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Complete Copyright for K-12 Librarians and Educators

Russell, Carrie (2012)

Chicago, IL.: American Library Association (ALA)

173pages, paperback

ISBN 9780838910832

Available at




Carrie Russell is a member of the ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy. As director for the Office’s Program on Public Access to Information Policy, her best seller Complete Copyright: an Everyday Guide for Librarians has already achieved second edition status. If school librarians and media specialists are not aware of this work, they may be familiar with her conference presentations or her popular monthly column in School Library Journal: ‘Carrie on Copyright’.  Given her track record, it seems Carrie Russell is eminently qualified to advise on the application of copyright law in US educational settings. My reading of this book for K-12 librarians and educators confirms this, and I believe, despite her American context, that other readers will find Russell’s theoretical understanding and philosophical approach provides helpful insight into this topic.


Within school communities, copyright issues are generally considered to fall within the specialist domain of librarians and media specialists. Shouldering the burden of this responsibility, and conscious of the contingence between the principles of copyright law and those of their own professional values, librarians often legislate with protective caution resulting in overly conservative practices. Russell defines her task in this book as making copyright law more understandable to her readers, with the purpose of overcoming long-held fears and misconceptions about copyright law. Because the principles of ‘fair use’ are intended as interpretive guides, rather than black and white rules, Russell suggests that familiarity and confidence in dealing with copyright issues will be best developed through the ongoing practice of consultation and informed decision-making in solving day-to-day situations as they are experienced rather than relying on ‘safe’ lists of set, restrictive rules up-dated by annual in-service counselling. As different issues come under consideration, Russell advises that her model of formative policy-making will inevitably involve discussion and interaction across all levels of the school community: IT technicians, media specialists, teachers, librarians, school administrators, students and Principals. This approach aims to help schools develop a copyright policy, achieved through critical consideration and underpinned by a common understanding of the theoretical construct of copyright law. Ideally, an effective school copyright policy balances the tensions between desire and constraint, between the possibilities of information access and the need to protect learning, between intellectual freedom and set restrictions designed more to avoid legal trouble than to accomplish the school’s educational vision. Russell’s perception of copyright law as a ‘grey’ area - deserving of careful consideration and critical thought, is justified . . .’ because copyright law when misapplied or misinterpreted affects the way that you teach and even what you teach’ (p. vii).


In the service of those librarians who feel unqualified to challenge the intricacies and ambiguities of copyright law, Russell undertakes the onerous task of conveying her considerable knowledge by devising a very palatable format for explicating the whole broad spectrum of copyright law. She constructs the hypothetical Glen Valley High School (Home of the Grizzlies!), its staff, students and a visiting representative of the Copyright Compliance and Anti-Piracy Division of Homeland Security. Within this context, she assembles a sequence of instructive case-study chapters whose situational scenarios cover a comprehensive range of realistic copyright issues and possible solutions. Readers will recognise the range of actors, along with the mix of technological potentials, diverse perspectives, well-meant intentions and characteristic dilemmas associated with the provision of resources, that typically come into play within the context of school, and which inescapably involve copyright law. The scope of these chapters is comprehensive in both breadth and detail: each ‘scenario’ is extensively explored with Question and Answer sections and thorough documentation in separate reference Notes sections. Their practical relevance and the recognisable reality of each situation is due to the fact that they are based on data drawn from the responses of two hundred and eighty librarians to an informal survey conducted by Russell prior to writing this book. The survey was designed to ascertain concerns, anxieties and attitudes about copyright law. Its findings confirmed her contention that school librarians need to overcome their fears of litigation and become stronger advocates for a copyright law that better serves the interest of their communities. These telling chapters are followed by eight useful complementary Appendices. The first replicates the format design and data of the informal survey mentioned above; the rest consist of separate copyright Guidelines for all modes of information delivery and reproduction including multi-media and computer programs. A Glossary and Index also complement the text.  


In her Preface, Russell makes the very salient assertion that “Copyright never catches up to technology. Consistency can be found only in dedication to professional values” (p. vii). I think school librarians and educators will find Russell’s work helpful in understanding their potential to shape a copyright law that actually ‘seeks to help us teach and learn’ (p. viii).


