Career Planning, Supporting Diverse Student Populations, Reference FAQs | Pro Media Reviews

All library staff should read this reminder of the ever-increasing diversity of students seeking support in libraries; an efficient and well-organized resource for  novice staff looking to gain confidence in a reference setting

Dawson, Heather. A-Z Common Reference Questions for Academic Librarians. Facet. 2019. 240p. ISBN 9781783304110. pap. $79.99. PRO MEDIA
For frontline reference staff, breadth of basic knowledge is the key to confidence and, as often follows, to successful patron interactions. Dawson (academic support librarian, London Sch. of Economics Lib.) embraces this theory fully with her heavily UK-focused “survival guide” covering common reference queries, organized into 100-plus alphabetized chapter entries. Each entry begins with a snapshot of typical questions, followed by common starting points and recommended sources—the last of which is divided into useful subcategories, such as key organizations, libraries and archives, study guides, news services, major databases, and journal articles. Entries include not only major academic subjects (environment, history) but also formats and interdisciplinary issues familiar to anyone experienced with reference (copyright, higher education, research methods). Dawson’s brevity when it comes to describing resources makes scanning chapters a snap—yet this limit, along with its default UK perspective, makes its practical use as a reference source in the United States questionable. VERDICT An efficient and well-organized resource for UK reference desks and novice staff looking to gain confidence in that setting.—Robin Chin Roemer, Univ. of Washington Lib., Seattle

Supporting Today’s Students in the Library: Strategies for Retaining and Graduating International, Transfer, First-Generation, and Re-Entry Students. ACRL. 2019. 284p. ed. by Ngoc-Yen Tran & Silke Higgins. ISBN 9780838946626. pap. $68. PRO MEDIA
The latest ACRL offering on how to reach nontraditional students is reminiscent of others that have come before it, particularly when it comes to services for international and English-language learners, but it stands out in discussions of first-generation and reentry students. Editors Tran and Higgins (both librarians, San José Univ.) compile a variety of case and research studies, theoretical models, and program descriptions from contributors at academic libraries large and small across North America. Chapters about new and innovative methods for encouraging library use by reentry students, such as “family zones” for young children of students and research-writing practicums for students needing heightened support in the area of scholarly writing, are food for thought. In addition to descriptions of large initiatives, there are practical points about the language in policy and signage relating to children in the library, which is relevant to single-parent students bringing children to the library. VERDICT All library staff should read this reminder of the ever-increasing diversity of students seeking support in libraries and consider suggested improvements to the inclusivity of systems, supports, and spaces for nontraditional students.—Grace Romund, Univ. of Manitoba, Winnipeg 

redstarWhitlatch, Jo Bell & Beth S. Woodard. Competency-Based Career Planning for Reference and User Services Professionals. ALA. 2019. 216p. ISBN 9780838917800. pap. $57.99. PRO MEDIA
Staying up-to-date with current standards is important for library professionals. To that end, Whitlatch (The Role of the Academic Reference Librarian) and Woodard (Sch. of Information Sciences, Univ. of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) introduce the “Professional Competencies for Reference and User Services Librarians,” which were developed by the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA). The competencies are divided into seven main categories: access, sources, collaboration, information literacy, marketing and advocacy, assessment, and planning for the future. Each chapter includes “recommended self-assessment activities, fact-finding, practical exercises, short verbal and written reports and typical behavioral strategies.” Comprehensive and thorough, the work is full of information and invaluable strategies. In addition to an extensive bibliography, each chapter contains additional resources. VERDICT This superb work is essential reading for reference and user-service librarians looking to improve their professional capabilities.—Susan E. Ketcham, Long Island Univ. Post Lib., Brookville, NY

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