The Future Academic Librarian’s Toolkit, thankfully, focuses on building up and utilizing skills, relationship building, and valuing the individual rather than focusing on appearances and relying on gender tropes which can be found in other books, blogs, and websites. There are chapters about burnout and self-care which should be addressed, considered, and reconsidered by the reader regardless of the stage of career.

A small shortcoming of these chapters are that they only provide a brief snippet of academic librarianship, a toolkit rather than a manual. If the reader is interested in one of the avenues of academic librarianship, such as Digital Scholar Librarian, they are strongly encouraged to look into the resources listed rather than simply relying on the chapter. In addition, I do wish that there was more about the experiences of being a BIPOC, disabled, and/or LGBTQ+ academic librarian or being an effective ally to the aforementioned in academia. There is a small section on page 90, but specific chapters, unfortunately, would be perceived as beyond the scope of the The Future Academic Librarian’s Toolkit by some. An equity minded reader needs to look for specific titles such as Rose L Chou and Annie Pho’s Pushing the Margins (Library Juice Press, 2018) rather than a generalized toolkit. —Vivian Eldridge, Collection Services Assistant, East Central University, Ada, Oklahoma

Gather ‘Round the Table: Food Literacy Programs, Resources, and Ideas for Libraries. Hillary Dodge. Chicago, IL: ALA, 2020. Paper 144 p. $49.99 (ISBN 978-0-8389-4629-9).

A general thought of programming is if there is food, people will come. Gather ‘Round the Table goes beyond offering refreshments. It is the first book, which solely focuses on food literacy programs in the library. Previously, if you were interested in this type of programming, you would scour a variety of websites for guidance.

In chapter one and two, “From Soups to Nuts” gives the definition of food literacy and background information on various food movements. Also, chapter 2 highlights some libraries in the United States and Canada whose food programs meet a particular goal, such as food insecurity. These chapters would aid any librarian in explaining why the library offers food programs to patrons or administration. Chapter three covers culinary terminology. Chapter four, “Take the Cake,” provides an in-depth explanation of the whys and hows to conduct a community needs assessment and Appendix B includes its worksheets. Chapter five reviews designing a program and some questions to consider, such as space and waivers. Throughout, there are recommended books to add to your library’s collection. Additionally, Appendix A and C presents tips on locating more materials and online resources.

“The Proof is in the Pudding” is inspiration galore for programming. Various sized libraries from across the United States discuss their food programs including successes and modifications. However, if you were expecting step-by-step directions on recreating the program comparable to Amy Alessio, Katie LaMantia, and Emily Vinci’s 50+ Fandom Programs: Planning Festivals and Events for Tweens, Teens, and Adults (ALA, 2017), you will be disappointed. It is rare for examples to provide a timeline for organizing the program, even in a narrative format. The only program template is a checklist of equipment for a baking club (p. 71). From program to program, there is inconsistency with the information shared on costs, marketing, and time.

Overall, the book centers on food programming in a public library setting. However, with a little imagination, the food programs could be applied to other libraries. Gather ‘Round the Table falls short in being a reference for a novice programming librarian with its lack of details. At $49.99, the book is expensive for the programming librarian seeking inspiration or librarians looking to improve the resources on food literacy in their collection. —Ruth Monnier, Learning Outreach Librarian, Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas

The Grounded Instruction Librarian: Participating in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Edited by Melissa Mallon, Lauren Hays, Cara Bradley, Rhonda Huisman, and Jackie Belanger. Chicago, IL: ACRL, 2019. 378 p. Paper $76.00 (ISBN 978-0-8389-4621-3).

The Grounded Instruction Librarian is a collection of essays and “case studies” that offer a robust overview and broad application of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) theory and research practices. There are 28 chapters arranged under four section headings: Pedagogical Content Knowledge/Signature Pedagogy; SoTL Theory; SoTL Research; and SoTL as Professional Development. Readers who are unfamiliar with SoTL may find it useful that definitions and brief reviews of literature on SoTL are interspersed throughout the book.

As the book’s title suggests, instruction librarians’ work should be grounded in SoTL. This assertion is based on three main ideas. First, librarians’ information literacy instruction should align with disciplinary contexts, content, and pedagogy. Instruction librarians need to collaborate more with faculty regarding pedagogical practices and knowledge of how students learn. Second, librarians can contribute to the development of SoTL theory and practice by adding their voices, research, and experiences. Their contributions to student learning through information literacy instruction should be shared outside of the professional literature silos. Third, student learning improves as instruction librarians seek to continually develop their teaching practices. Student learning improves when teaching is grounded in the overall scholarship of teaching and learning.