Reviewed by Dr Susan Boyce

Member of the Synergy Board

Twitterspace and Facecloud: Web 2.0 and Beyond for School Librarians

Bradnock, Marianne (Editor) (2012)  

Swindon, UK. School Library Association (SLA)

Case Studies Series

68 pages, paperback

ISBN 9781903446669




Increasingly, Web 2.0 tools play an important role in the classroom as well as in students’ recreational lives. In this book, editor Marianne Bradnock gathers a collection of nine case studies which demonstrate how school librarians can integrate the Web 2.0 platform into their professional practice – at the level of working with teachers, students and curriculum and also at the level of their own professional development.  Three case studies illustrate useful means for organising and sharing resources: for teaching information literacy; skills for creative referencing using Noodletools and screencasting software; efficient planning and organisation of study using Toodledo, Wisemapping and Cramberry. Other examples include the use of Skype and QR Codes for connecting with authors and author videos, as well as other means to promote creative writing and digital storytelling such as Voicethread, Storybird and even Twitter. Finally two case studies address personal professional development by illustrating how to build a professional Learning Network using a broad collection of collaborative tools.


For many school librarians whose schools have been keen to maintain a ‘cutting edge’ profile, these applications might already seem a little elementary. But for those whose school networks are still developing, the voices of these librarians, some of them ‘newbies’ in the sphere of Web 2.0, will be re-assuring, and will provide useful experience and advice. In the final pages, the editor provides a short glossary of Definitions and Examples taken from Wiktionary – as they are at the time of publication, plus a list (with URLs) of helpful tools with a brief description of functions. A further list of ‘print’ references is included, but accompanied by a gentle warning that almost anything in print on Web 2.0+ is likely to be out of date by the time it is printed. Nevertheless, a further editorial note directs readers to helpful online sites guaranteed to provide information about the very latest online applications. 


Reviewed by Dr Susan Boyce

Member of the Synergy Board


Digital Libraries and Information Access: Research Perspectives

Chowdhury, Gobinda G. and Foo, Schubert (Editors) (2012)

Chicago, IL: American Library Association (ALA)

235 pages

ISBN 978-1-55570-914-3

Available at



Digital Libraries and Information Access: Research Perspectives specifically covers information access and interactions in digital libraries. The text aims to be an authoritative source in this field, an important area of research and development. Research challenges and issues continue to evolve and this book explores new research findings and the future importance of digital libraries, with a focus on information access and interactions in such libraries. Based on the editors’ experience and an understanding of the research by various experts in relevant areas, the fifteen chapters examine key research topics.

The DELOS digital library manifesto (Candela et al., 2007) defines a digital library as a combination of:

  • An organisation that collects, manages, preserves digital content and offers its user communities specialised functionality of that content, of measurable quality and according to codified policies;
  • A software system based on a defined architecture and provides all functionality for the digital library;
  • A digital library management system or generic software system that provides the appropriate software infrastructure.

A digital library uses a variety of software, networking technologies and standards to facilitate access to digital content and data to a designated user community. Digital libraries support new kinds of functionality and collaboration activities. Many large digital libraries exist today, for example, the European Library (2011) with 200 million records held in Europe’s national libraries; Europeana (2011) with 20 million digital objects; and, Trove (2011), a digital service of the National Library of Australia with 250 million records.


Early chapters discuss issues related to the architecture of digital libraries; the importance of metadata, with special reference to user interfaces and interaction features of digital libraries; and, various issues related to information access in digital libraries. This latter topic provides a brief review of the literature and research projects to show the trends in research and development activities. Recent changes in the web and social networking technologies have had major implications for the access and use of digital libraries, especially in terms of collaborative search and retrieval.


Social issues, such as the digital divide, social inclusion, information literacy and web accessibility are discussed in Chapter Seven. The next chapter provides an overview of the current trends in research on the interactions between users and digital libraries. One technology that has permeated every part of today’s society is mobile technology, with its provision of digital information services in libraries. Open access and institutional repositories and digitised collections provide a wider dissemination of knowledge.


Chapter Eleven discusses the ongoing research on integrating and expanding subject categories derived from multiple repositories in science and technology, several text classification models and processes for integration based on subject category relationships from different repositories. Usability and user centred design issues, their importance and the associated challenges and research issues relevant to information access and interactions in digital libraries are studied in Chapter Twelve.


