Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

The Academic Library Administrator's Field Guide

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

The Academic Library Administrator's Field Guide

Article excerpt

The Academic Library Administrator's Field Guide. By Bryce Nelson. Chicago: ALA, 2014. 224 p. $70 (ISBN: 978-0-8389-1223-2).

Library administration is a learned skill. Aspiring library leaders can certainly read about management theory in library school, but it's impossible for them to effectively navigate the terrain until they land that first job as an administrator and begin getting on-the-job training. That being said, some guides can help chart the way. The Academic Library Administrator's Field Guide, a new addition to the corpus, is an excellent resource for newbies and more experienced hands.

Author Bryce Nelson, an experienced library administrator in academic and K-12 library settings, has packed quite a bit of useful and thought-provoking information and advice into a small package. The Field Guide is organized under three general areas of administrative responsibility: political effectiveness, staff management, and supervision of basic operations. Each area contains brief chapters (generally 4-5 pages) focused on key topics, including organizational charts, hiring, communication, websites and social media, and assessment. Each topic is presented in a standard format: assertion (a conceptual statement about the topic), commentary (observations and context), application (examples of good practices), and reading (suggestions for further research). Although this structure is perhaps a bit formal, it does serve the purpose of helping the reader easily and quickly navigate to needed information within each section.

The author's own professional experience is apparent in his inclusion of some topics rarely featured in these types of guides, especially in the section dealing with staff management. …

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