vol. 25 no. 2, June, 2020

Book Reviews

Jaeger, Paul T. and Greene Taylor, Natalie. Foundations of information policy. London: Facet Publishing, 2019. xviii, 212 p. ISBN 978-1-78330-451-6. £54.95.

Both authors of this book on information policy are experienced lecturers in library and information science departments of respected American universities (the University or Maryland and the University of South Carolina) and experts in information policy. They know their job and have acquired knowledge in all areas of information policy related to different situations and contexts of information professionals. They are sharing this knowledge through this book, which is mainly oriented towards information professionals in the USA.

There are several good reasons to focus on the USA: deep understanding of information policy can only be achieved on the basis of legislation and regulation within one country or at least a number of countries applying the same principles in all kinds of policy applications. Each country has its traditions, but also specific bodies working in different spheres and with different mandates. The implementation of existing policies is also country specific and what is necessary in one country may be impossible in another. Besides, the audience of the information professionals in the USA is large and the market for this book will be sufficient to justify its publishing.

For these two reasons I will not recommend Foundations of information policy as a textbook for the students or a handbook for information professionals in any other country, though it has all the features of both, and would be very useful for the students in library and information studies or informatics departments... in the US. There are some references to the law of the EU or some other countries and presentation of the international documents, but all in all it is an American book for Americans. On the other hand, I would suggest this book for the lecturers in information policy as a model for creating textbooks or teaching aids in other countries. The structure and the contents of it may be very useful in deciding what needs to be put into a similar handbook in France, Sweden or Estonia.

The authors understand the concept of information policy broadly and provide a good clarification of both terms - information and policy - in the first chapter. In Chapter 2 they continue discussing information policy in the context of other policies and demonstrate its development and coverage in the USA. The same wide approach to information policy is applied in Chapter 3, which authors devote to a variety of sources where information policy is encoded, from the basic legislation and laws regulating interests in very different areas to international agreements and documents in executive branches of the government to ethical and professional guidelines and even public discourse.

Chapter 4 is devoted to the reasons why information professionals should study and get involved in setting up different kinds of regulation. Chapter 5 provides a broad picture of the development of information policy in the US during different periods, but also emphasizes the professional duties of librarians and other information professionals to get actively involved or creatively adapt their activities to varying legislative and governmental demands. Chapter 6 addresses the variety of application areas, such as telecommunication policy, copyright and intellectual property, information infrastructure, access to information, security, secrecy and privacy. Chapter 7 focuses on the impact of information policy on information users' responsibilities, rights and practices.

Chapters 8-11 turn the attention of readers to information professions, the development of their relations with and within information policies historically (chapter 8), professional responsibilities in implementing a just information order in the country (Chapter 9), and the role of active involvement in the development of information policy to achieve this aim (Chapter 10). The final chapter looks at the perspectives of information policy from todays perspective, revealing bright as well as dark sides of the opening possibilities.

The authors have a very reader friendly style and good sense of humour that they use to illustrate their points or just lighten serious parts with an illuminating joke or a funny example. Each chapter holds text inserts with interesting cases illustrating the topics under discussion and at the end we find Questions for consideration.

There are two more people involved in the book. The Foreword is written by A.S. Inouye from the American Library Association who is a Senior Director of the Public Policy and Government Relations. The book is closed by N. Kranich from the Rutgers University with a metaphoric wanderings in the wonderlands of information policy.

Though of limited direct usefulness for the international audience of information professionals and students of information policy, the book is definitely rich in reflections on the roles and duties of information professionals in ensuring democratic order of information, human rights and equality of all information users.

Elena Maceviciute

University of Borås
May, 2020

How to cite this review

Maceviciute, E. (2020). Review of: Jaeger, Paul T. and Greene Taylor, Natalie. Foundations of information policy. London: Facet Publishing, 2019. Information Research, 25(2), review no. R693. http://www.informationr.net/ir/reviews/revs693.html

Information Research is published four times a year by the University of Borås, Allégatan 1, 501 90 Borås, Sweden.