“I hope that this book will provide information on all aspects of public libraries from the laws that establish them to publicity for programs. There is a great deal of behind the scenes work in public libraries that most people do not see, so I hope this book fills in some of that gap,” said Professor Emerita of Library and Information Science Kay Ann Cassell, explaining the goals of her third book, “Public Libraries and Their Communities: An Introduction,” published in April, 2021 by Rowman and Littlefield.
Cassell said the primary audiences for the textbook are library school students and others who work in public libraries, and, she added, “I want this book to show the present and future of public libraries. The title indicates the importance of the community for public libraries. What was once a collection of books for the public to borrow is now an institution that provides a wide variety of resources from print books to digital resources and programs for all ages and an institution that reaches out to its community to meet their needs and interests.”
"I began teaching a public libraries course at Rutgers a few years ago,” Cassell said. “The students often already worked in public libraries, so I learned a great deal from them and was inspired by them."
The book explores in depth the concepts pertaining to library organization, policy development, staffing, fiscal organization including funding sources and budgets, the legal framework, relationships with local and state governments, advocacy, services and service development for different age groups and for different groups of users, development of programming and outreach, collection development, promotion and marketing, and current issues and trends.
Cassell also includes many examples from both large and small public libraries to bring the principles she writes about to life, including actual library policies, case studies, strategic planning, organization charts, and library budgets.
Cassell said her years as a faculty member at SC&I were particularly influential in helping her understand the need for the findings and recommendations she presents in the book. “I began teaching a public libraries course at Rutgers a few years ago,” Cassell said. “The students often already worked in public libraries, so I learned a great deal from them and was inspired by them.”
"There is a great deal of behind the scenes work in public libraries that most people do not see, so I hope this book fills in some of that gap."
She also found additional inspiration, she said, while conducting research for the book that involved traveling to libraries and “talking to directors of public libraries and finding out how they saw the future. I finished this book during the pandemic and have been so impressed with all the good work public libraries have done to provide resources and services to their community often virtually.”
Professor Bill Crowley, Ph.D., of the School of Information Studies at Dominican University, wrote about the book in his review, “Professional first-aid for new and experienced public librarians seeking to provide quality service in a sometimes-splintered America. A most useful text for a course in public librarianship.”
Before Cassell began her successful career as an academic, teaching a variety of courses covering reference and information services, collection development, and public libraries at SC&I, she gained years of experience working in public and academic libraries.
Cassell has served as the director of three libraries: the Bethlehem (NY) Public Library, the Huntington (NY) Public Library, and the New School for Social Research library. She has also served as the associate director for collections and services at the New York Public Library, where she oversaw the development of reference services, collections, programs and services for all branches.
In addition, her experience includes working as a coordinator for public library services at the New Jersey State Library and the Westchester Library System. Cassell is also the coauthor of “Reference and Information Services, an Introduction” and the author of “Managing Reference Today.”
Cassell earned a Ph.D. in library science from the International University for Graduate Studies, an MLIS from SC&I, and a master’s degree in comparative literature from Brooklyn College. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University.