Presenting Information. By Clare Nankivell and Michael Schoolbred. London: Library Association, 1995. 69 p., ISBN 1–85604–138–7.
Presenting Information is included in a series of library training guides. The guides are concisely written summaries which reflect the best principles and practices in the various areas of library training. So far, 11 guides have become available, each devoted to a specific area of librarianship . While each guide can stand alone in its own right, taken together they form, as the introduction states, “a comprehensive manual of staff training and development in library and information work.”
The guide under review describes and evaluates two ways of creating and conveying information: writing and oral presentation. These two ways are treated together because in the authors’ view, which I share, they have much in common. The eight chapters of the guide are evenly divided, four dealing with writing skills and four with oral presentation.
The authors note in succinct form, yet in some detail, the elements to be considered both in writing and in oral presentation. Among them the following stand out: planning the goals, devising the document, awareness of the user’s needs — e.g., his/her manner of reading, which is usually in chunks rather than by individual words. The authors give advice as to the selection and format of the document. They stress the need for consistency in the use of symbols. They urge that particular attention be paid to design and to the use of white space — a basic ingredient in shaping the layout. Language, the authors remind us, is most effective if it is simple, active, and explicit.
In presenting information orally the speaker is advised to consider the makeup of the audience, its language ability, and its size. Above all, the presenter must master the subject. The authors make excellent recommendations as to the structure of the presentation. They suggest devices which may help the presenter gain confidence; and they remind the presenter that practice is the road to perfection. Body language, gestures, and the volume of the voice are significant items in shaping the oral presentation.
The authors stress that on the day of presentation practical matters, such as checking the room and providing teaching materials, be attended to. Included in the process of presentation is feedback. Preferably presenters should be able to draw on colleagues or friends, but if such assistance is not available they will have to rely on their own evaluation.
The volume has a select bibliography and three appendices.
Appendix 1 consists of two checklists; one is intended to highlight aspects of design and presentation, the other offers suggestions for planning oral presentations.
Appendix 2 gives 15 outstanding examples of presentations in writing, mainly from British institutions.
Appendix 3 lists several British organizations which offer courses in presentation skills.
The guide is addressed primarily to library managers and trainees, and is likely to be welcomed by them as a very helpful training device. While librarians of all levels of attainment might profit from consulting the guide, it should prove most useful to individuals with limited experience. They might turn to this clearly written volume not only in formal learning situations, but also when they seek independently answers to aspects of presenting information. The guide might further be helpful to individuals from other fields. Non–librarians could easily substitute cases from their own area and the general advice and instructions of the guide could then also be applied to other disciplines.
1. One was reviewed in TWL 5-1 (Fall 1994): 53–54 [ed.]; see http://www.worlib.org/vol05no1/index.shtml.
About the Author
Fritz Veit is Director Emeritus, Chicago State University Libraries, and a member of the Editorial Board of Third World Libraries as well as a regular reviewer for the journal.
© 1995 Fritz Veit.
Veit, Fritz, “Review of Presenting Information, by Clare Nankivell and Michael Schoolbred,” Third World Libraries, Volume 6, Number 1 (Fall 1995).