Intellectual property and copyright are very important issues related to the design and management of digital libraries. These issues are explored in Chapter Thirteen along with the economic viability of digital information services. Chapter Thirteen is followed by digital preservation and the current research and development activities in this field. Ensuring interoperability among various systems and services remains a major challenge for future access to digital information and data. The final chapter addresses developments in the web, social networking, green ICT and cloud computing technologies along with the digital divide and digital literacy, as socio-economic and political challenges.


Digital Libraries and Information Access: Research Perspectives is a clearly organised book which expands on the significant progress in research and development in digital libraries over the past two decades. This book is well suited as a text and reference item due to its carefully selected scope, balanced focus, chapter reference lists together with future expectations and challenges. It is highly recommended for practitioners studying digital libraries and the research perspectives in this field.


Reviewed by Dr. Robin Zeidler

Director of Library Services

The Nigel Peck Centre for Learning and Leadership

Melbourne Grammar School

Member of the Synergy Board

Audiobooks for Youth: A Practical Guide to Sound Literature

Burkey, Mary (2013)

Chicago, IL.: American Library Association (ALA)

ALA Editions

ISBN 978 0 8389 1157 0

Available at



Audiobooks have been a valuable resource in many school libraries for quite a white now, and not just for the vision-impaired. There has been a debate with some teachers about whether or not listening to an audiobook (being read to) can count as ‘reading’ - that it is somehow cheating. This book helps negate those arguments as well as articulate many more positive reasons for obtaining and using audiobooks with young people.

I, myself, am an avid user of the medium, especially if I am on a long drive. It offers me a way to use such time to keep up with my reading. I try to read as many YA and children’s books as is possible for my job as a teacher-librarian and find audiobooks a great way to read more while engaged in a variety of tasks. I like listening to books being read in any case. As children most of us begin our reading lives by being read to by an adult or older sibling. If I am in my library reading to a class I have often found senior students come over to listen as well. Audiobooks are an extension to this type of activity and they sit very well with a reading culture.


Mary Burkey, the author, is well qualified to write this book. She is a National Board-certified teacher- librarian, has been part of the children’s audiobook world in a variety of capacities, and has a good understanding of her chosen subject.  This is a very thorough, coherent and insightful publication. I found the writing style to be easy to read and very logical in its approach.


Each chapter uses personal experiences to illustrate points. These are either embedded into the text after interviews or displayed as spotlight reflections at the end of each chapter. The latter are short essays by guest authors, narrators, producers and other experts that give insight into the topic of that chapter.


There are 8 clearly defined chapters in the book. They are:

  1. A History of Children’s Audiobooks. A good chapter that puts the evolution of audiobooks into context.
  2. What is an Audiobook? Why Listen? This chapter explores different natural learning styles and argues for using the unique qualities of audiobooks to improve literacy in many ways, across a wide spectrum of readers. At the end of this chapter Bruce Coville’s reflection ‘Love of literature through listening’ is an impassioned piece about the power of the story and our oral traditions.
  3. The Art of the Audiobook: Setting the Stage, Speaking the Page. In this section the early production considerations are outlined. The art of narration was particularly interesting to me as Katherine Kellgren discussed her experiences as a narrator.
  4. Continuing the Path to Production: Editing, Marketing, and the Creativity of Business. This chapter further discusses the process, this time the post-production procedures. This chapter is current including a discussion of the new media form of the audio app.
  5. Developing and Maintaining an Audiobook Collection. Valuable advice is offered for locating audiobooks and what needs to be considered when developing library policies to maintain an audiobooks collection.
  6. Listening with a Critical Ear. This important chapter outlines the qualities of good audio production.
  7. Audiobook Awards and Recognition. Criteria and standards have been developed to recognise good audiobooks. Though this book mentions a few excellent titles it does not offer recommended reading/listening lists. The information in this chapter gives information about the Awards available for good audiobooks. The author recommends investigating these for information that will assist the reader when creating or updating a collection with the best available titles.
  8. Into the Future, Listening to the Past. The whole sound/recording industry continues to evolve as do audiobooks. Audiobooks faced change earlier than the print industry and are further along the spectrum than their print counterparts. The last chapter looks at statistics and trends but is optimistic for the future of stories and storytelling whatever the digital format will be.

