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The Accidental Librarian: New Book Is a Comprehensive Guide for Anyone Who Has “Fallen Into” Library Work; Many Library School Grads May Welcome It, Too.

October 16, 2008, Medford, NJ—Information Today, Inc. (ITI) has announced the publication of The Accidental Librarian, by Pamela H. MacKellar.

According to a recent report from the National Center for Education Statistics, more than 30 percent of librarians working in U.S. public libraries do not have a master’s degree from an American Library Association (ALA) accredited program of library and information studies. Among them are thousands of so-called accidental librarians who either felt the call of librarianship early in their working lives or turned to it as a second career.

In The Accidental Librarian, author Pamela H. MacKellar—a 25-year library veteran who has mentored accidental librarians in all types of settings—covers library principles, practices, and tools of the trade for individuals who work as librarians without benefit of a formal education. MacKellar points out, “Often, communities that cannot afford to hire a librarian with a master’s degree are delighted to hire someone with a high school diploma or undergraduate degree to fill a librarian position. A church, organization, or school may be happy just to have a library and someone to run it at all. We are fortunate to have people who step up to the plate when the job of librarian needs to be filled.”

MacKellar, a strong proponent of accidental librarianship, believes no librarian, whether degreed or not, can serve effectively without continuing professional development. “Many librarians understand that there is always something to learn about librarianship,” she says, “especially at this time of immense change when technology is having such an impact on libraries and the profession overall.”

In addition to offering advice on basic library principles and practices, technology, and career development, MacKellar includes tips and examples along with simple exercises designed to test a librarian’s knowledge and increase his or her understanding. Throughout the book, she emphasizes the roles librarians play in their communities and the value of libraries in the lives of the people they serve. Other features include a foreword by Karen Strege, Director of ALA’s Library Support Staff Certificate Program; sample library policies; a list of educational resources; a round-up of current library issues including legislative matters; and recommended print and Internet resources. Readers can stay connected and learn more about librarianship at the author’s website,

“As an accidental librarian who stumbled into the profession almost completely by chance, it’s good to know that others debating this career choice can use this book as a realistic roadmap,” said Don Borchert, author of Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks and Gangstas in the Public Library. “Every job of the librarian, every duty, every responsibility is considered here … If you’re just starting out in library work, you’ll find a lot of useful information, and if you’re an accredited professional with tenure, you’ll come away with a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses.”

According to independent library consultant and author Stephanie Gerding, “The Accidental Librarian is a comprehensive and truly necessary resource … This book should be on every library staff’s personal reference shelf, especially those new to library work and directors without formal training.” Dr. Susan Pinkerton, Associate Professor of Library Science at New Mexico State University said, “Impressive! A wealth of information is contained in this overview of the profession.”

Pamela H. MacKellar has been a librarian for more than 25 years. She has held positions as a newspaper librarian, library services director, assistant librarian, health services librarian, cataloger, technology consultant, and independent consultant in libraries of all kinds, including special libraries, school, public, post-secondary, tribal, prison and state library agency. She is the co-author of Grants for Libraries: A How-To-Do-It Manual (Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2006) and the article “Wishing Won’t Work: 10 Things You Need to Know and Do When Applying for Technology Grants” (Computers in Libraries, July–August 2006). She has presented at the Computers in Libraries Conference, Internet Librarian Conference, and the New Mexico Library Association Annual Conference.

The Accidental Librarian (432 pp/softbound/$29.50/ISBN 978-1-57387-338-3) is published by Information Today, Inc. It is available in bookstores and direct from the publisher by calling (800) 300-9868 [outside the U.S., call (609) 654-6266]; faxing (609) 654-4309; emailing [email protected]; or visiting the ITI website at

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