Each chapter of the book addresses one or more of these main ideas, providing examples and ideas for the application of SoTL. A few of the contributors note that instruction librarians may already be engaged in SoTL projects without knowing it. The interdisciplinary, dynamic, and flexible nature of SoTL makes it ideal for librarians as they seek to engage with and contribute to interdisciplinary theory and practices. It is also notable that much of the data collected for SoTL investigations is obtained using qualitative research methods.

The Grounded Instruction Librarian offers a thorough explication of SoTL that sometimes feels daunting to fully understand and embrace. However, it will be a great resource for instruction librarians seeking to challenge themselves to pursue new ways of collaborating, teaching, and sharing their research for a broader reach across the educational landscape. Both endnotes and a bibliography are provided together at the end of each chapter, which appears a bit redundant but does make it easier to identify and locate the cited literature. —Cheryl McCain, Library Instruction Coordinator, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma

Healthy Living at the Library: Programs for All Ages. Noah Lenstra. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited, 2020. Paper 225 p. $45.00 (ISBN 978-1-4408-6314-1).

Rather than just a discussion of programs, this comprehensive title delves into the history, reasoning, and data backing libraries leading the way with holistic wellness programs in their communities. The content is relevant to public, academic, and school libraries. Given the exercises at the end of each chapter, Healthy Living at the Library could also serve as a textbook for library and information science curriculums. Attention is paid to health equity, reducing disparity, and outcome-based measurements tied to strategic plans, as well as consideration of accessibility in multiple modes. Discussion of mental health, organizational and community wellness, and public health challenges are timely and serve to underscore how healthy living programs and practices complement the lifelong learning missions of libraries.

Programs are not prescribed, but rather encouraged to be library and community informed to be impactful and sustainable. While strong on the why, how, and with factors, the book is not a handbook of instantly implementable programs; it is a reference guide to support libraries in evaluating their resources, community needs, and goals. Successful examples of small rural and large urban library programs are embedded throughout the book. The emphasis is on leveraging the assets a library already has – a start where you are with what you’ve got approach – which is a strength in the COVID-19 era as libraries face concerns with budgets, revenue, and operations. The no-cost approach laid out in the book promotes relationships with community members, organizations and non-profits with similar concerns.

Organized in four sections, there is ample evidence, case-building, and linked resources for readers developing and advocating for these kinds of programs. Checklists, templates, liability considerations, challenges, and solutions make it a useful handbook. Also valuable is discussion and examples of connecting library collections and spaces to healthy living programs, bolstered by an examination of the importance of play for all ages. Assessment surveys and sample liability waivers complete the robust materials useful to libraries of all types and their key decision-makers. —Sarah Cournoyer, Youth Services Librarian, Beaver Dam Community Library, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin

How to Thrive as a Library Professional: Achieving Success and Satisfaction. Susanne Markgren and Linda Miles. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited, 2020. Paper 134 p. $45.00 (ISBN 978-1-4408-6711-8).

People want to thrive, not just survive in their professional lives. Markgren and Miles gathered resources from beyond the field of librarianship to create a strategy toolkit for any type of library professional.

In chapter one, Markgren and Miles familiarize you with the book’s structure through forced pauses in the narration for reflection exercises. The authors also introduce hypothetical professionals for case studies. Based on archives, public library, school library, special library, and university library settings, the case studies demonstrate how skills and strategies apply in different circumstances.

Chapters one, two, and three highlight the needs of new and early-career professionals, with advice and tips for determining your career path, working relationships, networking, and understanding organizational culture. Relevant for any professional, chapter four discusses forming habits and structuring your work for success. There are strategies for time management and productivity, such as the Eisenhower Matrix (p. 62), as well as practices for a growth mindset like the Habits of Mind Worksheet (p. 70). Chapters five, six, and seven are for a professional seeking to advance their career or transition into a different role. These chapters provide methods for advocating and selling yourself to others, addressing imposter syndrome, being mindful, and utilizing reflective practices. With references listed at the end of each chapter, it is simple to seek further information on any topic.

