Straight from the Stacks: A Firsthand Guide to Careers in Library and Information Science

Richard Turner (Head of Learning Resources, Mount St. Mary's College, Spinkhill, UK)

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Article publication date: 1 July 2004




Turner, R. (2004), "Straight from the Stacks: A Firsthand Guide to Careers in Library and Information Science", New Library World, Vol. 105 No. 7/8, pp. 304-305.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Following on from Sheila Pantry and Peter Griffiths Your Essential Guide to Career Success published by Facet publishing in the UK (see review in New Library World, Vol. 105 No. 5/6), comes this work on career patterns in the US.

Starting from the premise that many senior librarians will shortly be retiring and there may not be enough information professionals to fill these gaps, Kane makes an impassioned defence of her profession with a heartening enthusiasm.

The author takes a different approach to Pantry and Griffiths work as she considers each sector of the profession in turn. Her chapters cover public librarianship, school and children's librarianship, academic librarianship, library directorship and corporate and freelance non‐traditional librarianship.

Each chapter includes a spotlight of half a dozen or so particular information professionals in which these individuals discuss the nature of their particular job. Again, the enthusiasm is almost infectious as these people discuss why they went into that particular post and what it is about their job that is so rewarding.

For example, the section on public librarianship spotlights a head of reference services, a head of circulation/assistant director, a library services supervisor, a consumer health librarian and a government documents librarian. Some of the job titles may be bewildering to the non‐American reader, but most information professionals will see either themselves or their work in the descriptions and interviews.

Kane starts each of her paragraphs with an overview of the sector under consideration. She is careful to explain the importance of each sector to society as a whole. At times it seems as if the author is trying to justify the existence of these jobs to a general audience when really this book is best suited for a young information professional considering which path to take in their chosen career.

In addition to the overview and spotlights on actual information professionals, each chapter also has a number of job descriptions for various posts within the sector. Again using the example of the chapter on public librarianship there are job descriptions for reference librarians, circulation librarians, technical services librarians and systems librarians. Each job description covers the working environment, responsibilities, education and training and recommended membership of professional bodies. This section will be of use to information professionals considering a move to another area of their profession or a promotion as it indicates whether skills are cross‐sector.

Although there is no index or appendices, the clear structure of the book means that this is not a big problem. The book is certainly of interest to anyone working in the information sector, especially in the US or for those considering working in the US, but is particularly recommended for the enthusiastic professional looking at routes into the profession as a career path.

The passion for the library and information sector is certainly evident throughout the book, if it becomes a bit evangelical and perhaps preaching to the converted at times. If the aim is to make the reader take pride in their profession then surely this has been achieved.

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