Visionary Leaders for Information

Bob Pymm (Charles Sturt University, Australia)

The Electronic Library

ISSN: 0264-0473

Article publication date: 9 August 2011



Pymm, B. (2011), "Visionary Leaders for Information", The Electronic Library, Vol. 29 No. 4, pp. 556-557.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Visionary Leaders for Information looks in detail at the place of the librarian, particularly the teacher‐librarian, as a pivotal player within their organisation. While drawing on a range of management theory to frame his discussion, Winzenried goes on to acknowledge that, in order to understand the role of the library in information provision and organisational success, it is necessary to consider an additional dimension. This he describes as “moral purpose” where information provision is undertaken within the context of a clearly defined purpose tailored to the individual's requirements. Thus the information provided, and the manner in which it is provided, forms the basis for a passionate discussion on the role and challenges faced by information professionals looking to take a lead role within their organisations.

This sometimes discursive, but always engaging volume, opens with “A note about terminology” where the author explains why he is using the word “library” throughout, rather than a term such as “information agency”. He makes the point that for him, “library” implies a human face to information provision and this approach is then carried throughout the entire book. It is all about working with people to address the challenges faced by our profession in the twenty‐first century and develop the vision necessary to remain relevant in the increasingly fragmented and technologically driven world of information provision, highlighting the need for teacher‐librarians and information leaders generally to take a far more active role in leading their organisations.

A key discussion, central to the overall thrust of the book, is on the development of successful leadership – not just of the library but within the broader organisation as a whole. This is portrayed as moving on from management, with the challenge being that generally, library staff will have to “lead from the middle”. This notion is explored in some detail – how can you be an effective leader when you do not, in the organisational sense, carry a title or position that gives you this authority? This is the real challenge discussed in the first half of the book.

Following this, a number of scenarios are envisaged, drawn from a range of contributors from the library and information field, that take this vision into the future. Among these scenarios, Doug Johnson and Sue Healey in particular, offer rather detailed and certainly challenging views of a very high‐tech future. Derek Law (Glasgow) considers the academic library issues and Phillip Hughes (ANU) the educational imperatives.

Visionary Leaders is a highly readable volume that is wide ranging in its coverage and thought provoking in its content. It is a timely reminder of the value of the client and the contribution that the information professional can play in making a positive contribution to the health of any organisation. While it has a focus on teacher‐librarians, its reach is broad and anyone involved in the information professions generally could read it with profit.

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