Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Book Review: A Good Match

One of the books on my sidebar for the past few months is A Good Match: Library Career Opportunities for Graduates of Liberal Arts Colleges. It was published by ALA as part of its "ALA Research Series" and was written by my first boss as a professional Rebecca Watson-Boone.

It is a serious research work.

Rebecca surveyed librarians whose undergraduate degrees were from eight smaller (my judgment) liberal arts colleges -- mostly in the Midwest. They are:
  1. Carleton
  2. Denison
  3. Earlham
  4. Grinnell
  5. Kalamazoo
  6. Lawrence
  7. Macalester
  8. Swathmore
There were 864 people who answered the survey which was 11 pages (in the book) and had a total of 82 questions, some of which were open-ended and others had multiple sub-questions. It includes a rather complete survey of the literature on career choices and paths.

She also compares between institutions and across the generations. There were some generational differences, as well as differences between the graduates of specific institutions.

It is *not* light reading. However, I think that the experiences of the alums of these selected colleges can be generalized to the profession. [I certainly can identify with many of the answers presented.]

It is an interesting work, well worth the investment of the time to read it.

In the interest of full disclosure, I worked for Rebecca at the University of Arizona in the mid-1970s. It was a temporary position as the Business Reference Librarian in the brand new Central Reference Department of the University of Arizona Main Library. Rebecca and I have stayed in touch over the years, primarily through ALA. She is now an independent scholar living in New Mexico (of which I am personally jealous).


  1. Thanks, Michael. As a Grinnell graduate (and my wife attended Kalamazoo & my oldest is a sophomore at Lawrence), I'll be curious to take a look. I had a brief moment of panic that I had received the survey and not responded--my gray matter gets smoother each year and things slip off. With an 11 page survey with open ended questions, I can't help but wonder how scientific the results can be (I fear the rate of survey fatigue is ever-increasing). We'll see what happens with my son's career path. When I asked him why he didn't resume his campus job at the library, he claimed that the experience gave new meaning to the term "mind numbing." Kids these days....My younger son is having the same reaction working at the local public library. Maybe a few years in the job market will change their point of view. I know five years in book publishing production sent me scurrying to library school.

    --John DeBacher
    Midwesterner small college guy, recovering librarian

  2. In my country(Albania) word"Library"is dying