How to Thrive as a Library Professional is appropriate for any type of gallery, library, archives, or museum professional. It is most beneficial for current library students, early-career professionals, and librarians seeking to transition and advance their careers. At $45, the book might not be a purchase library students or early professionals can afford immediately, even though it would be a reference throughout their career. —Ruth Monnier, Learning Outreach Librarian, Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas

Inspired Thinking: Big Ideas to Enrich Yourself and Your Community. Dorothy Stoltz, Morgan Miller, Lisa Picker, Joseph Thomson, and Carrie Willson. Chicago, IL: ALA, 2020. Paper 123 p. $54.99 (ISBN 978-0-8389-4671-8).

Libraries are often thought of as places of learning, investigation, inquiry, exploration, and really great people. When a library focuses on “big ideas” rather than “small ideas,” magic can happen. The authors of Inspired Thinking focus on how to bring a “big idea” mindset into the library, and why it matters.

“Big idea” thinking focuses on enlightenment. Ideas such as joy, gratitude, dignity, unity, and optimism are beneficial to all members of the community. “Small ideas” tend to focus on the negative and can cause division and frustration among the community. Libraries need to remain “above the fray” and practice “big idea” thinking in order to best serve their communities and aid in problem solving. “Big ideas” help solve problems, while “small ideas” can further those problems.

Part one discusses how ideas come about, why it is important to have an open mind, and how culture impacts our ability to think big. In part two, the theme of bridges is prevalent. The authors outline how self-improvement, mindfulness, and self-reliance are useful in creating the bridge to big ideas. Librarians should help create a bridge to enlightenment for their patrons by offering programs that promote freedom and open-minded thinking.

Part three focuses on how to implement big ideas in the library. Creativity is key. The final portion of the book, part four, features discussion on finding light within ideas. Curiosity, joy, humility, and unity are big ideas to celebrate.

Intended for librarians and other library staff, Inspired Thinking is a great reminder to keep an open mind, stay above the fray, and use imagination. It offers inspiration to anyone who works in a library, but also for anyone in any aspect of life. While it mostly refers to applications in the library, the same concepts can be applied to other areas of our lives, thus enriching them to the fullest.—Emily Voelkers, Public Services Librarian, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Bartlesville, Oklahoma

Libraries that Learn: Keys to Managing Organizational Knowledge. Edited by Jennifer A. Bartlett & Spencer Acadia. Chicago, IL: ALA, 2019. 164 p. Paper $64.99 (ISBN 978-0-8389-1831-9).

The acumen of librarians in organizing and disseminating information for the public does not always translate to organizing and disseminating knowledge within their library. Anyone who has experienced the frustration and panic of learning un-written procedures or trying to be the successor of someone with years of experience can appreciate the value of Libraries That Learn: Keys to Managing Organizational Knowledge. This book captures what has been learned from the field of Knowledge Management (KM) thus far and applies it to a library context. Part I introduces readers with no knowledge of KM to the history and major theories of the field. It emphasizes the necessity of KM to be ongoing and actionable and to incorporate multiple dimensions including social behavior, technology, and human resource management. Part II includes case studies from libraries about their own KM initiatives. The majority of case studies are from academic libraries, but most projects discussed would be applicable to all types of libraries.

The strength of the work is its thorough introduction to KM, giving the reader an understanding of the complexity of KM and its practical application. The currency of the work is a strength in the present but a potential weakness in the future, as KM changes with the pace of technology. The work is not a how-to guide but rather an introduction that can be quickly consumed and a catalog of ideas that can serve as a spark plug for applying KM principles within a library’s context. Library leaders who want to strengthen their organization’s ability to serve its users and employees would benefit from reading this book and applying the concepts. —Marla Lobley, Public Services Librarian, East Central University, Ada, Oklahoma

Library Services for Online Patrons: A Manual for Facilitating Access, Learning, and Engagement. Edited by Joelle Pitts, Laura Bonella, Jason Coleman, and Adam Wathen. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited, 2019. Paper 200 p. $55.00 (ISBN 978-1-4408-5952-6).

The current public health situation reveals how invisible online patrons and their experiences can be to librarians. Written by librarians who have been supporting online patrons for years, Library Services for Online Patrons gives librarians new to serving online patrons the opportunity to learn from their successes and failures.

