The Library and Information Work Primer

Margaret Gregory (Senior Information Officer, Liverpool John Moores University)

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Article publication date: 1 April 2000




Gregory, M. (2000), "The Library and Information Work Primer", New Library World, Vol. 101 No. 2, pp. 88-91.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

The authors have wide experience in the training and development of paraprofessionals within information and library services (LIS) making for informed opinions. The main objectives for this book are the provision of comprehensive, accurate and factual basis for study, and also to attempt to alter the traditional rather dated, stuffy image of library and information work which still endures.

The primary target audience is paraprofessional staff, at supervisory level but it is useful to those finding themselves in a first professional post, or indeed to those returning to the service after a career break.

The physical arrangement comprises, preface and general introduction, followed by ten chapter headings, a recommended reading list, containing 42 references and a list of five journals of interest to the paraprofessional, an index, useful addresses, glossary of abbreviations and acronyms and an index.

There is also an appendix which links the chapters to the curricula of the City and Guilds and NVQ information and library courses, for example chapter 6, “The stock of libraries” is relevant to Units 02, 03 of the City & Guilds 7370 course and also to Units,1,4,5,8 of the ILS‐NVQ 2.

While the chapters essentially follow the curricula of City & Guilds and NVQ courses, the arrangement and order of subjects follows an orderly progression similar to professional courses.

The chapter headings in the Contents pages are supplemented by detailed sub‐headings, in one instance a chapter is broken down into 16 subsections making it easy to find specific topics, however the broad chapter headings are:

  • The functions and structure of the principal types of library and information service within the UK.

  • Management, recruitment and training.

  • Education and training opportunities.

  • Financial administration, record and planning.

  • Library co‐operation.

  • The stock of libraries.

  • Services to users.

  • Marketing and public relations.

  • Information and communications technology.

  • Evaluation.

The text provides a practical background to LIS education and training, and to work situations both for new and recent entrants to the profession, and for those working towards UK NVQ and City & Guilds qualifications and also for those in first year undergraduate LIS courses.

Key skills and competencies are dealt with for a wide range of posts and duties in LIS, an overview of the service provides useful summaries of the different sectors within LIS.

Chapter six “The stock of libraries” provides a useful account of collection management systems, stock control, maintenance, cataloguing, classification schemes and information types. A bibliography at the end of the chapter lists key reference sources and contains some 40 plus essential reference works in both hardcopy and electronic formats. Invaluable for enquiry work, this standard material includes subject bibliographies, statistical sources, official publications and publishing information, both UK and international.

Certain areas need developing, especially some sections which describe or compare procedures in the different LIS sectors, for example the section on quality assurance in the chapter on evaluation provides detailed information on the charter mark, ISO9000 and “library‐led” evaluation systems , yet summarises the very important HEFCE quality and assessment procedures in academic libraries in just two sentences.

Chapter nine “Information and communications technology” describes library management systems and many aspects of library housekeeping procedures as well as information retrieval systems, Internet etc. – any comprehensive coverage of this area is difficult in the constantly changing, dynamic state of electronic provision and delivery; this chapter may seem dated depending on the readers home library facilities, for example the section on the Internet, in my opinion, underestimates its use in academic libraries.

Overall however the book satisfies the authors’ objectives to underpin the formal training of those studying on LIS courses. I would recommend it as essential reading for all LIS students, at whatever level, and would suggest it is a useful aide‐mémoire for those in their first professional post; the clear layout and index make it easy to dip in and select information quickly.

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