Delivering Digital Services: A Handbook for Public Libraries and Learning Centres

Susannah Hanlon (School of Computing, Engineering and Information Science, University of Northumbria, UK)

Performance Measurement and Metrics

ISSN: 1467-8047

Article publication date: 1 September 2006




Hanlon, S. (2006), "Delivering Digital Services: A Handbook for Public Libraries and Learning Centres", Performance Measurement and Metrics, Vol. 7 No. 3, pp. 207-208.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

David McMenemy and Alan Poulter, along with other colleagues from The Department of Computer and Information Sciences at Strathclyde University, and significant practitioner contributors, have compiled a most useful introductory handbook for the modern public librarian.

It is well recognised that the nature of public librarianship has changed substantially in the light of new technologies, and as a result of government initiatives for increased social inclusion. Public librarianship is also the pivotal point of the realisation of a national strategy for lifelong learning for all.

This handbook works successfully as a bridge between traditional librarianship and librarianship, as it is evolving in the twenty‐first century.

The authors are careful to neither dismiss traditional librarianship nor yearn for its return. Rather, they present a balanced view of how the traditional and present day requirements can be harnessed together to ensure an effective and successful public library service within our communities.

The handbook is a valuable resource in its own right, with its extensive references, and suggestions for further reading. The authors have chosen a broad‐brush approach to their topics. This is useful for the new librarian or student of librarianship, as it makes the reader aware of the wide range and complexity of issues that the present day librarian needs to address. The style of writing is enthusiastic and encourages the reader to explore all the topics to a greater depth.

The use of case studies and activities are such that the reader can very quickly interact with the subject material of the text. The activities are supported further at a related web site:

The handbook demystifies the technologies required to set up intranets, portals, digitisation projects, and web sites. Practical instructions on how to get started on all of these areas, is given, and resources are suggested for further developing the effective delivery of digital services.

Professor J.D. Hendry remarks in his forward:

I believe this work will be of particular value to those professionals whose formative education was in a time before the ICT revolution…

However, this work not only provides practical ICT instruction, but also brings together in one place, the myriad range of initiatives that emerged through the 1990s until today, at local, national and European levels. It also shows where these initiatives have brought us, at this point in time, and thus, why the library professional is changing in the way it is.

Also, as the authors point out at various points in the early sections of the book, there is still a lot of work to be done to build a fully ICT literate society. The chapter on lifelong learning clearly outlines some of the barriers to learning, and to the acquisition of ICT literacy, which continue to persist.

The book is divided into three sections:

  1. 1.

    Policy and legal background.

  2. 2.

    Frontline issues in the twenty‐first century public library, which discusses the rationale for improving ICT skills and the influential role of the government in the development of the modern public library.

  3. 3.

    Content creation in the twenty‐first century public library, in which much practical information is given relating to the creation of web sites, intranets, portals and the development of digitisation projects.

This is an encouraging book on how to bring about beneficial change to the public library and learning centres. The discussion surrounding learning centres relates to less formal learning environments and colleges, particularly with reference to strategies for lifelong learning.

It is a must for any librarianship student, recently appointed librarian, or any librarian, or learning centre manager, that finds themselves needing to transform their current library environment into a twenty‐first century library.

Related articles