In chapters one and two, the authors provide a framework in which to assess your library, your position, and your patrons’ experiences and needs. Chapter three gives foundational knowledge on pedagogy, assessments, and inclusive design. Chapters four, five, and six covers best practices for online reference and instruction as well as embedded librarianship. Chapters seven, eight, and nine reviews the interconnection between relationship building, marketing strategies, outreach efforts, and access to materials. Chapter ten discusses public librarians’ considerations for serving online patrons.

Library Services for Online Patrons is a relevant primer for those new to distance librarianship or serving online patrons. Even though the primary audience is academic librarians, the information is easily adopted and applicable for any librarian. Throughout the book and in the appendix, there are additional resources for deepening understanding from the Standards for Distance Learning Library Services (2016) to individual case studies on outreach efforts. Little touches, such as supplying a checklist for accessibility standards (p. 38) and an email template for faculty contact (p. 103), ensure those new to the serving online populations do not have to reinvent the wheel.

The book is an inspiring reference with its foundational information, case studies, and resources. I highly recommend Library Services for Online Patrons for those interested in distance librarianship, early-career distance librarians, and anyone with the new responsibility of serving online patrons.—Ruth Monnier, Learning Outreach Librarian, Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas

A Matter of Facts: The Value of Evidence in an Information Age. Laura A. Millar. Chicago, IL: ALA Neal-Schuman, 2019. Cloth 172 p. $44.99 (ISBN 978-0-8389-1771-8).

This book is a rallying cry not only to professional archivists and information keepers but to everyday people. This is not a book for any particular library, archive, government, business, or individual, but rather a book for all of them. The fast pace of the digital world requires a change in the way in which data, facts, and evidence are assessed, collected, and preserved. Millar argues that no longer can we passively sit and wait for them to be created, grow old, and eventually make their way to archives to be preserved.

As someone who has worked in archives for over a decade, I found the book a slow read – not because it was uninteresting or dull, but rather because it gives this important topic its due diligence and really takes the time to articulate its argument as to why data, facts, and evidence matter. Each of these different, yet overlapping, items are examined individually and as part of a whole, allowing the reader time to process the importance of preserving them accurately and in a manner that allows for accurate retrieval.

The book is filled with real life examples of times when proper documentation has been used for accountability of the past or to uncover the manipulation of data, as well as when poorly-documented (or preserved) documentation has caused troubles. Millar calls out the consistent underfunding of archives and the lack of understanding that most people have of the importance of preserving the data they create, much less how to even begin undertaking that process – a series of truth which hit close to home for this particular archivist.

If you are looking for a book which will list specific steps for deciding what is worth keeping and how to preserve it, this book will not fulfill that role. It acknowledges that different settings have different needs and that rapidly changing technology can render specific steps outdated by the time of printing. However, if you are looking for a book to update, broaden, and deepen your own understanding of the value of evidence in an information age, giving you a solid foundation for why you should take the time and effort to create personal protocols and push for legal protocols when it comes to data, facts, and evidence, this book will provide that with both appropriate gravity and humor.—Marikit Fain, Archives Coordinator, John Brown University, Siloam Springs, Arkansas

Rainy Day Ready: Financial Literacy Programs and Tools. Edited by Melanie Welch and Patrick Hogan. Chicago, IL: ALA Editions, 2020. Paper 144 p. $59.99 (ISBN 978-0-8389-4631-2).

The ALA publication Rainy Day Ready: Financial Literacy Programs and Tools is an impressive, how-to programming guide for various types of libraries. Readers will appreciate the authoritative content, rich in fresh ideas and creative curricula.

Co-editor Melanie Welch draws on her experience as a project director in the ALA Public Programs Office. She has worked in partnership with the FINRA Investor Education Foundation to create the Thinking Money traveling exhibition. Co-editor Patrick Hogan is an editor with the ALA’s book publishing imprint. They, along with sixteen contributing authors from across the United States, present a three-part blueprint detailing the essential elements of successful pre-K through adult programs.

Part One is a thought-provoking discussion about the library’s role as an education provider. Readers are challenged to think critically about their current programming lineup and communities they serve. Outcomes of this exercise are revealing.

Part Two showcases sixteen model programs that are adaptable for use in a library’s own setting. Some examples are: “Paint a Piggy Bank,” “Planning for Life after High School” and “Small Business, Big Ideas.” The blue-ribbon curricula are complete with budgets, funding sources, resources for free training materials, tips on forming community partnerships, and so much more.

Part Three covers the RUSA “Financial Literacy Education in Libraries: Guidelines and Best Practices for Service.” [see RUSA guidelines] Adherence to these standards produces programs that are based on the ethical use of information, are unbiased, and yield measurable outcomes.

