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Case study approach for LIS education - a book review

Case study approach for LIS education - a book review

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Published by M S Sridhar

SRELS Journal of Information Management, February 2013, v.50, n.1, p 131-132

SRELS Journal of Information Management, February 2013, v.50, n.1, p 131-132

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Published by: M S Sridhar on Feb 14, 2013
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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12/26/2013

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Case study approach for LIS education 
 –
a book review 
 
M S Sridhar 
 
N G Sathish and Anil Takalkar.
Case studies for teaching library management 
.
Edited by L JHaravu. Secundarabad: Kesavan Institute of Information and Knowledge Management, 2012, xv+ 159p, Paperback, Rs.290/-.Teaching and practice, unfortunately, are two different streams in Indian librarianship and theymeet quite rarely. With an exception of a few, most teachers of LIS have no option thanborrowing case studies from others
experiences for presenting to their students, if at all theywish to do so. Well articulated true-to-life case studies are not easily and readily available. Hereis a book which very effectively fills this gap and probably the first of its kind to provide a number of well thought out case studies of library management. The book has 39 case studies, a brief 
introduction to library management, ‘case analysis’ for the first two cases and ‘suggesteddiscussion leads’ for the remaining cases.
 
Changing from ‘teaching’ to ‘learning’ is
an important shift in education and case study methodhas a role to play in this process. For a long time, the structure of management education itself gave prime importance to case studies. Almost every LIS course has also
library management
 as a subject and management theory is taught regularly as propounded in management textbooks minus cases from the experiences of practitioners. Even n
ascent topics like ‘strategicmanagement’, ‘change management’, ‘disaster management’
are routinely
taught in master’s
courses and even explored for doctoral works without practical cases to record and discuss.This book provides sufficient scope to library education for adopting, though belated, casestudies approach and fuel for gaining momentum and mileage. Case studies method of learningis going to be revolutionary for library education. It calls for whole hearted commitment and a lotof efforts on the part of faculty to make it happen.Each case study is well presented like a mini story in an interactive mode and in a typical journalistic style in the book. I am sure practitioners would love these case studies as each onelooks as if it is their own. Having retired four years ago, as I read through the case studies, mymemory is stirred and made me involuntarily and vividly recall number of similar incidents in myown career. I consider this as a testimony for the effectiveness of case studies presented in thebook. There are case studies on many important and practical issues of libraries. I wonder thiscompendium of case studies may also serve, in a limited way, as a brief history of managementof Indian libraries during two crucial decades of 1980s and 1990s when they were on the verge
 
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of automation and entering digital era. I congratulate the authors and the editor of the book for this path-breaking attempt to imbibe case studies in library education. Now, it is up to the facultyof library schools to take this forward and make the case study approach a reality in LISeducation. It is highly desirable that the book is also reviewed from the perspective of teachershighlighting problems/ obstacles, if any, in implementing the case study approach.The right, wrong or hypothetical nature of case studies is immaterial. More importantly, whatmakes case studies complete is their ability to involve participants after presentation (i.e.,invoking wide participation with intensive discussion/ debate). I am confident that the casestudies in this book have that quality to evoke absorbing discussions in group meetings both inlibrary schools and in professional meetings of practitioners (incidentally, the case studyapproach of management teaching should not be mistaken or equated with case study as amethod in research methodology). Each case study in the book has well thought out, practicaland sufficiently intricate plot. Resolving such cases is certainly a good practical exercise thatevery student must undergo. It is not just the theoretical knowledge of management technique/tool but the rich experience and the insight into librarianship that is more important in case studymethod. An exposure to management theories and some understanding of the practical working of libraries are the two important pre-requisites for adopting case study approach to learning. Thebook, fortunately, has a brief introduction to library management and as claimed by the authorsit is intended to facilitate the use of the case method as a means of addressing typical problemsituations presented.
This is an excellent, but highly brief exposition on ‘library management’ as
a preamble to case studies and obviously stands separate from the case studies. Though ittouches upon most of management concepts and techniques, a little more elaborate adjunctlibrary management manual either embedded with or cross referenced to case studies isdesired. While doing so, if embedding is not feasible, at least grouping case studies by themanagement facets or skills involved will make the book more like a work book for class roomsas it is not supposed to be read from the beginning to end. Alternatively, an index of casestudies using broad management issues like leadership styles, HR strategy, organizationculture, job description/ enrichment, motivation/ de-motivation, communication (or lack of it),responsibility/ power struggle, and win-win situation is more convenient to students.It is high time that practical sessions in LIS education include more and more case studies. Wecan expect more case studies in the future revision of the book and also additional books oncase studies embedded in library management, if LIS schools show adequate interest. No

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