Mary Burkey has offered solid evidence in this publication for listening as an alternative reading option not just for students but the whole family. The book is quite short, less than 100 pages, well indexed, with an audiobook lexicon (a very useful glossary for the terminology used by the audiobook industry). There is an appendix of recommended reading for anyone wanting to learn more about the subject. The information in this publication would be applicable to teacher-librarians, children’s librarians or classroom teachers.


Reviewed by Rhonda Powling

Head of Library Services at Whitefriars College

President of the School Library Association of Victoria (SLAV)

Learning from Libraries that Use WordPress: Content-Management System Best Practices and Case-Studies

Jones, Kyle M. L. & Farrington, Polly-Alida (2013)

Chicago, IL.: American Library Association (ALA)
ISBN 978-0-8389-1162-4

Available at



This publication explores the variety of ways libraries can use WordPress as a content-management System.


I, like many people I know, see Wordpress as a very good blogging platform. I also, I suspect like many others, have never considered it as a content-management system. That is until I read this publication. The authors of this publication look at how you can use the software platform in a variety of ways, from simple basic websites to large custom-designed sites with many extra features.


It is divided into 4 sections:

  • Getting started with WordPress
  • Full-on customisation with themes and plugins
  • WordPress cookbooks: tips, tricks and plugins
  • Guest pieces

The book does not assume high level IT skills but it is easier to understand if you have had some experience with the software. The brief history detailing how WordPress developed is followed by speculation about the future. This assists the reader to put things into context.


It is clear from the beginning that the authors generally like the WordPress product; despite this they do identify both the strengths and weaknesses of the software.


The authors have kept the text simple and always emphasise the library-specific perspective of their discourse. Screenshots, where applicable, help explain the text. There are also guidelines for those just starting out.


Once you get a handle on the basics the text contains a range of ideas on expanding your site including how to customise your library site. There is an extensive but coherent discussion of essential plug-ins and other specialised applications for library sites.


I always like to hear about the experiences of others so was pleased to note the inclusion of a variety of case studies. The examples from different libraries detailed why Wordpress was chosen, how the software was implemented, the extent of any customisation and reflections about the useability including feedback from library patrons.


As always is the case with ALA editions, there is a good index to assist the reader. I particularly liked the resources section. It offered plenty of opportunity for further follow-up and individual research, with most of the items available online.


This publication certainly mounts a good argument for considering WordPress as a flexible content-management system, one that has many library applications, but not before the essential homework has been done.


Reviewed by Rhonda Powling

Head of Library Services at Whitefriars College

President of the School Library Association of Victoria (SLAV)


Plans, Practices and Policies: Information Literacy and the Secondary School Library

Dubber, Geoff (2012) 
Swindon, School Library Association (SLA)
ISBN 9781903446621
Available at:




What a great little publication!

With schools currently undertaking curriculum audits in relation to the Australian Curriculum and AusVELS, the reflective practices and planning processes outlined in this publication (although written in response to the changes to the British curriculum) provide a useful framework for teacher-librarians and library teams as they evaluate and amend their current information literacy programs and strategies.

Geoff Dubber starts at the very beginning by identifying familiar scenarios and circumstances that often lead to inaction by the library. From there, he goes on to offer suggestions for where and how to start and, at the same time, challenges teacher-librarians to read widely (providing links to articles and research), understand the new curriculum approaches and implications, and ensure that the library is supporting these learning objectives. Geoff acknowledges the plethora of definitions, terminologies and information literacy models that exist across the school library world and asks the reader to choose the approaches that most appropriately contribute to the curriculum priorities at their school. He then suggests a range of actions and strategies that will assist in promoting and embedding the consistent use of these approaches in all curriculum areas. Chapters such as Curriculum Capture – the basics, Curriculum Capture – school topics and Working with Teaching and Learning Support Colleagues are full of practical ideas and the highlighted text boxes throughout provide action notes and ask questions which allow library staff to reflect on and evaluate the effectiveness of what they are doing.

Chapter Eight, ‘They only use Google and Wikipedia’ discusses the means of teaching effective Google search strategies, using Wikipedia as a means of encouraging opinion-sharing and debate as well as website evaluation and search tool and database awareness. This chapter leads to a brief but nevertheless important discussion of the use of social networking and mobile learning in school libraries that is well-supported by further references to explore and use as benchmarks for assessment of current programs and activities.

