09_reviews

Book Reviews

Nicole A. Cooke. Information Services to Diverse Populations: Developing Culturally Competent Library Professionals. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Libraries Unlimited, 2017. 166p. Paper, $65.00 (ISBN 978-1-4408-3460-8). LC 60-31669.

Book cover: Information Services to Diverse Populations: Developing Culturally Competent Library Professionals

Information Services to Diverse Populations is designed to provide a foundational understanding of diversity issues for LIS graduate students, but it can also serve as an important resource for current library professionals who may not have had an opportunity to study diversity and social justice issues. The book primarily focuses on developing cultural competencies in library practice and is suitable for all library staff, not only those occupying patron-facing positions. Developing inclusive library services and support for diversity across all library organizations should be a primary goal of all information professionals, and this book is able to provide a strong foundation for developing organizational empathy, creating the foundation for accessible and equitable services, and establishing libraries that are actively welcoming to all patrons.

Nicole A. Cooke brings depth and breadth to this topic from her years of research in this area and through preparation for several courses in diversity that she has developed as an assistant professor at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. The book follows the form of a deep study in library and information services for diverse populations and includes appendices with suggested readings and a sample syllabus so that LIS faculty members can develop their own courses on this topic. Cooke stresses in the preface that diversity cannot be seen as a trend in librarianship and must be woven into the fabric of the profession from education through practice. This holistic perspective on diversity is evident in the organization of the book, which outlines a multifaceted and organizationwide strategy for making libraries more diverse.

The book opens with a discussion of foundational concepts in diversity including a close examination of where librarianship currently stands and why pursuing more diversity in our profession and practice is a worthy goal. The second chapter provides a broad education in theory that touches on concepts like privilege and intersectionality to give readers a context to understand diversity concepts. The next two chapters discuss marginalized groups in libraries and how to improve library services to meet the needs of all patrons. Chapter 5 focuses on library management issues including hiring, professional development, and LIS education. The final chapter focuses on the future, outlining a plan for changing the narrative of diversity in librarianship. The appendices are particularly aimed at readers using this material as a curriculum and provide a number of additional readings and lesson plans.

The book contains sections specific to different marginalized groups within the library including patrons who belong to racial, ethnic, and cultural minority groups, patrons who may access services differently due to age, disability, or neural diversity, international students and new Americans, LGBTQ patrons, patrons who are homeless or impoverished, and those who are incarcerated. These sections are concise but informative and cite sources that focus on each of these user groups specifically. In the services section, Cooke applies service recommendations to these user groups for reference and instruction and further discusses marketing and assessment for diversity. This approach allows for a broad understanding of some of the primary challenges facing libraries that embrace diversity, but it also provides enough depth that practicing librarians can draw insights from this description.

Cooke is particularly powerful in the sixth chapter, where she explores stories of librarianship and the importance of cultivating stories that expand and diversify the dominant narrative of libraries. This chapter includes her own story of the challenges of moving through the ranks of librarianship and academia as an African American woman and choosing to engage, educate, and succeed through both subtle and overt aggression and racism. Cooke advocates for developing a diversity of stories as a profession and integrating these counter narratives to the dominant stereotypes throughout the development of librarians, beginning with library education.

Information Services to Diverse Populations provides a clear and comprehensive description of the landscape of diversity in librarianship as a profession and service. This book is particularly appropriate for library and information science graduate students and can function as a foundational text even for those students who do not have a background in critical theory. This is also an important book for contemporary librarianship and for developing librarians. Gaining a strong understanding of the need for diversity and the tools to support it in service, mentorship, and practice is a critical step in building a more diverse profession.—Laura Costello, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Copyright Laura Costello


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