Coming Soon!
The Evolution of Librarianship
From Gatekeeper to Change Agent
by Susan R. Rathbun-Grubb
July 2024, 160pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-8122-0
$120, £93, 105€, A165
Available for purchase 30 days prior to publication.
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-8123-7
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Helps readers understand the evolution of librarianship that led to the current trend of eschewing neutrality in favor of social activism and community change.

Exploring influential library literature in a historical context, this book examines the changing roles librarians have filled and will fill in the evolving library landscape.

To thrive in their positions, new and veteran librarians must continually develop new competencies and refine their traditional skills, and they must be ready to evaluate new roles and priorities as libraries evolve. The Evolution of Librarianship uses a historical lens to explore the wide range of roles librarians have taken on to maintain libraries’ vibrancy and relevance over time.

Susan Rathbun-Grubb encourages readers to think about several broad questions: What is the purpose of librarianship, past and present? Why do we prize certain skill sets above others when hiring and promoting effective librarians? What are the essential skills that define the profession? Thought leaders and pioneers in the field have pondered these questions for centuries; what can they tell us that will inspire and guide us to meet today’s needs? Rathbun-Grubb’s expertise in librarian competencies and skill in explaining complex topics in accessible terms equips readers with a clearer understanding of the philosophies of librarianship that have led to both continuity and innovation in the evolution of the field.


  • Provides an overview of the changing (and durable) roles of librarians throughout history
  • Demystifies the language of philosophical library literature to point out how different epistemologies lead to the creation and acceptance of professional roles, competencies, and services
  • Encourages readers to question which roles of librarianship are essential and why
  • Encourages readers to explore how these essential roles are (or could be) actualized
Susan Rathbun-Grubb, PhD, is associate professor at the University of South Carolina School of Information Science. She has worked in academic, public, and school libraries, as well as the health information technology industry. Her published research centers on the intersection of education, training, and careers in library and information science. She is particularly interested in career satisfaction, pedagogy, and LIS competencies. Rathbun-Grubb teaches in the areas of information organization and reference services and was the recipient of the 2022 University of South Carolina iSchool Excellence in Teaching Award.
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