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In Theory: Recommended Readings for Librarianship

by on July 12, 2016

It’s easy to lose focus on the theoretical principles behind librarianship after completing library school. Hailley Fargo’s recent article for Hack Library School, “The Theory Behind My Librarianship,” lists several of the readings she found impactful during her graduate school career.[1] While most librarians’ foundational resources will likely vary due to their unique specializations, the importance of professional literature to our field does not change.

Fargo’s favorites touch upon engagement, informatics, and technology in academic libraries. I have always worked in public libraries and specialized in youth services for my MLIS, so mine are somewhat different. Despite our variations in content, I was struck by Fargo’s idea of maintaining a folder of “influential readings” at home; this is a great way to organize articles you plan to return to over the course of your career. Since reading her article, I have created a Dropbox folder with some of my favorite articles so I can view them from anywhere.

Here are a few of the professional readings that have influenced me the most and continue to shape my ideologies as a librarian:

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (2011) by Sherry Turkle
Turkle’s work is not explicitly about libraries, but it discusses technology’s impact on interpersonal relationships. Although her findings are somewhat grim, they provided me with a strong understanding of the psychological effects technology has on our patrons and how to leverage this to best meet their needs.[2]

Crash Course in Storytelling (2007) by Kendall F. Haven and MaryGay Ducey
This was a required reading in my storytelling course, which I took to help me prepare for storytime, but it has helped me with all aspects of public speaking. Storytelling skills are essential for sharing your library’s message to patrons, administration, and local government.[3]

The Accidental Library Manager (2005) by Rachel Singer Gordon
Many library managers, myself included, become supervisors by accident. When personnel changes at my previous library forced me into my first directorship unexpectedly, I found myself referring back to this reading selection from my grad school management class. Gordon’s advice is practical yet general enough that it can be applied to many different types of libraries and archives.[4]

The Black Belt Librarian: Real-World Safety & Security (2012) by Warren Davis Graham
I actually found this book after earning my MLIS when I saw Graham speak at 2014’s PLA Conference in Indianapolis. Graham speaks honestly from many years of experience and offers successful strategies for handling security at your library, a must-have, given current events.[5]

Storytelling in the Context of Modern Library Technology” (2009) by Kelly Czarnecki
Czarnecki’s article paints a very real picture of the changes technology has brought to modern libraries, how services are affected, and how to adjust accordingly.[6]

Do you find yourself referring back to certain professional readings? Which pieces of theory have helped shape your career? Let us know in the comments!

[1] Hailley Fargo, “The Theory Behind My Librarianship,” Hack Library School, May 10, 2016.
[2] Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (New York: Basic Books, 2011).
[3] Kendall F.Haven and MaryGay Ducey, Crash course in storytelling (Westport: Libraries Unlimited, 2007).
[4] Rachel Singer Gordon, The accidental library manager (Medford: Information Today, 2005).
[5] Warren Graham, The black belt librarian: real-world safety & security (Chicago: American Library Association, 2012).
[6] Kelly Czarnecki, “Storytelling in the Context of Modern Library Technology,” Library Technology Reports 45, no. 7 (2009): 9–14.

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