Building Your Professional Library

As I approach the end of my MLS program, I find myself already starting to miss the library science academic environment and (as hard as it is to believe) the readings that go along with it. While I am lucky to have a full-time job already, it is outside of the information science arena and, once I graduate in December, I don’t know when (if ever) library science will be such a big part of my life.

Like many of you, as I am wrapping up my MLS, I am engaged in a required Capstone course for my degree. While the main intent of this course is to summarize my learning over the past two years and produce something that showcases my best academic work, it is also causing me to deeply consider what my role in society as an information science degree holder can (and should) be. In many ways, this has been spurred by the American Library Association’s core value of education and lifelong learning, which calls on ALA members “to ensure that school, public, academic, and special libraries in every community cooperate to provide lifelong learning services to all”. While this core value focuses on the macro-level, it also speaks to me on a micro, personal level. I want to ensure that, even once I have turned my tassel and framed my diploma, that I am part of an active learning community focused on library and information science.

This is where having a personal, professional library can come in handy. Perhaps, like me, you’ve already started one without knowing it, by collecting the books required for your library school courses. Perhaps you’ve heard a professor mention an awesome library-related book they’ve read recently and you just had to have it. In any case, most of us likely have the foundations for our very own professional library. Like Emily (who inspired this post), I believe that books about librarians and librarianship can (and should) be utilized for years to come.

Below are four books (some I’ve read, some I’ve skimmed, and some that are on my TBR pile) that could either be a good start to your personal, professional LIS library or ways to build upon an existing collection. As you will see, I think books that center historically marginalized voices should be key for LIS professionals. (Descriptions are courtesy of WorldCat).

Asian American Librarians and Library Services: Activism, Collaborations, and Strategies

Janet Hyunju Clarke, Raymond Pun, & Monnee Tong

“”What are the library services and resources that Asian Pacific Americans need? What does it mean to be an Asian Pacific American librarian in the 21st century? In [this book], library professionals and scholars share reflections, best practices, and strategies, and convey the critical need for diversity in the LIS field, library programming, and resources to better reflect the rich and varied experiences and information needs of Asian Americans in the US and beyond.””

Pushing the Margins: Women of Color and Intersectionality in LIS

Rose L. Chou & Annie Pho

“Explores the experiences of women of color in library and information science (LIS), using intersectionality as a framework.”

Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism

Safiya Umoja Noble

“In Algorithms of Oppression, Safiya Umoja Noble challenges the idea that search engines like Google offer an equal playing field for all forms of ideas, identities, and activities. Data discrimination is a real social problem; Noble argues that the combination of private interests in promoting certain sites, along with the monopoly status of a relatively small number of Internet search engines, leads to a biased set of search algorithms that privilege whiteness and discriminate against people of color, specifically women of color.”

Cruising the Library: Perversities in the Organization of Knowledge

Melissa Adler

Cruising the Library offers a highly innovative analysis of the history of sexuality and categories of sexual perversion through a critical examination of the Library of Congress and its cataloging practices….Adler embarks upon a detailed critique of how cataloging systems have delimited and proscribed expressions of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and race in a manner that mirrors psychiatric and sociological attempts to pathologize non-normative sexual practices and civil subjects.”

Please share in the comments what other books and resources you might put in your own professional library!


Photo by Jonathan Borba from Pexels

Nick Dean is a second-year master’s student in the School of Library and Information Management (SLIM) at Emporia State University. Nick currently works full-time as an academic advisor at a medical school and as a part-time employee at a medical library, both in the Kansas City metro.

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