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Logo of jmlaJournal informationSubscribeSubmissions on the Publisher web siteCurrent issue of JMLA in PMCAlso see BMLA journal in PMC
J Med Libr Assoc. 2009 October; 97(4): 320–321.
PMCID: PMC2759171

Access, Delivery, Performance: The Future of Libraries Without Walls

Reviewed by Sally A. Harvey, MLS, AHIP

Jillian R. Griffiths, Jenny Craven, editors.
Access, Delivery, Performance: The Future of Libraries Without Walls.
London, UK: Facet Publishing. 2009. 238 p. $125.00.  ISBN: 978-1-85604-647-3.

This work is a scholarly tribute honoring the career of Peter Brophy, who retired as professor in 2008 from the Centre for Research in Library and Information Management, Department of Information and Communications, at Manchester Metropolitan University. The book begins with a chapter by Michael Buckland discussing Brophy's early career and influence at the Library Research Unit at the University of Lancaster in the early 1970s. A rather extensive survey of the funding travails, research interests, and work of the Library Research Unit is covered in the chapter. It also includes a discussion of their research measuring book availability and collection bias. The book then splits into four themes: “Libraries, Learning and Distance Learning”; “Widening Access to Information”; “Changing Direction of Information Delivery”; and “Performance, Quality and Leadership.” The topics are presented in reverse chronological order and help illustrate the contributions made by Brophy to the profession throughout his career.

The first theme is developed by an overview of the history of library services and distance learning at Open University and the integration of library services into the curriculum. Another chapter explores distance learning as well as institutional repositories and electronic portfolios. The “Widening Access to Information” theme is presented in three chapters exploring library services to the visually impaired, the public library and its place in social movements, and social networking. Theme three, “Changing Direction of Information Delivery,” consists of two chapters, one discussing institutional repositories, their usefulness and challenges, and the other devoted to a discussion of controlled vocabularies, a historical perspective as well as new uses. Theme four, “Performance, Quality and Leadership,” is covered in three chapters. The first is a detailed description of a web-based decision-making and evaluation tool geared toward leaders of public libraries. The second chapter in this theme discusses quality and assessment of academic library resources. The third devotes itself to leadership and the definition, theories, and need for such in academic librarianship and beyond in the wider academy and profession. The book ends with a selected bibliography of Brophy.

This book is not a “how to” manual on building a library without walls and does not have much immediate, practical application. Rather, the work provokes one to think in terms of the future of libraries and their attempts to remain relevant to their users in the world of ever-changing technology. One could also gain ideas from the book for research projects that either replicate past projects or utilize the new technologies discussed. Individual chapters could also be useful in courses teaching librarianship and information science, as each is a stand-alone essay that addresses timely topics in librarianship. In short, the book seems a fitting tribute to a UK colleague who contributed much to the profession during his career.

Articles from Journal of the Medical Library Association : JMLA are provided here courtesy of Medical Library Association