John Berry: review of Introduction to Public Librarianship

Well, Happy New Year!

McCook, Kathleen de la Peña Introduction to Public Librarianship. Neal-Schuman . 2004. c.304p. bibliog. index. ISBN 1-55570-475-1 . pap. $59.95. This gargantuan effort by one of this country's most insightful and productive library educators is the first comprehensive textbook that addresses the full dimensions of public librarianship in America, adding substantial information about administrative structures, legal bases, funding sources, programs, and services. McCook's viewpoint is academic and institutional, but despite her dependence on what may be the most extensive and intensive literature search, she corrects parts of the record. The role of women in public library history finally gets the in-depth attention it deserves as does the relationship of libraries with other institutions and with society at large. The part played by library associations, particularly by the American Library Association and its Public Library Association unit, is given more weight than necessary. McCook also overemphasizes the importance of the American Library Trustee Association, to which only a small percentage of U.S. library trustees belong. Also missing is coverage of the library press. While useful for students, the overabundance of graphs, charts, and appendixes will be obstacles to casual readers. But these are mere quibbles when the work as a whole is a treasure, an essential tool for the LIS teacher. The appendix of suggested readings alone is worth the price. Kudos to McCook for this massive reservoir of original research and thoughtful analysis that will serve as a corrective to its less-thorough predecessors.—John Berry, Library Journal

December 10, 2004