Personal money management is a critical skill needed for every stage of life. Libraries are positioned to assist with this challenge through their collections and public programs. Rainy Day Ready: Financial Literacy Programs and Tools equips libraries with the framework they need to offer financial education in their communities and to support every individual along their financial journey.—Stephanie P. Livengood, M.L.S. Library Associate Senior, The University of Akron Wayne College, Orrville, Ohio

Seeing Sense: Visual Literacy as a Tool for Libraries, Learning and Reader Development. Jake Hope. London, UK: Facet Publishing, 2020. Paper 176 p. $54.99 (ISBN 978-1-7833-0441-7).

It’s no secret to any Millennial or Gen Z-ers that understanding visuals is vital to understanding the modern world both critically and practically. In Hope’s text, and in academia in general, this skill is called visual literacy. As an outsider to the world of libraries, (beyond my use and my student’s use of them) this text was particularly interesting to me as an academic insider to the study of visual rhetorics.

As the “Praise” section for the text indicates, the book is clear, has case studies, accessible and practical information, and is immersive and essential. The Forward echoes the generational and academic critical thought that without “visual literacy, there is no democracy” (p. xviii), and this text is ripe with efforts to practically move toward a more democratic space for picture books, as Hope calls them, and thereby, allow for more democratic action in our libraries.

The text does exactly what it promises in its TOC, but even more than that, it uses the information most of us are familiar with – such as the importance of visual literacy in its alignment to developmental stages of reading – and extends that knowledge to what comes of that visual reading: authentic visual identity for the reader, a sense of cultural and social value of the self, and a knowing that resonant images are important to how we remember and recall our own histories and those of our communities.

Hope also calls out to theorists such as Saussure and semiotics, which ties Hope’s claims to a larger audience than the ALA, including rhetoricians like myself. Fans of graphic novels and parents will also appreciate the shared nature of the text, as it refutes the unfounded stigma of the comic book and bolsters the “seminal” (p. 86) role it plays in the shared experience of reading.

Hope rightly focuses on art, artists, and publishing professionals and the vital nature of those communities collaborating to embolden the value of visual literacy practices as imperative to general literacy. Notable to me in this discussion of collaboration was the mention of visual storytelling and the collaboration of visual arts. It reminded me of my own journey of getting my son to read “chapter books” autonomously. He loved to listen to me read, but I was concerned about his development as a reader since he didn’t seem interested in reading on his own. I found a fan fiction series Diary of a Minecraft Zombie that included the characters of the video game Minecraft, and read like a diary, but included engaging drawings. My son read the whole series in a few months – 18 books, and ended the year reading over 50 “chapter books” of similar content. He’s 8. It was the combination of “arts” that jump-started his autonomous reading, and it’s exactly the kind of example Hope would use as proof of the efficacy of the joint efforts of professionals in the arts.

What Hope does in this text is ask us to partake in the conversations found in and around picture books. He shows us how to play with content beyond the written text, and build and contribute to exhibits and the like that allow us to participate in practices that make us better citizens by better knowing ourselves. It’s time to critically champion the different practices and skills of visual literacy in libraries and our daily lives. Hope’s text is a perfect guide.—Robin Murphy, Professor of Rhetoric and Writing, East Central University, Ada, Oklahoma

Supporting Trans People in Libraries. Stephen G. Krueger. Santa Barbara, CA.: Libraries Unlimited, 2019. 154 p. Paper $45.00 (ISBN 978-1-4408-6705-7).

“Remember that trans and gender variant people exist” (143). It is this simple instruction that lies at the heart of this brief handbook aimed at libraries of every kind. The dozen chapters address topics such as “Pronouns and Other Language,” “Restrooms,” “Library Employees and Coworkers,” and “Collection Development,” with the continuous effort to move librarianship in the direction of greater inclusion and support of those whose gender is not defined by the simple male/female binary. Krueger, who was named as an ALA Emerging Leader in 2018 and is the creator of the Gender Variant LIS Network, wants readers to understand that libraries have a duty to be safe spaces for everyone, and he provides clear, concrete instructions on practical ways to do that in regard to gender identity.

