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Huber, John J. Lean Library Management: Eleven Strategies for Reducing Costs and Improving Customer Services.

Huber, John J. Lean Library Management: Eleven Strategies for Reducing Costs and Improving Customer Services. New York, NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers; 2011. 175 p. $70.00. ISBN: 978-1-55570-732-3.

John J. Huber is a management consultant and was on the forefront of introducing the Toyota Production System to manufacturing some thirty years ago. "Lean Management," the concept behind this book, developed out of the Toyota Production System and is best summarized by Huber as follows: "Lean is a very simple concept: constantly strive to reduce the distance between you and your customer by eliminating all of the waste in your service delivery cycle" (p. xiv).

The book opens with an introduction to Lean Management principles and moves quickly to identify eleven strategies for applying these principles in libraries, including the following:

* Recognize that service performance is the key to customer retention.

* Transform your change-resistant culture.

* Understand how delivery service chains drive your library's performance.

* Align your performance metrics with your delivery service chains.

* Transform your new book delivery service chain.

* Transform your customer holds and reserves delivery service chain.

* Transform your cost control philosophy to a lean service improvement philosophy.

* Transform your overall library service performance metrics.

* Transform your digital research delivery service chain.

* Transform your delivery service chain from a "push" to a "pull" philosophy.

* Think lean before the concrete is poured.

The Lean Management techniques that have been used to streamline manufacturing, distribution, and retail can be applied to the library environment. These strategies were time-tested in successful companies such as McDonald's, Amazon, and Google. These real-life examples are used to clarify specific points. Readers should not be put off by some of the business jargon, such as using "delivery service chains" to describe library work flows. It is refreshing to see library processes and procedures through the eyes of someone who is not a library insider and who can bring a fresh perspective to solving common problems.

There are many parallels between working in libraries and manufacturing, distribution, or retail, which is why these Lean Management principles work so well. Huber illustrates these concepts with diagrams, tables, and flowcharts. He takes readers through streamlining several library projects step-by-step so that readers understand how these processes can be applied in their own libraries. Lean Management helps readers recognize the gap between current and desired performance measures and uses quantitative analyses, teamwork, and pilot studies to close this gap.

Even though the case studies discussed in the book describe public and academic libraries, the principles are easily applied to health sciences libraries of all types. The strategies that particularly resonated for this reviewer were strategies 2, 9, and 10. Who hasn't struggled with managing change and motivating staff to accept new work flows? When was the last time you reviewed the number of steps it takes your customers to get a portable document format (PDF) file of a journal article? Does the adoption of patron-driven acquisition for some collection development activities mean that selectors are no longer needed?

Huber helps readers recognize that the library is a complex organization that competes for customers with industry leaders such as Google and Amazon, especially in today's environment where customers expect to receive immediate service. For a library to thrive, or even survive, in this economy, customer service must be a priority. Read this thought-provoking book to find out how your library can improve customer satisfaction and library services and save money along the way.

Marian T. Simonson, MLS, AHIP,, Cleveland Clinic Alumni Library, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH

DOI: 10.3163/1536-5050 .100.3.017</DO>
COPYRIGHT 2012 Medical Library Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Simonson, Marian T.
Publication:Journal of the Medical Library Association
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jul 1, 2012
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