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Book reviews.

Two recent books on public libraries published by Ashgate in the UK complement each other well. Their orientation is British, but the issues they cover arc universal as arc the responses they propose. At 60 [pounds sterling] each, they are not cheap but there are modest profits to be made from library and information science publishing--I know. Invest in both of them if you can. You will have a wealth of information, perspectives and solutions to the service, organizational and building challenges facing all public libraries.

The first is Loughborough University Anne Goulding's Public libraries in the 21st century: defining services and debating the future ISBN 0 7546 4286 0. This 2006 nicely presented and seemingly typo free 400 page book presents a comprehensive analysis of the impact of policy initiatives in the UK directly targeted at public libraries and which arc finding a similar focus in New Zealand and Australia. In essence it provides an intellectually rigorous guide to today's worldwide discourse on the identity, social purpose, value and strategy issues facing public libraries. It does this through

* an exploration of the context within which public libraries are operating, and of their unique role

* examples of mostly British best practice in service delivery, which Australian and New Zealand readers will find at minimum interesting, and at best inspiring

* evaluation of the challenges and opportunities for public library managers

* a wide range of information from published and unpublished sources

* an excellent bibliography

* a good index.

No less an international authority than emeritus professor Bob Usherwood from the University of Sheffield describes Public libraries in the 21st century as 'a work destined to be on the student reading lists for many years to come and one that will find a welcome place on the bookshelves of those with more experience of the public library world'. So it should.

The second book was published in 2007. In Planning public library buildings: concepts and issues for the librarian ISBN 0 7546 3388 8, Michael Dewe in 350 pages has managed to cover--and does so very well--just about anything needed to inform the initiation and planning of new and redeveloped public library buildings. It even has something sensible to say about joint use libraries, or as they persist in calling them in the UK, dual use libraries. Yes, again it has a UK emphasis, but its scope and findings are universal, as attested by the index entries for New Zealand and Australia. Among its chapters arc

* missions and roles

* sources of renewal and innovation

* service point provision, size and shape

* location, location, location

* alternatives to new buildings

* sustainability, safety, security and systems

* planning, design and construction

* key qualities in design and evaluation

* identity, communication and style

* the library interior.

It has a useful bibliography and a worthwhile index, although the bibliography has not picked up the invaluable latest 2005 edition of the Library Council of NSW's People places: a guide for library buildings in NSW

One UK reviewer has described Planning public library buildings as 'the new bible of public library planning'. If you arc considering or planning a new or redeveloped public library building, read this book and the second edition of People places, and then persuade your council's officers and library architects--to do so. If they do not then understand what modem public libraries are about, they surely never will.
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Author:Bundy, Alan
Publication:Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services
Date:Sep 1, 2007
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