If read straight through, the book can seem repetitive, which Krueger acknowledges. It’s intended more to be read piecemeal as needed based on the reader’s level of understanding and their position in the library world. Later sections review material on pronouns, for example, in the context of library job interviews, but then refer back to the relevant chapter for more complete coverage. Each chapter ends with a set of “Quick Fixes” and “Long-Term Solutions” that serve as a roadmap for positive change. Most also include personal reflections from Krueger’s experience, “Community Voices” sidebars from other gender-variant LIS professionals, and example language for use in relevant situations.

Though articles exist that address issues related to trans identity in libraries, and Smallwood and Sanborn’s Gender Issues and the Library (McFarland, 2017) includes relevant chapters, there is no other work available that covers gender identity as it concerns libraries this thoroughly. This book is essential for any professional collection and should particularly be read by administrators, directors, and library school faculty members, who have the most power to implement the necessary changes Krueger recommends.—Karl G. Siewert (he/him or they/them), Instructional Librarian, Northeastern State University, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

Teaching Media Literacy, Second Edition. Belinha S. De Abreu. Chicago, IL: ALA Neal-Schuman, 2019. Paper 264 p. $54.99 (ISBN 978-0-8389-1721-3).

No longer is the school librarian just responsible for getting the right resource into the right hand or finding the perfect title for a reader. Today’s school librarian is also expected to be a teacher-leader, have in-depth knowledge of the curriculum and the supporting digital resources, and a teacher of research skills. Due to the influx of social media, non-stop news, and the cultural aspect of “fake news,” teaching digital literacy is now being added to this growing list of responsibilities.

In the foreword, Michelle Ciulla Lipkin states that media literacy is the most important skill of the 21st century. The purpose of media literacy education is to help students become critical thinkers, develop the habit of inquiry, and cultivate the skills to express their thoughts and opinions backed by facts. Belinha S. De Abreu’s Teaching Media Literacy is an excellent resource that not only supports this new responsibility of school librarians but also teachers and educators of different grade levels and subjects who would like to integrate media literacy into their classroom lessons.

“Part 1: Exploring Media Literacy” starts with a comprehensive overview of media literacy, including the “Five Core Concepts” and “Five Key Questions.” Each of the ten chapters in Part 1 focus on different current components of media literacy, such as fake news, social justice and digital privacy, with a reflection and real life examples from an educator. “Part 2: The Major Formats of Media” focuses not only on the school library but gives excellent examples of how this can be incorporated and taught in Social Studies, Science, and other subject areas. What makes this such a valuable resource are lesson plans broken down by form of media that include assessments. Most lessons are geared toward middle school but can easily be tweaked for higher or lower grade levels. “Part 3: Resources” include a comprehensive glossary, timeline of media literacy education, and an extensive resource list that includes present day popular websites for further information.

Media literacy has been around for a while, but due to the current environment, it is becoming the hot button topic in education. Teaching Media Literacy is an excellent resource for both school librarians and educators that are either contemplating starting a unit or class on media literacy or are already entrenched in it. This book will help plan and organize instructional sessions and help easily assimilate media literacy into traditional subjects.—Marianne Fitzgerald, School Librarian, Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Annapolis, Maryland

Whole Person Librarianship: A Social Work Approach to Patron Services. Sara K. Zettervall and Mary C. Nienow. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited, 2019. 175 p. Paper $55.00 (ISBN 978-1-4408-5776-8).

Collaboration can be a beautiful thing. It has the potential to bring about new ideas, solve problems, and form relationships that work together for the betterment of the community. This book is a testament to the power of collaboration. Authors Zettervall (a librarian) and Nienow (a social worker) provide a basic framework for bringing a social work approach to the library, and in my opinion, a library is an excellent place for social work. Librarians face the unique challenge of working in an environment that is open to all people from all circumstances, backgrounds, and socioeconomic status, which leads to the potential of encountering vulnerable people in times of crisis. This book takes social work, a profession built on serving vulnerable people in times of crisis, and addresses how social workers can help within libraries.

The book opens by providing historical background on what the authors affectionately refer to as “sister professions.” Focusing on necessary information related to the roles, responsibilities, similarities, and differences between librarians and social workers. Next, the reader is introduced to firsthand accounts of innovative librarians that faced complex social issues within their library and decided to do something to address these issues, using library-social work collaboration. Social workers also share their side of the story and provide insight into internships and employment in libraries.

