Webology, Volume 4, Number 3, September, 2007

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Book Review

Information Literacy Cookbook: Ingredients, Recipes and Tips for Success. Jane Secker, Debbi Boden and Gwyneth Price (Eds.). Published by Chandos Publishing, Chandos House, 5 & 6 Steadys Lane, Stanton Harcourt, Oxford, OX29 5RL, UK. 2007, XIV, 162 p., Paperback, ISBN 1-84334-225-1 £39.95; Hardback ISBN 1-84334-226-X £57.00.

A search in the Library of Congress’s catalogue for English books with ‘information literacy’ in the title published between 2000 and 2007 results in more than 90 records. Information literacy has attracted a remarkable amount of attention during the last decade and much has been published by different groups including academics, librarians and information professionals and for various audience groups such as students, academics, information professionals and so on. So is there a need for a new book in this area?

The difference between the book ‘Information Literacy Cookbook’ edited by Secker, Boden and Price and much of the existing work is that, as the editors stated, it is ‘written by practitioners for practitioners’. All of the editors and authors of this collective work are information professionals and librarians who have the experience of working in different sectors of the library world. Their aim is to ‘create something that would be of day-to-day use by practitioners’. Each of the chapters deals with a different information environment from school libraries to further education institutions. Therefore, each chapter could be read on its own meaning that this kind of book is not one that has to be read from cover to cover.

The Information Literacy Cookbook’ does not try to introduce information literacy or to teach end-users how to improve their information literacy skills. The audience is information professionals and practitioners and therefore the readers are expected to have sufficient background knowledge on information literacy (although the editors do provide some background information in the introductory chapter and point the readers to resources for further information).

The book consists of nine chapters. The first chapter, written by the editors, is about the book and its structure. The second chapter by O’Beirne is about digital citizenship and the role of public libraries. The author gives some background information on the rise of the public libraries and then explains three types of activities that public libraries should fulfil in order to support their clients including supporting reference and enquiry work, supporting learners and supporting digital citizenship.

The third chapter by Millen and Roberts is on digital literacy in NHS (the UK’s National Health Service). The authors focus on the IT skills in the context of health services, with reference to NHS. Chapter four by Donnelly and Craddock discusses information literacy in the commercial world that includes a variety of sectors such as business, legal, manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies. The chapter highlights the importance of information literacy in these sectors and after briefly discussing the current practices it explains information literacy training programmes and strategies that librarians and information professionals could adopt.

Chapter five by Hinton is about information literacy skills of information professionals who work on their own; those who alone are responsible for providing information services to a team or organisation. The chapter includes tips and guidance for them on dealing with enquiries from their clients and providing better services. The audience of chapter six by Jones is school libraries. The chapter consists of some general principles and useful tips to show how the librarian can influence policy and practice within his or her school, helping them learn how to advocate information literary skills within their own organisations. The seventh chapter ‘information literacy challenges in the further education sector’ is written by Price and Del-Pizzo. It is an attempt to explain strategies and measures for advocating and implementing information literacy skills among the more diverse clients found within further education environments. Chapter 8, which is the longest chapter of the book and is written by editors, also focuses on the information literacy in higher education. As the authors argue information literacy is more developed in higher education compared to the other sectors. They discuss relevant issues such as learning styles and liaison with academic departments as well as measures that academic librarians need to know and take in order to implement and improve information literacy within their institutions.

The final chapter of the book is a short chapter of conclusions in which the editors pick up some of the ideas and issues discussed in the book and briefly present an overview of practical issues in information literacy. Each chapter of the book has a bibliography in the end that could lead readers to other useful resources, and some chapters (such as chapter 8) have useful examples and appendices.

Overall, the book relatively achieves what it sets out to do. It provides tips and hints for practitioners active in different sectors of the library world to advocate, implement and improve information literacy skills within their institutions. Although the book does not cover all the possible sectors, the information presented in the book could also be useful for the information professionals whose working environments have not been discussed in the book. The book is titled ‘cookbook’ for two reasons: First is the structure and nature of the book that tries to be a source of inspiration, guidance and ideas as well as being a practical manual. The other reason is that the editors have used cooking vocabulary in order to make the book a more joyful and fun read. Although use of cooking vocabulary has helped achieving this goal and has made the book somewhat fun, at times too much use of cooking vocabulary becomes slightly distractive. In brief, the book is a good source of practical tips and hints that can assist information professionals engaged with information literacy in their planning and in their fulfilment of their plans.

Hamid R. Jamali
E-mail: h.jamali (at) gmail.com
School of Library, Archive and Information Studies
University College London

Bibliographic information of this book review for citing:

Jamali, H. R. (2007). "Review of: Secker, J., Boden, D., & Price, G. (Eds.). The Information Literacy Cookbook: Ingredients, recipes and tips for success." Chandos Publishing: Oxford, 2007. Webology, 4 (3), Book Review 7. Available at: http://www.webology.org/2007/v4n3/bookreview7.html

Copyright © 2007, Hamid R. Jamali.