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RDA: Strategies for Implementation 

El-Sherbini, Magda (2013)
Chicago, IL: American library Association (ALA)
ALA Editions
408 pages
ISBN 9780838911686




This RDA handbook is a welcome addition to the growing collection of resources available to those looking for help with the new cataloguing code, Resource Description and Access (RDA). The guide aims for comprehensiveness, rather than abridgement or simplification, which might make it more useful for a technical services manager in a larger library, than for the typical school librarian. Nevertheless, the author writes both clearly and authoritatively.

The first chapter provides the background to RDA’s development and outlines the concepts underpinning it, while chapter two enumerates the differences between AACR2 and RDA, helpful to existing cataloguers. Chapter three, which discusses RDA implementation, is one of the most useful and original chapters in the book, covering training, policy decisions and system considerations. The following chapter provides an overview of the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) model, key to understanding and navigating RDA. 

The fifth chapter is titled, ‘Identifying manifestations and items’, but is actually about all the rules in RDA pertaining to manifestations and items, not just those that relate to their identification. Likewise, the sixth chapter is not just about ‘identifying’, and covers all the rules pertaining to works and expressions; in fact, it covers all the remaining rules in RDA, including those relating to authority control. This part of the handbook, which is essentially a commentary on the rules, could have been organised more helpfully and less confusingly; the reader may prefer to use one of the alternative commentaries available. 

Chapter seven provides an in-depth and illustrated guide to using the RDA Toolkit, the online version of the code. Examples of bibliographic and authority records applying RDA (and MARC 21) follow, while the final chapter offers some (thorough) cataloguing checklists, via OCLC and the Library of Congress. The book includes a bibliography and a useful index. 

Reviewed by Associate Professor Philip Hider
Head of School: School of Information Studies
Charles Sturt University
Member of the
Synergy Board


Marketing Your Library’s Electronic Resources

Marie R. Kennedy and Cheryl LaGuardia (2013)
Chicago, Neal Schuman, imprint of ALA
177pages, pb.
Series: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians
ISBN 9781555708894
Available at



Marie Kennedy and Cheryl LaGuardia, both long-time, widely –experienced librarians, are more than well qualified to compile a ‘How-To-Do-It’ manual. Their joint experience is evident in this manual which leads the reader, step by step, through a carefully devised program for marketing the electronic resources of your library. Of course, being organisational experts, and of an entrepreneurial bent, they are not coy about borrowing business tactics best suited to their interests. Hence the ‘marketing’ approach, which of course, requires a plan: ‘an ongoing circular process of assessment, advertisement, training (for staff), instruction (for researchers), assessment advertisement, and so on’. Kennedy and LaGuardia are firm believers that this process should involve all members of library staff and include patrons as well. Their enthusiasm for this manual is based on the fact that, for them, their process strategy has proved so successful. Indeed, they claim the template described within their manual will work equally well for initiating any number of other new projects and, in their experience, its efficiency and accountability has earned them kudos from senior administrators, their patrons and their staff. They emphasise the necessity of sticking faithfully to the steps of the plan. This involves a lot of work, as they freely acknowledge, but this prospect is softened by their collegial approach, friendly style of communication and by their confidence that readers will reap due rewards.

The text is organised in two parts. Part One, being the major body of the work, constitutes the most substantial part of the book. It is composed of six chapters which lead the reader through the processes of ‘How to Design Your Market Plan’: the importance of detailed pre-planning starting with a thorough assessment of current E-resources; clearly defined goals; identification of key steps towards fashioning a market plan; strategies for implementing the plan; maintaining formative documentation throughout the processes for the purposes of report writing; and then, always returning to assessment. The detailed nature of these chapters indicates the author’s conviction that success is dependent upon thorough planning and conscientious execution of their advice. This is offered against a background of experiential evidence, tried and true strategies, ample affirmation drawn from professional literature and supportive references, as well as multiple figures and tables demonstrating model templates for various purposes. 

