01 January 2009


Landau, Herbert B., The Small Public Library Survival Guide: Thriving on Less, Chicago: ALA Editions, 2008, ISBN 978-0-8389-3575-0, US$38.00 (members: US$34.20).

Landau, Director of the Milanof-Schock Library in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, has written a small but useful book. There is not a whole lot new in this guide, but it brings together many ideas that he has used to keep his small library alive—and to help it to expand its offerings and services.

I especially like the first and last chapters. Why This Book is Necessary and Conclusion: Is It Worth All the Effort explore the role the public library can and should serve in small-town America in the twenty-first century. He rightly concludes that yes, it is worth the effort to afford the opportunity to access information by all—including the poor, the young, the rural, and the elderly—who may have no other option.

Except for those chapters, the book follows the usual management book arrangement with chapters on creating a strategic plan, funding the plan (with ideas specifically for the small library), marketing, programming, staffing, and purchasing. He provides some ideas not found in most such books, such as bake sales, taking passport applications (increasing both funding and traffic), and face-to-face marketing and soliciting of funds. There is a bibliography and index and eight appendixes: institutional sources of information, sample survey questions, sample direct mail solicitation letter, how to evaluate old and rare books, sample memorial gift form, sample research grant agreement, press release guidelines, and sample Friends of the Library bylaws.

If you run a small public library, you have already found out that the lofty ideas in most management or marketing books exceed your time and financial constraints. Your problem is solved by this book—it was written just for you!

(The fact that Landau recommends both my blog and one of my books had no effect on this review, although it does indicate that he is a man of good taste.)

URL: to order the book:

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