Two case studies follow that, although illustrating work in British schools, will resonate with Victorian teacher-librarians and are well worth exploring. A number of appendices are included and I found those entitled Research sequences, A sample of appropriate freeware tools, and KISSING you work makes it better! to be very useful.

Geoff Dubber has worked for many years in England as a teacher and a library advisor and his active involvement as a Board Member and Chair of the School Library Association gives him a very practical bent in his writing for school libraries. He is the author or co-author of many of the SLA guides and this publication builds on that experience and expertise.

Plans, Practices and Policies: Information Literacy and the Secondary School Library, available from the School Library Association (, is both timely and relevant as a tool to support the planning or the implementation of the AusVELS and the Australian Curriculum.


Reviewed by Mary Manning
Education and School Library Consultant and Member of the
Synergy Board 


Building and Maintaining E-Book Collections

Kaplan, Richard (Editor) (2012)
Chicago: Neal – Schuman
(an imprint of the American Library Association)
ISBN 978-1-55570-776-7
Price: $75.00

Richard Kaplan is the current Dean of Library and Learning Resources at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and has extensive experience in academic libraries. He has overseen the conversion of the College library and two branch campus libraries into a predominantly electronic collection. With over 30 years' experience in libraries including Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Buffalo (SUNY), he has an MLS from the University of Albany (SUNY) and has published in the Journal of the Medical Library Association, Medical Reference Services Quarterly, and the Journal of Library Administration.

Building and Maintaining E-book Collections provides a short history of eBooks and a review of the eBook publishing industry and its effect on the selection and budget process of libraries. The book discusses issues in collection development, including the selection process and collection development policies, the use of approval plans, patron-driven acquisition, and practical solutions in creating eBook collection policies. 

Further chapters focus on budgeting and licensing and discuss the pros and cons of ownership versus leasing models, the differences in licensing options from the major publishers and aggregators including information on digital rights management, and strategies for success in retention, access, and budgeting.

This practical and realistic book covers all aspects of this complex area including:

  • eBook purchasing models
  • file formats and publisher/aggregator eBook platforms an examination of display devices (e-readers)
  • best practices in cataloguing eBooks to include metadata
  • insight on incorporating value added features such as adding excerpts from the text, book covers, and links to related resources
  • guidance on library web page and online catalogue access
  • assessment and evaluation strategies, circulation statistics, print collection selection and usage, and user satisfaction.

Kaplan has cleverly sourced multiple perspectives from electronic resource professionals at world-renowned libraries such as Harvard, the University of Michigan, Duke, and North Eastern, to provide in this book a comprehensive and well-rounded e-book education. 

Building and Maintaining E-Book Collections includes the following chapters:

  1. The Electronic Book—Beginnings to the Present
  2. eBook Publishing—A View from the Industry
  3. eBook Publishing—The View from the Library  
  4. eBooks in Public Libraries 
  5. Selecting eBooks 
  6. Licensing of eBooks 
  7. Budgeting for eBooks 
  8. Cataloguing, Locating, and Accessing eBooks 
  9. Assessment and Evaluation of eBook Collections 

Further chapters contain six practical case studies in a variety of settings and offer real world scenarios and helpful tips for implementation. These case studies are from library information professionals in school, public and academic libraries and detail the implementation of e-books in the following settings:

  • Example 1. eBooks in a High School Library—Cushing Academy
  • Example 2. Marketing eBooks in a Public Library—Half Hollow Hills Community Library 
  • Example 3. Circulating eBook Readers—Texas A&M University at Qatar
  • Example 4. Changing Library Staffing Models to Manage E-Collections—George Washington University 
  • Example 5. eBook Access Management Using an ERM System—Oregon Health & Science University
  • Example 6. Accessing and Circulating eBooks with E-Readers—Lesley University

This book provides an overview and analysis of current and emerging trends of the use and development of the eBook. Library and information professionals will learn best practices to guide them in developing library policies and procedures involving the acquisition, purchase, collection development, cataloguing and retention of eBooks. Additionally, thorough guidance is provided on the impact of eBooks on the publishing industry, scholarly communication and its integration into future technologies and social media.

This book is an essential text as we move to greater digitisation of our library collections and the real value of this book lies in the variety of perspectives that have been sourced to provide this comprehensive guide on the implementation of eBooks in our libraries.


Reviewed by Dianne Ruffles
Teacher-librarian at Melbourne Grammar School and a member of the Synergy Board