Part Two offers four sample reports of marketing plans, including Appendices, designed for: an All-Electronic library, two public libraries and one university library. Wide margins for all pages are populated by numerous information boxes containing Chapter outlines, Web Extras, further snippets of information and plenty of room for reader’s notes. An Index is also included.

In the Preface, the authors state that their strategies are applicable for every sort of library, whether academic, public, school or special. Nevertheless, the scale of their proposition seems to presume the services of a dedicated e-resources librarian, and also to be designed more to suit large libraries servicing a considerable population base. Even so, that is no reason why their sound principles might not also usefully serve a more modest sized school library, given sufficient staffing to manage such a project. 

Reviewed by Dr Susan Boyce
Member of the
Synergy Board


Transforming Young Adult Services

Bernier, Anthony (Editor) (2013)
Chicago, IL: American library Association (ALA)
254 pages
ISBN 978-1-55570-907-5
Available from:



The editor of this book, Anthony Bernier, is Associate Professor at California’s San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science. Bernier’s main field of research explores the administration of library services for young people and teenagers. In relation to this, Transforming Young Adult Services initiates discussion about how Young Adult (YA) professionals perceive young adults or teenagers.

One contention is that librarianship ‘has failed to sufficiently or clearly define its core audience of YAs.’ (p. xiii) Instead, the field has simply borrowed from other disciplines the ideas about who YAs are and what they need. It is time that librarianship defines its users independently from Psychology, Education, Sports Science or the criminal justice system and articulate a professional YA service vision.

Various writers expand on studies in youth services and YA librarianship to inform the reader of topics in YA practice: youth identity and formation, YA materials and collections, youth development, race, youth participation, intergenerational connections, critical perspectives on youth studies, intellectual freedom, and professional ethics. The main question is: ‘How should LIS imagine today’s young adults?’ (p. xvi) Most of the book’s material relates directly to public libraries, although school libraries and media specialists will find the content relevant.

The ten essays in Transforming Young Adult Services examine the historical legacies and assumptions, especially the influence of developmental psychology, which underpin the delivery of YA services. An adult-centred perspective, for example, dominates both the research and practice in YA librarianship. Adults determine what is ‘best’ for teenagers with an emphasis on collecting and recommending award-winning materials together with adults judging the award designations. 

Instead, a ‘teen centred’ approach is advocated, in which there is direct, youth participation in program and service design; research relying on teenagers as research subjects or participants; and, library programs and services which are based on this research. Teenage behaviour, thoughts and preferences (rather than the information resources and centres), would serve as the main sources for research data. The age group itself would determine what resources and services best fit their teenage needs and interests.

Chapter one offers a comprehensive analysis of the current literature in library services for teenagers. This, however, is an adult-centred practice when a focus on youth experiences is needed. Other essays or chapters emphasise youth identity together with the implications of white racial privilege in defining the YA library, using the main population or ‘youth as full partners with libraries in intergenerational efforts across the institution’s larger civic arena.’ (p. xx)

Chapter eight explores the stereotypes that librarianship has long taken for granted and which have largely defined YA services. A later chapter asks how librarianship should align itself ethically in addressing youth rights and intellectual freedom. Topics include intellectual freedom and rights for individual use, together with protection of privacy for YAs and legal responsibilities for minors in schools. The conclusion offers a ‘LIS-specific vision of YAs-as-citizens’ approach (p. 229) to position the library for current youth relevance and decision-making.

Transforming Young Adult Services is well organised and highly successful in the ideas it presents. It encourages the reader to question all YA services, their origins, goals and implementation in favour of a much greater role taken by teenagers in transforming their library spaces, programs and collections. The book has definitely achieved its aim to propel forward the discussion of YA services and their future vision. Moreover, this book is a breakthrough in questioning and evaluating every assumption and technique in YA services. 