If you are looking for simple ways to become a more person-centered librarian or to develop partnerships between libraries and social services agencies, this practical, straightforward read is the book for you. I would consider it a guidebook that provides an enormity of information, as well as easy to use worksheets and tools. For me, being a social worker, the read was inspiring and inspired me to continue to trust in the power of interdisciplinary collaboration. I would highly recommend the book to social workers and librarians or anyone interested in how collaboration leads to innovative problem-solving.—Amy Ward, DSW, LCSW, Social Work Program Director, East Central University, Ada, Oklahoma

Young Activists and the Public Library. Virginia A. Walter. Chicago, IL: ALA Editions, 2020. Paper 128 p. $45.99 (ISBN 978-0-8389-4738-8).

Not since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s have we seen more young people mobilize and unite to stand against injustice, racism, and oppression. As they come together to amplify the voices of the silenced and use peaceful protest to fight on behalf of the battle weary, their search for information on the origin story of social justice and activism grows. This quest for information in these areas and more could be answered by Young Activists and the Public Library by Virginia A. Walter.

The book features four chapters (“Young People, Civic Literacy, and Libraries,” “Information for Young Activists,” “Putting Civic Literacy to Work,” and “Resources for Civic Literacy”) with each chapter building upon the readers’ knowledge of activism and civic literacy. The author begins the book by revisiting historic moments of activism inspired by youth. These past events act as a bridge that connects readers to more recent acts of activism. Through this lens the author emphasizes the importance that public libraries have in supporting both civic and media literacy.

While the book in its entirety is well-written and highly relevant to the needs of today’s young activist, it blooms and grows in its last two chapters. In these chapters, the author provides clear action steps and an impressive, highly comprehensive resource guide. The inclusion of these two components are catalysts for supporting youth in building their individual and collective capacities in the areas of civic literacy and activism.

This book is both a timely and relevant addition for professional library collections, and would be highly beneficial for youth services librarians and practitioners. As with most books that highlight current subjects and themes, the singular concern is that the best practices and suggestions that work for this moment will shift and change more quickly than the publication process can accommodate. But there is one thing that remains timeless, the desire for young people to feel engaged in the process of enacting social change.—Christina Fuller-Gregory, Assistant Director of Library Services, South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, Greenville, South Carolina

Your Technology Outreach Adventure: Tools for Human-Centered Problem Solving. Erin Berman. Chicago, IL: ALA, 2019. 208 p. Paper $54.99 (ISBN 978-0-8389-1778-7).

Despite we may learn from an early age, failure is more than acceptable. In fact, according to Erin Berman’s Your Technology Outreach Adventure, failure is inevitable, and when it occurs, we must embrace and learn from it. . While this book is written primarily for public librarians specializing in technology outreach, any reader will find valuable insight within its content, particularly in the realm of creative problem solving

Using her experience at San Jose Public Library, Berman develops human-centered problem solving or design thinking for both teams and individuals in library employment. As Berman describes it, design thinking is “a new way that approaching and solving problems that puts [them] in tune with the needs of the public and opens an avenue to being nimble,” following the scientific method of evaluation and embracing failure (p. 27). Berman particularly connects design thinking in the area of technology outreach, which can be vastly different from other methods of outreach. Rather than focusing around an event, such as a cultural event or class, technology outreach uses adapted technological tools to connect with specific communities of patrons. Recognizing that technology adaptation can seem expensive, overwhelming, and cause cases of “technolust,” Berman urges librarians to focus on what is tangible for their unique environments, patrons, and job duties (p. 27).

The book is divided into eight chapters, and each chapter highlights a piece of the framework that Berman merges with the narration of a technology outreach adventure from start to finish. Entire chapters include outreach fundamentals, technology-based outreach planning, design thinking, best practices, design thinking exercises for teams, planning technology-based outreach, and case studies. These chapters are best consumed in sequence but could be revisited separately for specific problem solving advice. At the end of each chapter, there are copious resources for readers to use. While many of these chapters are theoretical for the reader, Berman successfully guides the reader throughout, making technology outreach feel very possible with the help of this book.

Few titles are devoted solely to technology outreach, and this book fills that gap to an extent, as it is grounded in research, case studies, and the experiences of actual librarians. It should be considered a must-read for public librarians looking to integrate technology outreach into their consistently overwhelming to-do lists. Those looking for a step-by-step guide, with abstract and empathetic thinking, should look at this book as a standout title in human-centered design thinking and technology-based outreach. —Vivian Feng, Collection Services Assistant, East Central University, Ada, Oklahoma