With firsthand knowledge regarding the benefits of Access Services departments in college and university libraries, a USciences professor has joined hands with a higher education peer to co-author Twenty-First-Century Access Services: On the Front Line of Academic Leadership. Michael J. Krasulski, assistant professor of information sciences and coordinator of access services at the J.W. England Library, co-edited the new book published on July 23, by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), with Trevor A. Dawes, associate university librarian at Washington University in St. Louis and ACRL president. With the help of peers, they discuss Access Services’ importance to the success of academic libraries and the institutions themselves.
Almost any time a student uses the J. W. England Library, he or she will come into contact with someone from the Access Services Department. The department ensures that a library runs smoothly and is well organized. Access Services’ responsibilities include opening and closing the library, staffing the library, operating the circulation desk, overseeing the interlibrary loan department, reserving materials, collecting books, preventing theft, and restocking the library shelves. Access Services also spots and reports facilities issues since practitioners are in the building all day. According to Krasulski, a library cannot function without its Access Services department.
The inspiration for this book was to raise the respect level for Access Services in an era where attention is given to other technology focused areas.
“In our introduction, we talk about a book, Circulation Work in College and University Libraries, which was published in 1933,” Krasulski said. “Essentially, this book is only the second time between 1933 and now that this topic has been addressed this way.”
Currently, the library and information sciences community’s attention is largely focused on technological trends such as copyrights, open access, digital references, and mobile library applications.
“Technological issues are what people consider ‘fun’ or ‘new.’ Trevor and I will be the first to tell you technology is vital to the success of the academic library, however there are other less ‘sexy’ issues that still need to be addressed,” says Krasulski.
Each chapter is written by a different librarian, and discusses one aspect of Access Services’ work and its importance. The contributors come from a variety of different institutions with different libraries sizes ranging from large Ivy League university libraries to small liberal arts college libraries. Krasulski and Dawes carefully selected potential contributors they knew based on their professional reputations. Most importantly, each contributor is equally passionate about the role of access services in the success of the academic library. Krasulski said that advocacy for Access Services professionals is a constant undercurrent throughout the book, and each contributor is actively working to improve the status of Access Services within the academic librarianship profession.
The book targets specific audiences within the library and information sciences community, and Krasulski does not expect the book to be read by many outside of it. Among the people who he hopes will read the book, includes library directors or library deans who want to learn more about their Access Services Department and to see how the department’s work is changing. Krasulski also hopes Access Services practitioners who want to hear a different perspective will enjoy the book as well as library students who are looking to enter the profession.
“I hope this book will help other information professionals better appreciate what Access Services does and help practitioners gain access to higher level jobs. When you see who become library deans or library directors, access services practitioners are not often found in these positions. There is a perception that access services is not taken seriously,” says Krasulski. “I hope this book can educate others about how important Access Services workers are to the success of the academic library.”
Anyone interested in reading the book can purchase it from the American Library Association Publishing website or from Amazon.com.