annotated bibliography for management of information organizations

This term I’m taking LIBR 504: Management of Information Organizations. Our first assignment was to prepare an annotated bibliography including three economics books, three general management books and ten management in information organizations resources. This is what I came up with. (Thanks to my buddy Sean, who knows his shit when it comes to economics and could recommend stuff I’d find interesting, though I’m sure he will find my four-sentence distillations of these books somewhat lacking. Selah.)

Economics Texts

Bowles, S, R Edwards, and F Roosevelt. Understanding capitalism: competition, command, and change. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Print.

Bowles, Edwards and Roosevelt have written an economics textbook that explains the development of capitalism and how it has changed the world for the better and worse. It looks at the history of the discipline along with the issues of income inequality across the globe. The authors take the point of view that political economy is not a simply-bounded domain. It confronts the inadequacies of neoclassical economics that diminish the effect of culture on the way people make decisions. While it explains both micro- and macro-economic forces, it does so from a Marxist perspective that is concerned not just with market values but moral ones.

Harford, T. The undercover economist: exposing why the rich are rich, the poor are poor, and why you can never buy a decent used car. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. Print.

Harford explains how economists think and see the world in this lightly written book for a general audience. It’s filled with many examples to illustrate “perfect markets” and what charging for external costs means. Applying some of these ideas, especially in regards to prices being the best possible indicators of what things are worth in a perfect system, may be unsettling to information professionals dedicated to the ideas of public goods being supported by taxes, but the understanding of hidden costs throughout the book is invaluable.

Lewis, M. The Real Price of Everything: Rediscovering the Six Classics of Economics. New York: Sterling, 2008. Print.

The six economists represented in this collection – Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, David Ricardo, Charles Mackay, Thorstein Veblen and John Maynard Keynes – cover a large chunk of the fundamental texts of economic theory (excepting, of course, Marx). Each writer’s work is prefaced with an introduction situating the work in history and explaining its significance to the development of the field of economics. As Lewis states in his introduction, having these works together in one volume helps to highlight the conversation going on in “the dismal science” and how the ideas we have about how humans make decisions has developed over time. For those in information organizations, Veblen’s ideas of status driving consumption may be the most directly applicable.

Management Texts

Crossan, M M, J N Fry, and J P Killing. Strategic Analysis and Action. 6th ed. Toronto: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005. Print.

This book is about the tools for forming strategies in business. They provide a number of models for analyzing the forces that the manager will have to deal with, with clear goals to identify, define, compare and take action to get things done. It’s a hands-on book that would be best used once the manager has an understanding of the organization’s culture.

Peters, T J, and R H Waterman. In search of excellence: lessons from America’s best-run companies. New York: HarperBusiness Essentials, 2004. Print.

Since this book was written in the 1980s, the top companies examined aren’t necessarily the ones we might think of today, but the eight main things that excellent companies do are still eminently applicable to today’s information organizations, and the writing style using so many case studies and examples makes it very readable. The notions of organizational cultural values being hugely influential, small numbers of staff who are customer-oriented and being “biased towards action” are keys to excellence.

Schein, Edgar H. Organizational Culture and Leadership. 4th ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010. Print.

Schein’s book examines the creation and maintenance of organizational cultures in a very functional anthropological sense. A few organizations are used as case-studies throughout the book to illustrate the concepts as Schein examines how different cultural assumptions lead to differently expressed values which lead to the artifacts of an organizational culture, such as the way a building is organized. This is a book for deeper understanding of the way people understand themselves, how consensus can be built to help manage their functioning, and how change within an organization can also be managed.

Management of Libraries/Information Organizations

Block, Marylaine, ed. Net effects: how librarians can manage the unintended consequences of the Internet. Medford, NJ: Information Today, 2003. Print.

This book takes a position that the internet in libraries can have more to it than one might first think. While this book is from 2003, the issues of access, forming partnerships within the community, staff training, and dealing with disasters are all still important. It is written for the American context, so the sections on laws would need to be supplemented for Canadians.

Carson, P P, K D Carson, and J S Phillips. The library manager’s deskbook: 102 expert solutions to 101 common dilemmas. Chicago: American Library Association, 1995. Print.

This book is set up as a collection of short questions with long answers. The answers tend towards the very generalized, for example, conflict resolution styles are mentioned as being different for different people, but no real solutions are offered. This book is also somewhat out of date, as in its consideration of controlling “moonlighting” in the current economic marketplace. Since it primarily provides commonsense advice, better choices could be made.

“David Lee King – Social web, emerging trends, and libraries.” Web. 13 Jan. 2012.

King is a library evangelist who writes mostly on issues of technology, librarianship and its future. His site is excellent for keeping up with trends in librarianship and ensuring readers are thinking about the implications of those trends for the future of their organizations. It is timely and well-informed, often talking directly on issues of policy that library managers should keep abreast of.

Disher, W. Crash course in public library administration. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited, 2010. Print.

Disher’s book tends toward providing definitions and overviews using simplistic library examples. It does note the importance of dealing with municipal governments, along with basic organizational culture principles such as the use of power. The largest section of the book is on budgeting, and the importance of quantifying things with statistics. All of this would be useful, though the local political spheres might differ by jurisdiction.

“In the Library with the Lead Pipe.” Web. 13 Jan. 2012.

This blog has eight authors who keep abreast of issues in librarianship, especially concerning the future of the discipline. They do interviews with different information professionals, express opinions and often serve as a good repository of what other librarians are thinking about librarianship.

Klososky, S. Manager’s Guide to Social Media. Toronto: McGraw-Hill, 2010. Print.

While Klososky’s book isn’t specifically written for libraries it is important for information organizations because of how we help our users deal with social media. There are many ideas for policies and how to get staff into using the tools of promotion and making them a seamless part of the organization. Each chapter ends with a handy checklist of the points covered, making this a very useful quick read for someone new to dealing with these technologies.

“ResourceShelf – Where dedicated researchers share their resources.” Web. 13 Jan. 2012.

ResourceShelf is a practical and frequently-updated website full of library resources. The resources are often technology-focused, which can be useful for information professionals looking for tools to perform specific tasks. It also covers news that can influence policy decisions at libraries, such as what is happening there are changes to Google searching. There are a number of contributors and subscribing to this RSS feed can take the place of many other library tools blogs.

Sheldon, B E. Interpersonal Skills, Theory and Practice: The Librarian’s Guide to Becoming a Leader. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited, 2010. Print.

A well-footnoted book about interpersonal techniques in the library workplace. This is about leadership and fostering it within oneself. There are theories and background, but the book is first a practical workbook, with exercises checklists and detailed scenarios. Combined with a good understanding of the organizational culture, this book would be very useful for a new manager.

Steele, V, and S D Elder. Becoming a fundraiser: the principles and practice of library development. Chicago: American Library Association, 1992. Print.

This book starts with the ideas of fitting your personality as a library manager to the task of raising funds. There is a constant hearkening back to the idea of the purpose of your library and what kinds of funds there are to raise. While its focus on larger gifts may seem a little impractical (as is its omission of the last twenty years of technological updates) the basic notions of gathering funds are still solid.

Tucker, D C, and S Mosley. Crash course in library supervision: meeting the key players. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2007. Print.

This book is a primer on managing personnel, including how to talk with subordinates, when to introduce yourself and dealing with clients. Most of the information about laws is from an American context but this is still a good introduction to the people who make a difference to a library.

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