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Book reviews: examining the unpredictable nature of communications


Book reviews: examining the unpredictable nature of communications

Radford, M. L. & Radford, G. P. Library Conversations: reclaiming interpersonal communications theory for understanding professional encounters. Chicago: ALA, 2017. 184 pp. ISBN: 978 0 8389 1484 7. $75.

THIS book aims to explore theories of communication science and place them in the context of face-to-face and virtual communication in libraries. The first part of the book focuses on description and analysis of theoretical frameworks for understanding communication. I found the scrutiny of Aristotle’s theory the most engaging. Formulated 2,300 years ago it suggests a distinction between practical wisdom gained from life experiences and scholarly knowledge gained from formal education. Practical wisdom which is useful in communication as it allows us to tailor our conversations.
The second half deals with applying communication theories to reference conversations in libraries. It delves into the unpredictable nature of communications when a librarian mediates between the knowledge available in the library, systems that exist to access this knowledge and the enquirer’s information need. Examples include formal presentations, giving feedback, staff evaluation, speaking up during team meetings, dealing with impatient users, resolving conflict between colleagues, building relationships and networking. Although examples are library-based, the analysis of human interactions is applicable to any profession and context. This is not a self-help book – the authors consider self-help books on communication to be ineffective as the tips and tactics approach misses the complexity of interpersonal communication. Instead, this book encourages the reader to reflect on communication theories in order to develop a deeper understanding of communication process and to obtain a new viewpoint on their own communication techniques.

Margaret I. Katny London


Contributor: Margaret I. Katny London
Published:  11 September 2018


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