Academic journal article Journal of Library Innovation

Understanding Librarians: Communication Is the Issue

Academic journal article Journal of Library Innovation

Understanding Librarians: Communication Is the Issue

Article excerpt

Understanding Librarians: Communication is the Issue Barbara Hull, Ed. Oxford: Chandos, 2011 (distributed in North America by Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.). 182 pp. ISBN: 978-1-84334-615-9. $85.00.

Communication barriers swarm all around us in both our professional and personal lives. Some can be as obvious as people speaking different languages, while others, such as library anxiety, are much more subtle. Dr. Barbara Hull's book, Understanding Librarians: Communication is the Issue, strives to illuminate and address the issue of communication barriers in public and academic library settings.

This book can be informally split into two separate sections. The first looks at common communication barriers encountered in the library while the second puts forth ideas that could be used to avoid or solve the previously described communication problems. Each chapter is broken down into small, easily digested chunks of information, normally not any longer than two pages. This arrangement makes the book very easy to read in short bursts (perhaps in between helping patrons at a not too busy reference desk). Additionally, when returning to the book in search of particular passages, I actually found myself using the detailed table of contents rather than the index, like I normally would. This excellent arrangement of the book demonstrates that the book was cer-tainly written by a librarian for librarians.

Specific communication barriers addressed in the first section include those resulting from psychological, social class, education, language, literacy, numeracy, technology, and disability issues. All chapters presented on topical, although not particularly innova-tive, information. Even though I wasn't shocked by any of the communication barriers discussed by the author, it was helpful to see them all listed in one resource. After all, as the 1980s G.I. Joe cartoon stated, "Now you know, and knowing is half the battle." A word of warning: it was ironic that I had a somewhat difficult time understanding por-tions of the book due to the use of British jargon after the author clearly stated that one should avoid technical jargon when dealing with patrons. …

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