Reviewed by Dr Robin Zeidler
Director of Library and Information Services
The Nigel Peck Centre for Learning and Leadership
Melbourne Grammar School
Member of the
Synergy Board


Information Literacy Instruction that Works: A Guide to Teaching by Discipline and Student Population

Ragains, Patrick (Editor) (2013)
Second Edition
360 pages, Softcover
$85.00 (US)
ISBN 9781555708603



Information is ubiquitous, at our fingertips with anytime/anyplace access through mobile computing. The need for information literacy skills that equip a researcher with the ability to ‘dig beneath the surface’ and find, analyse and use information specific to their subject, from a broad range of sources, has never been greater. 

Information Literacy Instruction that Works: A Guide to Teaching by Discipline and Student Population provides the tools and framework for successful instruction by information literacy educators in both academic and public libraries. At first glance it appears to be quite text heavy, however, the reader quickly discovers the wealth of knowledge and experience contained within. Edited by Patrick Ragains, this second edition contains approximately 75 percent of new content as a response to changes in our ‘understanding of students and how they learn, library technology and available resources’.

A comprehensive table of contents reveals the organisation of the text into four major parts:

Part I explains the concept and importance of information literacy instruction for student success. It contains advice on planning, potential pitfalls and methods of instruction supported by underlying educational theory. Changed forms of content delivery such as ‘web-scale discovery’ platforms, Google Scholar and the role of the library catalogue and website are discussed. Suggested strategies for successful collaboration between librarians and teachers to integrate skills into course content are both practical and frank, with an insistence that ‘the most effective path to meaningful instructional time with them [students] is through the teaching faculty’.

Part II focuses on ‘teaching techniques and programmatic strategies for information literacy instruction’ with Information Literacy Standards for post-secondary level students. Specific activities are suggested for teaching each standard. Ideas for adapting teaching methods and resources for students with disabilities and those engaged in online and distance learning are also contained within these chapters.

Part III outlines information literacy instruction in support of common subjects. Prepared by experienced teachers, it is designed to equip librarians with the necessary skills to teach information literacy within a specific subject discipline. The eleven disciplines range from English Literature, Art, History and Film Studies to Scientific Literacy and Business. Extra disciplines included in this edition are Music, Anthropology and Engineering. 

Each chapter identifies research characteristics of each discipline, its scope, what should be taught with sample lessons, and a comprehensive list of suggested resources. The increasing complexity of research is acknowledged as core resources are no longer utilised, and ‘the electronic universe poses challenges for students grappling with an abundance of resources at their disposal.’ This section of the handbook will assist librarians to relate discipline-specific information to general information literacy standards and performance indicators.

Part IV, provides the reader with basic familiarity with legal, patent and government information and support on teaching the pertinent research skills. This section of the book is of less value to an Australian librarian or information literacy skills instructor as, being a United States publication, it relates to that region. The reader can, however, gain an overview of the patent system for instance, and apply that knowledge to their local situation.

This handbook would be a valuable asset to any teachers, librarians or instructors responsible for information literacy instruction, whether they are new to the field or experienced. Whilst the focus is post-secondary studies, the depth of explanation and range of resources provided would benefit an educator within the K-12 education sector. 

The Language used is from the North American education system, but is not so dissimilar to the Australian system as to create confusion.

Extensive reference lists with each chapter and a comprehensive index add value to this publication. Further resources are available online as Web Extras. These files include sample lessons, topical lists of journals and instructional videos which readers are able to use or adapt for their own teaching. The inclusion of this additional resource will ensure the currency of this publication within a rapidly evolving information environment. 

I recommend this publication as an invaluable resource for all educators, librarians, teacher-librarians and educators with responsibility for information literacy skills instruction. My only criticism is its text-heavy format. The wealth of information and advice contained within, however, obviates this one negative aspect.  

Reviewed by Camilla Elliott
Head of Library/ eLearning Coordinator
Mazenod College, Mulgrave
Member of the
Synergy Board