Book Reviews

G. Edward Evans and Holland Christie. Managerial Leadership for Librarians: Thriving in the Public and Nonprofit World. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited, 2017. 377p. Paper, $65.00 (ISBN 9781440841705).

Book cover for Managerial Leadership for Librarians

Managerial Leadership for Librarians: Thriving in the Public and Nonprofit World by G. Edward Evans and Holland Christie is an excellent primer for library students and professionals who are looking for a broad and comprehensive understanding of the role that leadership and management play in the public and nonprofit library world. The book itself has 20 chapters covering a number of different topics. This may seem overwhelming, but the authors have done a good job of organizing the text around four assumptions. First, the reader must understand the core concepts of managing an organization. Second, the reader must understand the core management functions and activities. From that, the third assumption is possible. The third assumption addresses the landscape in which the managerial leader operates and focuses on different elements of the environment, like governing boards, fundraising, and the like. Finally, the fourth assumption illustrates the importance of the managerial leaders continually seeking to improve their craft. The reason for this is that the better a managerial leader is, the better the organization in which they lead. Using these four assumptions as a guide, it is possible to provide an overview of the book and the underlying conceptual frameworks used for each section.

The beginning chapters of the book address the underlying concepts related to the managerial leader. The first chapter serves as a primer for understanding the terms that are used. In this chapter, the authors discuss the differences among public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Chapter 2 provides a discussion on management and leadership; it serves as the foundation for understanding the remaining elements of the book. Chapters 3 and 4 address ideas surrounding persuasion, power, and authority, respectively. At the close of chapter 4, the authors move to the third assumption of describing the different elements of the environment that the manager of a public or nonprofit library will need to understand.

The middle section of the book focuses on the third assumption, introducing the practical components that a managerial leader will interact with during their time as a leader. As the reader progresses through chapters 5 to 14, they find that the authors address relationships with advisory councils, fundraising, fiscal matters, and project management, to name a few of the topics covered. The lobbying section in chapter 12 is an interesting addition, since the discussion of advocacy also occurs in that chapter. Typically, advocacy and lobbying are considered the same concept with different audiences, whereas in this chapter they are treated as two different ideas. Additionally, chapter 13 introduces the need for political skills. This chapter also has a good discussion around the importance of political skills, both internal and external, to the organization. The distinctions among advocacy, lobbying, and politics in these chapters provide unique insights into how to balance these relationships as a managerial leader.

The remaining chapters of the book confront the challenge of continued development. The chapters in this section deal with understanding of self, negotiation, collaboration, training, and development. These chapters address the fourth assumption: that being a successful managerial leader necessitates excellence in the concepts and skills of leadership. These concepts and skills can be developed and transmitted from within organizations using the ideas and understanding gained from chapters 15 through 20.

The book in general is organized well and follows the four assumptions mentioned in the introduction. Within each chapter are a series of cutouts and dialog boxes that serve to reinforce the ideas being discussed and to provide the reader with additional resources to consider. One critique that could be offered concerning this book is the fluidity in which the authors use the words “leader” and “manager.” Each of these terms has a great deal of scholarship and conceptual ideation associated with them. It seems that, in this book, a good manager can become a good leader if they understand how to do the job well. However, there is a lot of scholarship that would argue that one could be a good leader and a bad manager or vice versa. By conflating the terms together as managerial leader, it provides an opportunity for confusion on behalf of the reader. A clear distinction between leader and manager and how these concepts relate to each other is the only critique that can be offered on an otherwise excellent primer of the role of management, the tasks involved in management, and the road to success in management. It is a worthy read for any library professional in a leadership or managerial role.—Ryan Litsey, Texas Tech University

Copyright Ryan Litsey

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